I love Korean food and my cravings for Korean food was satisfied during my trip to Seoul. I mean, what’s not to love about seoul eats and Korean street food? They are hearty, spicy, and hot – perfect for the cold Korean weather.
What to eat in Seoul? I hope this list of Korean food will help you out!
Tteokbokki is a dish easily found everywhere in Seoul, especially from the *pojangmachas. It is made from soft rice cake, fish cake and *gochujang sauce. Tteokbokki has a long history line in Korea. Once a part of the Korean royal court cuisine, it was brown and plain. Only after the introduction of the korean chill paste of gochujang did it became red and spicy. Thank God for gochujang! 😉
This is a lovely sweet Korean food treat. Hotteok is the Korean version of pancake, with brown sugar syrup filling and a coat of cinnamon on the outside. As it is served immediately, from the pan, this makes a wonderful treat during the colder season. However, if you’re one to watch the number of calories you eat, this may not be for you. It has a high sugar content and a piece of hotteok may have as many as 230 calories!
If there is one Korean food I can eat for lunch and dinner, seven days a week, it would be Korean barbecue! Wraping the barbecued meat (flavoured or unflavoured) in romain lettuce, adding on a slice of garlic and green chill with gochujang sauce… mmmm… even just writing about it makes me hungry! Wash everything down with soju bomb to make it a complete meal!
*Soju bomb consists of a shot of soju within a cup of beer. It’s my new favourite way to have beer!
Mandu (Korean Dumplings)
Mandus are usually had during big Korean holidays. However, do not let that stop you from trying them out. We had our first taste of Mandu during our walkabout in Bukchon Hanok and let me tell you – that little shop is PACKED with locals. In Korea, mandus are cooked in many ways but I personally preferred the steam and boiled ones. What I really liked was the sheer size of them – they are huge, compared to the dumplings we are accustomed to in Malaysia as these mandus in Korea are usually filled with meat, tofu, green onions, garlic, ginger, and sometimes Kimchi, if you ordered Kimchi Mandus. I LOVE them! This is definitely the kind of Korean food I enjoy!
“Bungeo” literally means a crucian carp, a kind of fish and “Ppang” is the word for bread. Fish (shaped) bread, filled with sweet red bean paste is a popular Korean snack – nice to eat during the summer and even nicer during the cold weather and it is delicious when eaten piping hot off the pan!
Samgyetang literally means ginseng chicken soup in Korean and features a hot piping soup dish of chicken, stuffed with sticky rice, ginseng and garlic. I learnt that Koreans loved having this dish during the summer days, i.e. their version of fighting fire with fire, but coming from a tropical country, I find comfort in having this against the cold winter Seoul weather. This dish always feature a generous serving and is sufficient for one single person as a dish by itself, as there was two of us, we added an order of Bibimbap and loved the combination.
This is a type of Korean food that is well-known and loved by many around the world so it needs no elaborate introduction. Rice, mixed with assorted vegetables and meat in a bowl, complete with an egg on top is found in almost all of the Korean restaurant we have in town. I have never been extremely fond of this dish, but found that it goes very well with the Samgyetang! This trip to Korea has changed my perception and I now crave for Bibimbap every now and then, so much so that I went online to learn the recipe!
Tofu Shabu Shabu
You will find tofu as an ingredient in a lot of Korean dishes and since it was -1 degree Celcius when we hiked Namhansanseong Fortress, we thought it was fitting to enjoy a huge serving of Tofu stew in shabu shabu style. The entire pot was laden with not just a huge serving of tofu, but a variety of other veges as well. Add in a hot piping bowl of rice, that is comfort food at its best!
Kimbap is the quintessential choice of picnic food or packed lunch in Korea. Personally, even before my trip to Seoul, I’ve often made kimbap at home. Although it do take a little bit more prep time in preparing the fillings, it is actually pretty easy to make.
Essentially, it is made from Korean white rice with fillings like bulgogi, pickles, roasted seaweed, spinach, carrot and egg. Honestly, the choices are endless and truly depends on your personal choice. It differs from Sushi, and you do not eat them with wasabi. It is tasty on its own as it is as some of the filling are cooked and mixed with sesame oil or already stir fried in their own way.
Obviously, when I visited Seoul, this was one of the Korean food I wanted to try and we did, in the 24 hour shop called Pomato, for breakfast one day. I really liked it, and prefer the meat ones over the fish filling!
Another popular Korean street food, Gyeranbbang is a sweet, fluffy loaf of bread, with a whole egg inside. As a Malaysian, it sort of reminds me of our Kuih Bahulu, except it has an egg in it! As it is sold by loads of street vendors all over Seoul, it is pretty hard to miss it. Plus, the sweet smell and the smell of fresh bread makes you hungry instantly no matter what time of the day it is (or maybe it only applies to me!). This is one of my personal favourite, for sure.
