There is something about Korean cuisine that I find it very attractive - various of small dishes to try! Each and every dish has its own unique taste. This trip, I tried to keep it simple for normal common Korean food you can easily find anywhere in Seoul and also easier for solo traveller to order.
I wouldn't tell you those are top 23 dishes that you have to try when you visit Seoul, but those were absolutely amazing delicious cuisine that I had to try when I was in Seoul - South Korea! I was glad to have tried these all during a five day trip! Strictly speaking, I skipped most breakfast because I slept too late. So those were just my lunch and dinner!
1. Banchan (Korean Side Dishes)
Who doesn't like Korean Side Dishes? I love it! Generally those are some side dishes that marinated with salt, vinegar, sugar, sesame seed oil etc.
Please click the "play" button" at the top left corner of below photo for slide shows.
You may find various side dishes are provided by different restaurant, depends on the chef's decision which one to serve to you. That's the exciting part to me, I always look forward to receiving the dishes with surprise.
2. Korean Dumplings
I had it for my breakfast, a healthy selection. The Kimchi Dumpling that I ordered with ingredient of kimchi, glass noodle, sesame seeds, sesame oil and spring onions.
3. Kimchi Pancake
A good Kimchi pancake to me, it's cooked to have a crispy texture outside and soft inside. This is a typical Korean Kimchi Pancake with Kimchi and spring onions dipping into the soy sauce. Yummy!
4. Korean Seafood Pancake
If you are not a big fan of vegetarian or sick of Kimchi pancake, seafood pancake is another option! I guess this seafood pancake that I ordered appears to have more cutter fish than prawns but still, delicious!
5. Spicy Stir-fried Pork with Rice Leaf Wrap set (Bulgogi)
One of my Korean Classic dish, it would be difficult not to order it when I am in a Korean Restaurant. The Bulgogi sauce generally is a combination of soy sauce, sugar, green onion, garlic, sesame seeds, sesame oil and ground black pepper.
Don't you love Korean food when it always comes with all these small side dishes?
This is how you eat it - wrapped them all! It usually comes with a leafy vegetable to wrap the ingredients but that was the first time I ate it with Korean Perilla leaves. Interesting green aromatic taste as compared to lettuce.
6. Korean Cold Wheat Noodle with Barbecue Pork (Mul Naengmyeon with BBQ Pork)
It is a buckwheat noodle with an icy broth that contained vinegar, finished with marinated pickled radish, cucumber, hard boiled egg and sesame seeds. It came with grilled BBQ sliced Pork as a combo and that was a fantastic idea!
The buckwheat noodle was long and tangled but nicely cooked, I was given a scissor to cut it so that it was easier to eat. How should I describe it? It was a very unique feeling to eat icy noodle with vinegar taste and it was yummy with a light touch of sesame taste. When I took the second bite with the pickled radish and cucumber, it gave a refreshing flavor. During the third bite, I ate the BBQ pork immediately after the icy cold noodle - OMG! The hot BBQ sweet pork combined with icy cold light sour noodle along with refreshing radish and cucumber - THAT WAS ABSOLUTELY APPETIZING to play around with all sort of tastes in one mouthful of food. Imagine you have a bite of sweet, sour, smoky, salty and some leafy taste all together - hot and icy cold combination?! You have got to try it to feel it and taste it.
These were the BBQ sliced pork.
7. Tteokbokki Stew With Ramen
The buttery stew with chewy ramen, tteokbokki (Korean chewy rice cake), hard boiled egg, deep fried Korean dumpling (with glass noodle), deep friend seaweed wrapped with glass noodle, fish cake slices, rice cake ball and spring onion. This dish had lots of flavors, definitely mouth watering!
Close shot to show the filling in the deep fried dumpling.
8. Ginseng Chicken Soup
How could I leave Korea without eating Ginseng Chicken Soup again? This is served hot with the whole chicken stuffed with ginseng, other herbs and glutinous rice with slow cooked soup. The chicken tasted more delicious when you dip it with some salt.
9. Classic Bibimbap
Traditional Korean mixed rice, you can choose the combination of vegetables only/ with beef/ with pork/ tobiko fish roes etc.
This is how you eat Bibimbap - Mix them all! Every mouthful came with satisfaction!
10. Tobiko Fish Roes (Eggs) Bibimbap
This was the first time I tried such a unique bibimbap, Tobiko fish roes (eggs). Compared to a normal bibimbap, the Tobiko fish roes added the crunchy texture and a mild smoky yet salty flavor into it.
This is how it looked like after I mixed the Bibimbap tobiko fish eggs.
11. Spicy Stewed Pork Ribs
It is a dish that you order the hot level: 10%, 20%, 30%, 50%, 70% & 100%. They made it with Cheongyang Peppers and it was literally HOT and SPICY!
I chose level 30% which was a moderate level but I didn't expect them to put the hot pot on stove and continued cooking it while served on my table (Of course I turned it off after that). It was quite an experience but luckily it came with fresh cabbage, carrot sticks, korean side dishes and I ordered a bowl of purple rice to go with it. The hot pot contained ingredients such as pork ribs, bean curd, leeks, green chilli (or Cheongyang pepper), rice calls wrapped with glass noodle, rice cake, spring onions and onion.
