The world we live in is a funny place. What works here is totally dependent upon what's visible and marketed well. If an entity is out of sight it's out of mind, and mass acceptability seldom mirrors quality. The reason for this rhetoric-cum-rant is the fact that South Korean cuisine is not as popular as its Asian counterparts. And the only plausible reason for that is the fact that most people just aren't aware of where to find authentic South Korean food in their own countries, thanks to a lack of promotion.
However, this obviously doesn't apply to those planning a visit to South Korea in the future. If you're a food connoisseur and love to experiment, a visit to this intriguing country will take you on a gastronomic experience you're not likely to forget. So without further ado, here's presenting the 10 must-have food experiences in South Korea, guaranteed to make your taste buds tingle with delight!
If we're talking about authentic Korean cuisine, the first one in the hierarchy has to be tteok-bokki. These are stir-fried rice cakes that look like English breakfast sausages. The most commonly added ingredients are eggs and scallions. They are then seasoned with local spices and soy sauce. Tteok-bokki is widely available on roadside stalls in South Korea.
Best Place To Have It: Jaws Food, Seoul
Cost Per Plate: W2,500 / ₹160
Ever had pancakes? Well, you can have them everywhere in South Korea, except they're only better-tasting. A hotteok, like its western counterpart, is made of wheat flour, milk, sugar, and yeast. It is also sometimes filled with honey, peanuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, etc., to enhance the taste.
Best Place To Have It: Samcheongdong Hotteok, Insadong
Cost Per Plate: W2,000 / ₹128
We just talked about pancakes above, now it's time for fishcakes. Odeng is a processed seafood item made of white fish, potato starch, vegetables, and sugar. This is used as a side dish (on a skewer) and is also put inside soups along with the skewer. Odeng is a very popular street food in South Korea and is usually thin and rectangular-shaped.
Best Place To Have It: Hoe House, Busan
Cost Per Skewer: W500 / ₹32
A personal favourite of mine, pajeon is a light dish made with egg batter, rice flour, wheat flour, and scallions. Also, depending on the variety, beef, pork, shellfish, kimchi, etc., are used. Pajeon has very less density and thickness because of scallions used in the cooking instead of dough.
Best Place To Have It: Nakseo Pajeon, Seoul
Cost Per Plate: W6,000 / ₹384
Are you wondering where Korean noodles are? I hear you! Presenting to you naengmyeon, an authentic Korean dish which has flour noodles and starch and various ingredients like buckwheat, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc. There are also varieties made of seaweed and green tea. The noodles are served cold in chilled broth.
Best Place To Have It: Bongpiyang, Seoul
Cost Per Plate: W10,000 / ₹640
Now from noodles to rice. Literally translating to 'mixed rice', bibimbap is a Korean rice dish served as a bowl of warm white rice with a topping that includes sautéed vegetables, chilli pepper paste, soybean paste and soy sauce. To enhance the taste sometimes, raw/fried egg or sliced meat are added later. You need to stir the hot dish before eating to taste all the flavours.
Best Place To Have It: Gogung, Seoul
Cost Per Bowl: W1,200 / ₹77
Literally translating to 'fire meat', bulgogi is basically a grilled or roasted dish made with beef or pork slices. It can be grilled on a barbecue or fried in a home pan. It is ultra popular in restaurants and street stalls.
Best Place To Have It: Seocho Sariwon, Seoul
Cost Per Plate: W11,000 / ₹704
South Korean climate is ideal for stirring up soups when it's cold. Initially, seolleongtang must've been cooked to beat the cold and later evolved into something people relish. And it is absolutely delicious. This soup is usually made from the leg bones of an ox and the taste of the broth is enhanced by adding salt, black pepper, garlic, onions, etc. Sometimes rice is put inside it to serve directly as a main course.
Best Place To Have It: Sinseon Seolleongtang Myeongdong, Seoul
Cost Per Bowl: W7,000 / ₹448
There's a delicious, mostly vegetarian, main course dish in South Korea known as sundubu-jjigae which is basically a soft tofu stew. Freshly curdled tofu is mixed with vegetables, onion, mushrooms, optional seafood (oysters, clams, shrimp), optional meat (beef or pork), chilli paste and chilli powder. It is served boiling hot and with rice.
Best Place To Have It: Maangchi, Seoul
Cost Per Bowl: W5,000 / ₹320
Finally the heaviest of all dishes is samgyeopsal. If translated directly, it means 'three layer flesh'. The dish consists of thick slices of pork belly grilled on the metal griddle right at the diners' table. It's a live grill so diners can also grill the meat themselves, using tongs and scissors, and eat directly from the griddle.
Best Place To Have It: Yukjeon Sikdang, Seoul
Cost Per Grill: W15,o00 / ₹960
All this food talk has definitely made my mouth water! Let me quickly book my tickets to South Korea so I don't miss out on all this amazing food! You are more than welcome to join me on my delectable quest.
If you've been to South Korea already, however, share your own food journey on Tripoto with 25M fellow travellers across the globe.
In association with Korea Tourism Organization.