Love soju? This is a local favourite dish to accompany your soju session. Fish slices or pieces are boiled with a selection of various vegetable in hot and spicy soup. Certain seafood places also adds a variety of other seafood like clams and oysters to complement the spicy flavour. It do remind me of tom yam fish soup in a certain way but Maeuntang is a little spicier and do not have the zesty to it. If you’re a fan of soup, this is worth a try.
What does Tteokbokki and Ramen have in common? It’s in a dish called rabokki and yes, it is what you thought it is – tteokbokki and ramen in one single dish. We tried this in the 24 hour joint called Pomato and thought that its a more interesting dish and perhaps even more delicious than the traditional tteokbokki. the chewy rice cakes and springy soft ramen noodles soak up the flavour of the sauce, making it one of my favourite dish in Seoul!
Chimaek (Chicken and Maekju [Beer])
If there is one thing I have always wanted to try, it was Chimaek. After being distracted by the many elaborate Korean dishes available, we went back to basics on our last night in Seoul by having Korean fried chicken and beer at Kong’s Chicken in Dongdaemun. We tried the classic Korean fried chicken as well as barbecue fried chicken and preferred the classic one better. When things get a little thirsty and spicy, wash it down with Cass / Hite beer! Fried Chicken and Beer is an awesome combo – take it from me!
Very popular Korean dish and is usually served in bars and some pojangmacha. Dak Bal literally means chicken feet and is one of the spiciest food I have ever tasted in my whole life – no kidding! A new friend that we made while having this in Dongdaemun, Isvand, warned us a few times that it is extremely spicy but we still insist on trying it. I mean, we came all the way, we can’t very well go home without at least trying it! I love chilli and spicy food and is known to eat jalapeño on its own but I found this dish so spicy, I had to wash it down with beer! Other than that, it has a sweet and sour taste to it, and despite it being spicy, I kept eating them because they are extremely addictive and delicious. If you’re giving this a try, be aware of the spicy level!
Samgak Kimbap is a triangle shaped rice packet, filled with a variety of fillings from Tuna to spicy chicken, and is wrapped in dried seaweed sheets. This is exactly the same as Onigiri from Japan and is available in all the hyper mart around Korea, which is why we have this for breakfast every day! It’s cheap, delicious and super easy to carry it around, that we brought this along to fill our stomach while hiking the Namhansanseong Fortress.
Mul Naengmyeon (chilled buckwheat noodle soup)
Cold buckwheat noodles served in icy cold broth made from beef or chicken is exactly what mul naengmyeon is and is a popular summertime selection.
Remember how I said I love soup with every beat of my heart? The adventurous side in me decided to try chilled soup while in Korea! I have to say though, despite all the raving reviews, chilled soup just isn’t my thing but don’t let that stop you from trying it out as I have known friends who loves them!
Sikhye (traditional rice punch) & maekbanseok gyeran (Stone plate roasted egg)
These two are must haves when visiting a jjimjilbang, especially if you’re not up for a full meal. Sikhye is a sweet rice punch made with barley malt powder and rice and they taste sweet AND it’s good for digestion! This was one of the best beverage I have ever tasted in my life, and I really love it.
Maekbanseok gyeran are hard boiled eggs boiled on Elvan Stone and no – they are not your typical hard boiled eggs. Sure – they look about the same with the herbal eggs you get from chinese medicinal stores but it takes about 3 hours or so to actually bake these eggs! Have them while they are warm and you’ll get a little roasted chestnut taste to them. Elvan Stone on the other hand, is known to be really good for your health – giving you beautiful skin, helping with blood circulation and anti-ageing!
Miyeokguk (seaweed soup)
It is no secret that I love soup and can have soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner, to my husband’s horror, and hence, Miyeokguk was one of my favourite Korean dishes, albeit being a simple seaweed soup. I got to enjoy miyeokguk while at a jjimjilbang and it was a delicious and soothing meal, especially after sweating out in the hot baths!
Jap Chae (Korean Glass Noodle)
Japchae is literally glass noodles, stir fried with loads of vegetables and meat! It has a sesame flavour to it, and is slightly sweet. If you ask me, this seemed like the perfect dish to make for a pot-luck party – the only issue being the fact that you have to stir fry each individual ingredient separately before mixing them up in a bowl. We ordered this in an underground restaurant in Insadong as we were looking for something other than rice and was pleasantly surprised by how much we like it.
Soondae (Non-halal Korean food)
This is not for the faint hearted or weak stomach. Also known as Korean blood sausage, its usually made by mixing pork blood with cellophane noodles and glutinous rice. Although there are other varieties of it, such as squid soondaes, pork ones are more commonly found in the streets.
What I think of it: It’s actually not that bad! Take it with a little bit of salt and enjoy with a tteokbokki dish and steaming hot soup was kind of delicious. It has a mochi like texture and is a little chewy.
What was your favourite?
As Korean food are rather popular, you can find them easily, almost anywhere in Malaysia. Are you a lover of Korean dishes? What’s your favourite?