Seoul Dining Guide

Seoul Dining Guide

Whether you are into veggies, rice, seafood or beef, Korean cuisine is a great crowd-pleaser not only for locals but also for Western tourists. From street food to spicy stews, Seoul's dining offer is highly varied and delicious.

As the competition is high, you'll be able to find exquisite food that is quite cheap. Since dining out is very popular amongst locals, food establishments get so packed, there's usually a queue of people standing outside waiting to be seated. If you think you've already tried one dish, you might want to try it again at another "town" which are streets of restaurants serving their interpretation of that dish.

From the western delights in Itaewon to fine dining in Apgujeong, outstanding food can be found all over Seoul. Restaurants, cafes and street stalls can be found in every neighborhood, offering meals that range from unpretentious dishes of DIY beef or pork barbecue as well as healthy rice and vegetable dishes, to sumptuous multicourse banquets that showcase signature dishes and are a feast not only for the palate but also for the eyes.

You can't leave South Korea before sampling Kimchi – a tangy side dish of fermented vegetables – and Bibimbap – a hot bowl of rice with sautéed vegetables on top, and, often, a raw egg or meat as well. Although Kimchi and Bibimbap are the most famous national dishes, you should also sample a hotteok – pancakes with sweet or savory fillings) on a street corner. An authentic Korean experience, however, is indulging yourself with a cake and a beverage in a teahouse.

Noryangjin Fish Market

Open 24/7, the Noryangjin Fish Market features fish auctions in the morning and a dining scene at night. It won't come as a shock all the restaurants that line the market offer fish. A local favorite is a raw fish known as hoe, which is thinly sliced – similarly to the Japanese "sashimi" - and enjoyed with soy sauce, wasabi, red chilli paste and vinegar, and a paste made of sesame oil, garlic and soybean.

Hangover cures

As a result of Korea's drinking culture, a large array of hangover-curing dishes and drinks are very popular in Seoul. From pre-drinking to post-drinking beverages to delicious and spicy stews and broths, there is a large range of hangover cures available for tourists interested in having a big night in South Korea.

Located in Eungam-dom, Daerim Market is home to Gamjaguk Street, an alley named after a famous Korean dish that spans the centuries. This deliciously hot potato and pork broth is also eaten as a cure for hangover. In the alley you can purchase the broth by referring to it as "guk."

But that is not Korean broth designed to cure your hangover. Made from beef broth, with cabbage, bean sprouts, radish and chunks of congealed ox blood, haejang-guk is a satisfying stew guaranteed to kick-start your dehydrated body after a big night. One of the best places to get this dish from is Chungjinok, which has been making it ever since 1937.

Gwangjang Market

Located in one of Seoul's oldest neighborhoods – Jongno-gu – and home to over 200 stalls, Gwangjang Market is Seoul's largest food alley. If you hungry while shopping for clothes or jewelry, from stall to stall you'll find a large variety of dishes to sample, ranging from spicy rice cakes to sushi, noodles, dumplings and numerous local delicacies. The market is renown for its specialty, which is the golden fried nokdu bindaetteok – mung-bean pancake – paired with makgeolli (rice wine).

Namdaemun Market

Gawngjang market might be the city's largest good alley, but if you are looking for an authentic Korean experience, you might want to head to Namdaemun market. Best known for being the biggest traditional market in South Korea, the market is the best place to sample locally produced food, ranging from cuttlefish and noodle soup to meat, chicken's feet and pancake.

Samwon Garden

Surrounded by alluring traditional gardens and waterfalls, Samwon is famous not only for its food but also for its heavenly ambience. Best known for serving world-class galbi – barbecued-beef meal - in the course of the last three decades, Samwon also offers less expensive options such as galbitang.