Korean Food – Your Guide to the Best Cuisine in the South

Last Updated on October 13, 2021 by 90 Day Korean
Korean soup in a black bowl

Have you tried Korean food? If not, you’re in for a treat!

And if so, then you’re going to love what we have in-store today.

Korean food is healthy and tasty, with lots of different varieties for every season. And by trying the food, you’ll also be experiencing the culture.

Whether you’re in a Korean BBQ restaurant in your current city or you’ve made the trip and are exploring the authentic street food of Seoul, we’ve compiled the top Korean food lineup you should be on the lookout for.

Let’s get to it!

Korean soup in a black bowl

Don’t be alarmed if some of these foods are like nothing you’ve ever seen before – Korean cuisine is known for incorporating exotic complementary flavors and often incorporates bright colors and funky textures.

Each of the foods on our list has something unique that sets it apart from the rest, so try as many as possible to get an accurate taste of Korea!

Contents

We’ve included the names of food in Hangul, the Korean alphabet, so that you can find them in Korea more easily. If you can’t read Hangul, it is possible to learn in just ninety minutes using fun associations and stories. It will be helpful when reading menus in Hangul.

Onto our list of delicious Korean food!

Korean Side Dishes

Kimchi (김치 | gimchi)

Kimchi is a tried and true staple that has been around for over two thousand years in various Korean food. It’s made through salting and fermenting to create a distinctively spicy flavor, and it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to cabbage. (Seriously. What other food has made you excited about cabbage?)

Korean Kimchi

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Kimchi is one of the most versatile Korean side dishes out there. While classic, cabbage kimchi is the original favorite and is available pretty much everywhere in Korea, different types of vegetables can be salted and fermented to create different tastes (with some being spicier than others!).

If you’re looking for a way to spice up an otherwise bland meal, incorporate one of the many types of kimchi! It’s a classic crowd favorite for a reason, and you won’t be disappointed. Note that kimchi may be spelled as “kimchi” or “gimchi.” Kimchi is the more common way, while gimchi is the newer spelling.

There are many different varieties of kimchi, from plain to extra spicy. There are also many types of ways to make Kimchi made from different types of ingredients. Each kimchi maker has his or her own style. Some people use green cabbages to make Yangbaechu Kimchi or Green Cabbage Kimchi.

This spicy banchan (반참 | side dish) is usually served as a side dish to many Korean barbeque combos.

Kimchi in Korean is spelled “kimchi” or “gimchi.” Kimchi in Hangul is 김치.

Tofu kimchi (두부 김치 | dubu gimchi)

Dubukimchi is a Korean food featuring three distinct, different flavors – tofu, pork, and kimchi. While tofu isn’t necessarily exciting on its own, it pairs wonderfully with the stir-fried pork and kimchi in this dish because of the intense flavor of the latter two balances out the subtle flavors of the tofu.

The tofu brings together the kimchi and the pork’s intense flavors, which need the tofu to bring them together into a cohesive, balanced dish. This Korean food is also jam-packed with protein from the tofu and the pork as well as nutrients from the fermented kimchi – you’ll be making your body happy as well as your taste buds!

This food is a common banchan that is served along with Korean Barbeque. Order a plate of dubukimchi the next time you want a solid, satisfying entrée full of flavorful elements that are great on their own and as a trio. You won’t be disappointed!

Dotorimuk (도토리묵)

Dotorimuk is a curious Korean food – made from acorn starch solidified into cold, dense jello. Dotorimuk is a similar fish to tofu in that it is full of protein and vegan-friendly food. It is also versatile in its flavor in the same way that tofu is – dotorimuk does not have a distinct flavor of its own, so it can be served with a variety of flavors and textures to enhance or bring together a meal because it takes on the flavor of what it is prepared with.

Dotorimuk is frequently served as a banchan side dish and can be paired with soy sauce to make the flavor more exciting. Take a walk on the wild side and order a side of dotorimuk the next time you see it on a menu!

