Korea Food Bucket List - 10 Foods you have to try
1. Samgyupsal BBQ - While these are popping up all over America and the UK, we can assure you there is nothing like the original. Samgyupsal is a pork BBQ, and enjoyed best with some green onion, caramelized onion, or rolled up in a lettuce wrap. Your first time having the mouth watering BBQ can be a little intimidating, so be sure to check back for a “how-to” guide to Korean BBQ! BBQ will likely be around 10,000W per person!
2. KFC - No, we aren’t talking about Kentucky Fried Chicken, we are talking about Korean Fried Chicken! Whether you get it at a baseball game, in a shop, or delivered to your apartment, you are in for a treat. The baseball game fried chicken is our favourite - semi-hot chicken mixed with peanuts and rice cakes. If it isn’t springtime, and you still need a fix, we recommend Ne-ne’s for delivery and Choongman chicken for dine in. Be careful, if it says spicy, it will be sure to heat your mouth up! (We may have made this mistake once or twice.) Be sure to try the white, cubed radish that comes with it. I was really unsure about it at first, but now I can’t get enough! An 18,000W pack will feed two!
3. Bibimbap - While translating to simply, “fried rice” we can assure you, it is much more. Depending on the season, expect a bowl with about a half cup of rice, topped with spinach, mushrooms, beansprouts, radish kimchi, sesame seeds, seaweed and an egg. You can get the dish cold, or served in a hot bowl. (Pro-tip: when they give you the piping hot bowl, let it sit for a minute or two, to get some crunchy rice at the bottom!) Also, be sure to try chamchi bibimbap (tuna) or raw beef bibimbap (especially delicious in Jeonju) Except to pay anywhere from 3,500W to 6,000W outside of Seoul.
4. Kimbap - The easiest way to explain kimbap is Korean sushi. The first time I had it, I was really unsure what I was eating. While it can differ from place to place, these seaweed rolls are filled with spam, egg, spinach, radish, and carrots. My personal favorite is the chamchi kimbap, which usually has a sesame leaf and mayo, but you can also get hot pepper, shrimp, or fried pork! The best part? For a simple kimbap, loaded with all the veggies, you will only pay about 2,000W! On days when I wasn’t too hungry, this was enough for dinner!
5. (Chicken) Dak Galbi - Okay, this one is especially important, because for some horrible reason, we didn’t try this until our last week in Korea, meaning we only had it ONE TIME! Served in a big skillet, kind of like paella, it is packed with seasoned chicken, rice cakes, kimchi, sausages and cheese. Do yourself a favour and get some ramen thrown in as well! You can eat it with some rice, ramen, or wrapped up with lettuce and cabbage! It is best with a group, as prices equal out to about 10,000W when sharing a few beers and sides!
6. Ramen - I know what you are thinking, ramen? First of all, if you go to the grocery store and go to the ramen aisle, there are enough flavours and varieties to give you a chance to try one new ramen every week during your one-year contract. Not only that, but if you order it at the local kimbap shop, it will be served piping hot, with a boiled egg, sesame seeds and sometimes rice cakes. Delicious, hot and it is about 2,000-3,000W per serving!
7. Japchae - This is one of of my absolute favourites, and not something you will find often in restaurants, but you may get it served at your school on occasion, especially around the holidays. Japchae is a simple dish- Korean fried noodles, normally with spinach, mushroom, carrot, or other vegetables. You can also get Japchae Kimmari, which is like a deep fried, seaweed wrapped version of japchae!
8. Mandu - This was one of my favourites to order, not only because it is delicious, but because it is easy to say! Nearly every Korean restaurant will have some sort of mandu, or dumplings on the menu. You can get vegetarian mandu, stuffed with spinach and cabbage, meat mandu, kimchi mandu, shrimp mandu- we literally had a restaurant in our city called Mandu Heaven. However, I was surprised that the prices weren’t a bit cheaper- normally around 4,000-6,000 won for five-seven pieces.
9. Banchan - Banchan is what all those insta-worthy photos are all about. They are the little, complimentary dishes you will get when you dine in at a restaurant. Normally, they are quite good to eat on it’s own, but I will occasionally mix mine in with my bimbap or kimbap. Examples of banchan include kimchi, radish, dried fish, fish cakes, pickles, bean sprouts, black beans, green onion, peanuts, spicy prawns, sesame leaves, pumpkin, I even got crab legs at a restaurant once! Is your mouth watering yet?
10. Kimchi - Okay, this one is obvious, but I think I slightly under-estimated the importance of kimchi in Korean culture. You can without a doubt, find it in any restaurant in Korea. Even the ex-pat favourite, Vato’s Tacos in Itaewon serves kimchi fries! There are three main types of kimchi- radish, cucumber and cabbage. You can eat kimchi with rice, in a soup, or as a side dish. We recommend frying it and putting with your scrambled eggs, or on top of cheese pizza! *You can see lots of pictures of kimchi in the other photos, so why not look at these little cuties making their own kimchi on a field trip?