The Best 8 Must-Eat Local Dishes out there in South Korea
Whenever you travel around Korea, you will always hear someone telling you or someone else “This place is famous for such and such” or “This is the best (insert type of food) in Korea, you must try”. And since these dishes are incredibly popular with locals, expats and tourists in the know, you too have the right to be in the know right? So whenever you take a trip to a different region of Korea, keep these places in mind when you are looking for a decent meal that you can’t find in other regions. Go forth and find these famous dishes!
Incheon Chinatown (인천차이나타운):
This is officially the only Chinatown in South Korea. This place first came into existence way back in 1884 after the opening of Incheon port in 1883. In the 1940’s, the Chinese community was over 10,000 people. But due to the Korean war and the Korean government’s regulation on the Chinese community, the population decreased by a lot over the 1970’s. These days, thanks to its unique and very special atmosphere, Chinatown is very popular to visitors with many kinds of Chinese stores, dessert stores and of course restaurants for you to peruse. Also an interesting fact, The very first ‘Jajangmyeon’ (black paste noodles) was served in this very Chinatown. Every Saturday and Sunday, the roads here are car-free between 10am – 6pm.
Tongnamu House Dalkgalbi (통나무 닭갈비):
Found in Chuncheon, Gangwon-do, This restaurant is famous for its stir fried spicy chicken that is cooked right in front of you at your very own table. This dish is especially famous in Chuncheon and you can see several restaurants in the area but Tongnamu House stands out. And the reason that it stands out is that you can order through their website and get the ingredients delivered to your home one day later. This is the site but be warned it is all in Korean: http://www.chdakgalbi.com/. You can order the spicy chicken, vegetables and spicy sauces for example. The way I would recommend you to enjoy dalkgalbi at this restaurant is step 1: dalkgalbi, step 2: fried rice, step 3: makguksu. This is how most Koreans enjoy this dish. You order the dalkgalbi first as the main dish, the fried is after you have eaten nearly 95% of the main dish. And then the makguksu is the side dish. Dalkgalbi is 10,000won per 250grams and makguksu is just 6,000won.
This place is a renowned Bibimbap in Jeonju that is very famous among Koreans in the know. Bibimbap is said to have started out as a royal dish and spread out throughout the common people later on. This restaurant is located at the centre of Jeonju Hanok Village. Expect a queue, this place isn’t that easy to walk right on in and eat. Recommended dish is the yukhoe bibimbap (raw beef). This dish is 15,000won, Iron plate bibimbap is 13,000won, Bibimbap is 13,000won and Ginseng Bibimbap is 13,000won. Plenty of variety to try.
Kabojung Galbi (가보정갈비):
This galbi restaurant is located in Suwon. And this galbi restaurant is one among many in Suwon. But this one stands out. The menu ain’t cheap either for lunch or dinner, you can expect to pay 25,000won for lunch and 35,000won for dinner. This is how you know this place is top notch. There is 3 branches of the same restaurant beside the main place and they even provide a mini bus service for companies who bring their clients to this restaurant. Especially popular for Hwesiks (company dinners). The premium Korean beef is especially delicious. Since this place is a bit on the expensive side, keep this place as a special occasions candidate. The service is top class, extra dishes are refilled with great efficiency and the smell of the meat is superb.
Twin Pork Soup (쌍둥이 돼지국밥):
This is the hands-down most popular dwaeji kukbap (돼지국밥) restaurant in all of Busan. This dish cannot be replicated in other regions of Korea, though there have been attempts. This dish is simply some hearty pork bits and soup. This dish is originally from Gyeongsang-do province. Anyways, the reason this restaurant stands out amongst the crowd is thanks to the neat taste of the pork soup. Usually pork soup has a strong weird smell to it that is said to be quite stinging to the nose. This place serves first-class soup. This dish costs only 5,500won. Very famous to Koreans and getting more popular with tourists to try, expect some queues from time to time.
Imum Seolnongtang (이문설농탕):
This restaurant has been opened since 1904. Serving hearty, warm seolnongtang well over 100 years. It is quite possibly the oldest standing restaurant in South Korea. And if you are wondering what ‘Imum’ means, then I can tell you that it is the name of the area way back in the day. The rich broth, beef meat and bones are simmered for over 15 hours. Try putting rice and minced green onion in your bowl for a warm, filling meal. The side dish called Kkatddugi (diced radish kimchi) tastes amazing. You can get the regular size bowl for 7,000won and the large bowl for 9,000won. Make sure to use the soy sauce if the broth isn’t beefy enough for you.
Found in Jeju, This spot is one of the biggest black pork restaurants on the Island. Jeju pork is more softer and chewier than regular pork. Make sure to try the Anchovy sauce that you can only find here. The sauce mixes well with the greasiness of the black pork. The slightly salty flavour may be slightly addictive. The pork is 15,000won and the marinated version is 24,900won per portion.
Tteokgalbi is the Korean style hamburger steak when you need to explain it in the most simplest way. Marinated in soy sauce, this dish is believed to have first appeared in the Damyang region. And so, Deokinkwan itself is located in this region. It has been in business for over 50 years. And it is renowned for the juicy taste and big size. You can also try Daetongbap (대통밥) which is rice served with nuts and steamed in a small bamboo cask. The unique smell will bewilder you. Tteokgalbi is 27,000won, Pork bulgogi is 52,000won for 370grams and Daetongbap is 11,000won.
So the next time, you are heading off on a trip to places outside of the capital city and starving and prefer not to eat some fast food, and don’t mind paying the extra bit for some delicious dishes, then keep this as a reference for future consideration. Prepare to have a happy belly, happy mind and empty wallet and not a worry in the world.