Korean instant noodles (라면 | ramyeon)

Instant noodles are a type of food that has unarguably transcended cultural barriers. While popularized in Korea, they’ve become a kitchen must-have all over the world. Short on time? No worries! These noodles only require a couple of steps and are ready as quickly as the water boils – just follow the directions on the back of the packet.

Short on money? No problem. Korean instant noodles are notorious for their less-than-intimidating price tag. You can probably pick up a pack for less than the change that you have in your pocket right now.

While basic Korean instant noodles are relatively uncomplicated, there’s plenty you can do in the kitchen to spice up your noodle combo and make it a little more interesting. Try adding boiled egg, tuna, tofu, or other meat such as beef, slices of pork belly, or chicken – these Korean favorites can help a boring meal transcend to something sublime! You may also want to pair your cup of noodles with kimchi and mix it with cheese. Adding cheese is one of the best ways to lessen the spicy flavor of your noodles.

There are many different brands and varieties of Korean instant noodles. Some are spicy, and others are milder. Check them all out and see which one is your style.

Whether you’re treating instant noodles as an appetizer or your main course, you can’t go wrong with incorporating this classic staple into your meal. Instant noodles have become so much popular in Korea that there are even simple but unique ways you can eat them that will really impress your Korean friends!

Soy sauce crab (간장게장 | ganjanggejang)

As far as Korean seafood dishes go, ganjang gejang (crab prepared by soaking in soy sauce before serving) is a gem that’s not for the faint of heart. Ganjang gejang is a powerful South Korean dish served cold, and it’s notorious for its bitter aftertaste that tends to linger long after you’ve finished eating.

Though this Korean cuisine is on the intense end of the spectrum, it’s also insanely popular – the food’s nickname is “rice thief,” because the sauce is so tasty that it’s hard to resist piling extra rice onto your plate to soak it all up once the crab is gone!

The next time you’re out and see ganjang gejang on the menu at your favorite Korean restaurant, consider ordering it so you can know what all the fuss is about – you may find that you have a new favorite meal!

Yukhoe (육회)

Raw slices of marinated beef may sound intimidating at first – fear not, foodies. This Korean cuisine is perfectly safe and is best known as steak tartare in other countries, which is considered a delicacy in most places and can be found in fine dining establishments.

Korean Yukhoe

Photo credit: http://www.foodspotting.com

This Korean food can either be served as a standalone meal or as a topping on another dish. If it’s your first time, I recommend ordering it as a standalone food so you can appreciate the flavor (and the experience) without distraction from other strong flavors. Be warned, however – while tasty and tender, the meal’s price can be a bit higher than average, as chefs choose the best selections of marinated beef to star in the Korean favorite.

If you love meat and don’t mind paying a little bit extra to get a meal you know you’ll love, yukhoe may be a delicacy for you!

Bibimbap (비빔밥)

If you’re on your lunch break and are on a time crunch, bibimbap may be the perfect food to leave you satisfied and get you back to the office on time. A Korean favorite takes multiple food groups and combines them in one lunch bowl to make sure you’re getting a balanced lunch in a simplified form.

Bibimbap is mixed rice, vegetables, meat, and a fried egg for a balanced flavor, so it also hits all of your major food groups for the day. Sesame oil and chili paste are added to the dish for a little extra flavor to really bring the meal together and add a spicy element that makes it so popular.

While bibimbap used to be a meal meant for Korean royalty, it’s now accessible all over Korea and a crowd-pleaser. This mixed rice dish can be served as the main food or along with Korean Barbeque. Get your fix of vegetables and give bibimbap a shot on your next lunch break – you’ll be glad you did!

Doenjang (된장)

I’m sure that you’re familiar with soy sauce. It is a staple in many Asian cuisines, and it complements anything due to its savory nature. However, did you know that soy sauce is a byproduct of doenjang? Doenjang is a paste derived from fermented soybeans – it boasts a strong taste and a not-so-appealing color, so it’s not quite as popular as soy sauce on its own.

