- Samgyeopsal (삼겹살): Also known as K-BBQ, this is one of the most popular Korean dishes to try. It consists of grilled slices of pork belly. You grill the meat directly in front of you at your table. It is popular to dip pieces of the meat in salt and pepper or soybean paste, and then wrap it in lettuce along with rice, garlic, and other side dishes at the table. It is most commonly enjoyed among a group of friends or family.
Where to find it: You can find samgyeopsal at almost any restaurant around Seoul. Many dining places will have signs outside of their restaurant with pictures of samgyeopsal and the prices they offer.
- Tteokbokki (떡볶이): This is a popular street food in Korea consisting of rice cakes, fish cakes, vegetables, and a sweet red chili sauce. It is a combination of sweet and spicy flavors.
Where to find it: Tteokbokki is most popularly sold by street vendors around Seoul. Some of the best places to enjoy it include Gwangjang market, Myeongdong, Dongdaemun night market, Namdaemun market.
- Bibimbap (비빔밥): Bibimbap is a bowl of mixed ingredients that include rice, vegetables, meat, kimchi, gochujang (chili pepper paste), and a fried egg. Depending on where you try it, the ingredients can differ. The history of the dish is derived from early rural Koreans taking leftover foods and combining them together in a dish because it was easy and cheap.
Where to find it: Bibimbap can also be found in dining establishments all over Seoul, but some of the most popular places include restaurants in Myeongdong, Gangnam, and Namsan area.
- Bulgogi (불고기): Bulgogi is one of the most popular Korean meat dishes throughout the world. It consists of grilled marinated beef that is cooked with garlic and onions to incorporate flavor, and is also sometimes wrapped in lettuce leaves with rice and soybean paste.
Where to find it: Bulgogi can be found in restaurants around Seoul. Maple Tree House in Itaewon is a popular spot to find the dish.
- Kimchi (김치): It’s hard to find any dining places in Seoul that don’t serve kimchi as it is essentially the most popular side dish in Korea. It is made up of fermented vegetables, mainly cabbage, and provides a spicy and sour flavor. It provides a unique flavor, high nutritional value, low calorie content, and it has a rich history in Korea. The origin of it dates back to the early period of the Three Kingdoms, and used to be buried in pots in the ground as part of the fermenting and storing process.
Where to find it: Kimchi can be found in every restaurant, grocery store, food market, and more all over Korea. It served as a side dish in essentially every restaurant and is always found in grocery stores and food markets throughout the country.
- Kimbap (김밥): Kimbap looks similar to sushi and is a korean stuffed rice roll. White rice is stuffed with meat and vegetables and rolled onto dried seaweed. It is usually served as a light lunch. Many street vendors and cafes around Seoul sell kimbap.
Where to find it: Gimbap can be found sold by street vendors and markets all around the city. Some popular spots include Myeongdong, Itaewon, and more.
- Chimaek (치맥): Chimaek is the pairing of fried chicken and beer (makeju). Koreans decided that fried chicken and beer go really well together and made it a drinking tradition around Korea. Many people order chimaek to their house or a park and enjoy it with friends and family.
Where to find it: Chimaek can be found in various restaurants around Seoul, and can also be ordered over the phone and delivered anywhere. It is popularly ordered and enjoyed by many picnicking along the Han River in Seoul.
- Jeon (전): Jeon is a term used for savory pancake in Korea. It is often eaten as a snack or appetizer. Meat, seafood, vegetables, and eggs can be included in Jeon. The ingredients are mixed with flour batter and pan-fried. It can be named differently depending on the ingredients added to the pancake.
Where to find it: Jeon can be found as an appetizer in restaurants around Seoul. You can also find it sold by street vendors.
- Japchae (잡채): Japchae is a popular noodle dish made out of sweet potato noodles (or glass noodles), and stir fried with sesame oil and thinly sliced meat and vegetables. The dish has a sweet taste to it and is commonly served as a side dish.
Where to find it: Japchae can be found as a side dish in restaurants in Seoul. Some popular places to find it are in Myeongdong and Insadong.
- Nakji-bokkeum (낙지볶음): Nakji-bokkeum is a favorite among Koreans and foreigners. It consists of octopus stir-fried with vegetables in chili paste sauce and chili powder. It is a spicy dish packed full of flavor and loved by many. It is most commonly served with rice and side dishes.
Where to find it: Nakji-bokkeum can be found in restaurants around Seoul.