It was an interesting combination, it was hot and spicy, the experience gets even better when you drink a glass of ice water down to your throat! Awwwwwesome!
Korean Purple Rice
This was the first time for me to try on Purple Rice, it tasted light sweet and nutty flavour. It wasn't too soft but with some firm texture. I would strongly recommend to try this when you are in Korea.
12. Korean Bingsu
This is Injeomi Bingsu, Korean shaved Ice with wheat powder, rice cake and almond slices. There are all sort of Bingsu in Korea - shaved ice with all sort of topping to your liking such as red bean, green tea, black sesame, fruits, chocolate, coffee etc. It is a popular desert in summer.
This photo shows how they made the bingsu - layer and layer of wheat powder. Please note that not all bingsu is made in the same method.
13. Korean Patbingsu (Shaved ice)
This is a very popular saved ice in Korea - Patbingsu made of sweet red bean with rice cake, wheat powder and almond slices.
I had two way of eating the bingsu - One is to pick each ingredient on the spoon and try the individual flavor. This is the mixing-everything-way and it was delicious! Not too sweet and not too plain either. I guess I love the nutty flavor from the wheat powder.
14. Pumpkin Shaved ice, Korean traditional sweets and cookies, Sunflower Seeds
It was very interesting to have the pumpkin shaved ice, the taste was sweet with a hint of nutty flavor. Having the Pumpkin Shaved Ice with the Korean traditional snacks, it was refreshing during summer visit. The experience was unique because the Tea House used very unique handcrafted kitchen tableware.
15. Korean Fish Shaped Waffle with Vanilla Ice Cream and Honeycomb
It was interesting simply because of the honeycomb as topping, delicious and fun to eat. The vanilla ice cream was smooth and creamy while the honeycomb was oozing down all over the ice cream, further enhanced the smoothness texture. I believe both adult and kids would enjoy having this dessert.
16. Binggrae Banana Flavored Milk
I noticed many people recommended this Binggrae Banana Flavored Milk but personally I am not a big fan of it. I bought it, tasted it but didn't get it. To be honest, I am not that into milky milk to start with so please ignore my personal taste.
This reminded me of Tokyo Banana Sponge Cake (From Japan) which contained amazing banana flavour custard in it. I love Tokyo Banana!
17. Rose Ice Cream
Presentation wise, it was creative to have the ice cream in rose shape and it was colourful. As for the taste, it was unforgettable and I could have it again in my next trip to Korea. The original flavour yogurt was so refreshing that I could taste the light sour yet sweet yogurt. It goes well with Strawberry flavour which was a great combination for a summer treat! As compared to the Gelato from Italy or Australia which was smooth and thick, the Korean Rose Shaped Ice Cream was refreshing and light.
18. Freshly squeezed Mandarin Juice
It is refreshing to have freshly squeezed juice during summer. You may find those stalls sell it along the street with Orange, Watermelon, Grapefruit etc. It is packaged in such a way that you can reseal and take away with you.
This is the traditional Korean rice/ wheat alcoholic beverage. As you can see the colour is rather pale white served in a bow. It is commonly 6-8% alcohol content. Please don't take this lightly, the alcohol caught up to me after I took half of it (well, I'm not a good drinker to start with so perhaps it is better for you to try and judge it yourself). It tasted like light sweet milky Soju but smooth and easy to drink.
20. Tteokbokki with deep fried chicken pieces coated with glazed sweet chilly sauce
This is easily at the top of my favorite street food in Korea! I ate it two days in a row and wouldn't mind eating it again if the third day dinner was not too heavy. I would say this is better than Sweet and Sour Pork where you can find in any asian restaurant around the world. It is a brilliant combination of the rice cake with deep fried chicken and coated with glazed sweet and chilly sauce!
21. Egg Bun (Gaeran Bbang)
It is sort of Korean Baked Egg Bread but it tasted more like muffin with egg. The one that I bought was more like some bean muffin with egg: Muffin was soft and tasty but the egg was too dry for me.
22. Dak Kkochi
One of the common street food - Korean Skewered Chicken Kebab glazed in different sauces such as BBQ or sweet and chilly sauce.
23. Eomuk Kkochi
These are processed seafood made from ground white fish, potato starch, salt, sugar and vegetables. There are lots of street stalls selling it from early the morning till late night, it's convenient for the commuter to purchase and eat it immediately. It was great during winter to eat it fresh from the hot boiled broth.
After reading all these food that I ate during 5 days travel, ARE YOU READY FOR KOREA?
Travel Date: Augest 2016
Trip Style: Solo Travel
Transportation: Subway trains
Accommodation: Hotel in Myeongdong
A country rich in history, culture. If you have never tried the delicious Korean food, it's colourful culture, or perhaps check out the plastic surgery industry - this definitely is a popular destination for Asia.