One of the first dishes everyone gets to know in Korean cuisine always seems to be bibimbap (비빔밥), especially if you have yet to visit Korea. That’s no surprise, since it’s also one of the most famous dishes among the Koreans.
The word bibimbap means ‘mixed rice’, which it accordingly stands for.
비비다 = to mix
밥 = rice
It’s a rice dish with assorted vegetables, and you’re supposed to mix them all together before eating. But while the vegetables used might vary depending on the restaurant, there’s a certain symbolism to them that doesn’t ever change.
Bibimbap originated from Jeonju, South Korea. While it’s worth the trip to go down there to try authentic bibimbap, if you’re in Seoul and pressed for time–fear not! You don’t have to leave the city to get yourself a great bibimbap tasting experience. Let us present you the best bibimbap in Seoul.
Best Bibimbap in Seoul #1: Gogung (고궁)
This restaurant located in Myeongdong, is often considered to make the best bibimbap in Seoul, especially by the older Koreans. Their style of bibimbap mimics the version of the dish that was served to the kings already during the Joseon Dynasty. However, the ambiance of the restaurant itself mixes modern and tradition.
They serve two types of bibimbap: Jeonju bibimbap (전주비빔밥) and dolsot bibimbap (돌솥비빔밥). Jeonju bibimbap is served cold, made specifically Jeonju style, and even using ingredients directly delivered from Jeonju. Meanwhile, dolsot bibimbap is served steaming hot. It is comes in a black hot stove pot, giving a distinctly different taste to the dish, though the ingredients remain the same.
Location: Jung-gu, Chungmuro-2-ga 12-14 (중구 충무로2가 12-14)
Best Bibimbap in Seoul #2: Jeonju Jungang Hoekwan (전주 중앙 회관)
Here’s another bibimbap restaurant right in Myeongdong. Although smaller than Gogung, it has been around nearly fifty years. It also serves both Jeonju-style and dolsot-style bibimbap, though the taste of their dishes is often regarded as richer, sweeter, and more intense than traditional bibimbap. Jeonju Jungang Hockwan, located in a small alleyway, seems to be geared mainly towards tourists. Although this makes the price of the food slightly higher than its local counterparts, it’s still worth checking out if you’re in the area.
Location: Jung-gu Chungmuro-1-ga 24-11 (중구 충무로 1가 24-11)
Best Bibimbap in Seoul #3: Mokmyeoksanbang (목멱산방)
If you want to add even more tradition to your eating experience, head over to this Hanok (Korean-style housing) restaurant with great traditional ambience inside. Located in Namsan, they have a variety of different bibimbap dishes to choose from. A peculiarity about the dishes you are served is that the bowl comes with only the rice and meat inside it; the vegetables are neatly served on a separate plate.
Location: Jung-gu, Yejang-dong (중구 예장동)
Best Bibimbap in Seoul #4: Walkerhill Ondal
It may be unusual to get your bibimbap from a restaurant attached to a luxury hotel, but Ondal Restaurant at the Walkerhill Hotel is one of the few that specialize in Korean food. The ingredients used in their bibimbap are of the highest quality possible, using organic vegetables, with a mix of modern and traditional in creating the dish. The price tag on this bibimbap is hefty, but if you want to enjoy a luxury bibimbap meal with great views of the Han River and you have the money to spend, make sure to make the trip over here.
Location: Gwangjin-gu Walkerhill-ro 177, 2F (광진구 왈커힐로 177 2층)
Best Bibimbap in Seoul #5: Sae Byeok Jib (새벽집)
If you happen to be on the southern side of the Han River and get struck with a craving for bibimbap, Sae Byeok Jib (새벽집) is the place to go. While it’s not a restaurant specializing in bibimbap, their yukhoe bibimbap (육회비빔밥), or “raw beef bibimbap”, is excellent. It’s also a great opportunity to try raw beef for the first time without its taste overwhelming you.
It comes with a side of seonjitguk (선짓국) which is basically coagulated blood. Not everyone might dare to try it, but if you are brave enough, you just might find yourself liking it! The price of the dish is quite affordable. This restaurant is known for its pricy and delicious galbi (갈비), aka “ribs”.
Location: Gangnam-gu, Cheongdam-dong 129-10 (강남구 청담동 129-10)
Best Bibimbap in Seoul #6: Grandma Yu’s Bibimbap (유할머니의 비빔밥)
One of the most authentic Jeonju bibimbap dishes is made right at Grandma Yu’s. It’s been around for 40 years. This restaurant is popular among locals, to the point where you can easily find yourself waiting in line for a seat in the restaurant. They also have dishes beside the bibimbap, if for whatever reason your serving didn’t fill you up.
Location: Jung-gu, Bukchang-dong 12-2 (중구 북창동 12-2)
Best Bibimbap in Seoul #7: Bon Bibimbap (본비빔밥)
Bon Bibimbap is a franchise that you can find all around Seoul without having to make a trek to a certain area just to get yourself a bowl of bibimbap. It’s more recent than most of the other restaurants on this list, but its long lunch lines will tell you immediately that their food is every bit as good. They perhaps have the most diverse selection of bibimbap, with very affordable prices.
Location: see restaurant locator here
Best Bibimbap in Seoul #8: Matna Bunshik (맛나분식)
This is a small restaurant located in a small alleyway in the heart of Wangsimni. It is especially popular among the many students in the area. Their cheese dolsot bibimbap is to die for! You won’t see too many people talking about this restaurant because it’s not known to people outside of the area, but everyone who has visited there vouches for their food.
Location: Seongdong-gu, Haengdang-dong (성동구 행당동)
Have you already tried the best bibimbap in Seoul? Let us know where in the comments below!