We won’t hesitate to admit that most of our time in Seoul was spent eating. In a city that never sleeps, there is ample opportunity to fit in 3 meals a day plus morning and afternoon tea, supper and snacks. And when it comes to choice- to say you’re spoilt is an understatement. The buzz, the youthfulness, the energy of Seoul is intoxicating and eating-whether it be skewers on the street or fried chicken and beer in a raucous restaurant is where you will best experience it. Here are our Must Eats in Seoul…
Chasing a Plate’s Price Guide
$ cheap as chips under $5USDper person
$$ won’t break the bank $15-20USD per person
$$$ flop out the gold card $40+USD per person
Fried chicken and beer $$$ (if you’re on the booze too)
549-9 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu
Open 7 days, 5:00pm to 5:00am
Koreans love their beer and where you see pints being swigged, you’ll most likely see a plate of fried chicken being devoured. They go hand in hand. We ate as much fried chicken as we could possibly manage during our 5 days in Seoul (and it was a lot if our teenage skin was anything to go by) and found that the quality varies from okay to so bloody good I would sell my firstborn for another plate of this bird. We assume that you are going to want to consume the best of the best. Non?
Head to Hanchu in Garosugil- this pub like restaurant has been around for over 20 years and is the whole package. Ajumma (aunties/middle aged women) carry pints of freshly pulled beer and deliver plates of golden, crispy chicken to raucous tables. The secret to the amazing chicken here is that the light and super crisp coating contains bits of hot green peppers, get the sauce on the side, intersperse mouthfuls of tender chicken with mildly tart cubes of pickle and wash each mouthful down with ice-cold Cass. HEAVEN. If you’re still hungry, opt for the battered minced stuffed peppers. They won’t disappoint. If you only eat one thing from this list, make it the fried chicken at Hanchu.
30cm high ice-creams $
We were obsessed by these ice-creams. I’m not exaggerating when we say we had three a day. You’ll find the soft serve machines in most popular shopping areas. We were staying in Hongdae and frequented the blokes who manned the machines near the bottom of the pedestrian strip because of their waffle cones. Flavours are pretty simple- chocolate, strawberry, yoghurt, green tea and mango were the most common and whilst they’re not super creamy they’re icy and refreshing on the palate. Go on, do it. 30CM!!
Korean BBQ $$
You’ll find Korean BBQ restaurants everywhere. We embraced this incredibly social style of eating and ate indoors as well as al fresco. You’ll be asked to choose a set which will be made up of various cuts of meat and unlimited banchan. Just pick what you like the sound of and go for it. More often than not you’ll get a hand with turning the meat but we reckon it’s more fun to get in there and do it yourself.
Mandu (dumplings) and noodles $$
29, Myeongdong 10-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul (Myeong-dong 2-ga)
Open 7 days 10:30am – 9:30pm
Myeongdong Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), Exit 8. Upon exiting the station, turn left onto Myeongdong 10-gil Road. Head straight for about 150m to arrive at the restaurant. It’s in the middle of a shopping strip.
You can’t visit an Asian city and not partake in noodles or dumplings. We visited Myeongdong Kyoja who specialise in kalguksu or knife cut noodles. You’ll find bowls of nourishing, clean tasting broth, bouncy noodles and wontons wrapped in skins so thin they’re almost translucent. Their mandu are also worth eating- the parcels of pork and vegetables avoid being stodgy. Add to this copious amounts of garlicky kimchi and you’re set!
As much as you can at Gwangjung Market $-$$
Gwangjung Market is an eaters paradise. Row upon row of stalls specialising in particular dishes from dumplings to bibimbap to savoury pancakes- you will not go hungry. The best way to go about it is to do a round of the market and scope out what looks good and which stalls are busy. If you see one you like the look of, bowl up and take a seat in front of the chef. If you don’t speak Korean (like us) just point to what you want to try. You might end up with something you weren’t expecting (we got pigs head instead of rice cakes) but that’s all part of the fun. Gwangjung Market is also a great place to eat bibimbap (the regular kind not the hot stone dish). The array of fresh vegetables, pickles and marinated meat is a sight for hungry tummies.
You can’t visit Seoul and not eat patbingsoo- the famous Korean shaved ice dessert. There are loads of dessert parlours serving this national classic and you’ll find everything from concoctions loaded with mango and strawberry to the more classic red bean, sticky mochi and black sesame number that we ate.
Dakgalbi is tasty, comfort food- take a massive pan placed over gas and load it up with meat (often chicken) marinated in gochujang and vegetables, once cooked add rice and then why not throw in some cheese to bind it all together. We were up for the spectacle as much as for the food. Again, there are loads of places serving dakgalbi but we popped into Yoogane in Myeongdong. It’s cheap, tasty and sustenance for the massive amount of shopping you will no doubt do.
All of the street food!!! $
You could live just on street food in Seoul and be one very happy traveller. You’ll find everything from the more traditional tteokbokki (rice cake in gochujang sauce) to crumbed hamburger patties oozing with mozzarella. Our advice? Sample as much as you can. More often than not it tastes bloody good.
Happy eating! Got more questions? Flick us a message in the Comment section below and we will get back to you pronto!
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