However, doenjang is a beloved Korean cuisine that can spice up simple dishes in a way that other spices can’t if you’re looking to add a little more character than soy sauce can provide on its own. Give it a try in bibimbap – the taste may be something you’ve never experienced and set a new spice standard for your meals!

Haemul Pajeon (해물파전)

How do you like your pancakes? Warm, with maple syrup? How about full of seafood? This South Korean meal turns the basic pancake concept on its head. These crunchy fried pancakes are stuffed to the brim with different vegetables and seafood ingredients, resulting in a satisfying, savory meal.

You may also see this food nicknamed “Korean pizza” since it looks like an actual pizza.

These pancakes are said to go well with rice wine – pour yourself a glass and enjoy this intricate South Korean meal.

Oimuchim (오이무침)

While most of the dishes on this list can be considered a full meal (or close to one), oimuchim is the answer if you’re in search of a light summertime dish but can’t bring yourself to eat anything too heavy or filling. Most commonly eaten as a snack or a side dish, oimuchim is a cut-up cucumber marinated in vinegar and red chili flakes.

Cucumber is arguably one of the best summertime vegetables due to its high water content and crisp texture. The vinegar and red chili flakes combine to bring out the subtle flavors of the cucumber. The chili flakes also add a spice that makes the dish interesting (because, face it, although it’s great, cucumber isn’t super interesting on its own).

Order a side of oimuchim as a standalone refresher or as a complementary side dish to one of the larger dishes on this list!

Golbaengi Muchim (골뱅이무침)

Don’t knock this food before you try it! While “snail” isn’t a word that makes most people’s mouths water (unless you’re an escargot fan), sea snail salad is a traditional Korean dish that pairs perfectly with an alcoholic beverage – something about the taste of snail, the spicy flavor and the bitter taste of alcohol really complement each other.

Had a long week at work? Look no further! Relax with a beer (or two) and dive into some sea snail salad for a spicy treat to take an edge off.

Jjolmyeon (쫄면)

Jjolmyeon is basically a noodle dish but with a fresh approach to more traditional noodle dishes – rather than being served hot, and this noodle dish is served cold and chewy. The dish’s temperature and the crunchy vegetables make it a refreshing treat, so this is a great food to enjoy during the sweltering Korean summer.

Korean Jjolmyeon

Photo credit: http://peegaw.tumblr.com

Extra thick noodles are combined with spicy chili paste and a variety of fresh vegetables, and they all come together to form something magical. Dig into a bowl of jjolmyeon for a refreshing (yet spicy!) snack, and you’ll quickly understand all of the hype.

Gyeranjjim (계란찜)

This dish is often served as an appetizer at Korean BBQ restaurants. You’ll see it together with some of the spicier options on this list to bring the meal together – and give your mouth a break from all of the spice! An egg is beaten, steamed, and baked into a moist, dense cake, resulting in a dish that is mild in flavor and soft to the touch.

Served plain or with vegetables and sesame seeds on top to bring out the slightly salty flavor, give this Korean dish a try the next time your eyes are watering from a spicy dish! Something about the egg’s mild taste acts as a neutralizer for a lot of spice, so if you’re in over your head with a dish’s spice factor, this dish will help you cool off.

Korean Soups

Kimchi stew (김치찌개 | gimchijjigae)

Kimchi pairs well with almost everything, so it’s only natural to make its unique flavor the focus of a stew! Kimchi-jjigae is one of the most popular South Korean stew dishes out there, and the popularity of this stew is no surprise when you consider how popular kimchi is as a standalone food.

Korean Food 25 Kimchi stew (Kimchi-jjigae)

Photo credit: http://maangchi.com

While the vegetables and meat that the stew incorporates can change from restaurant to restaurant depending on preference and availability, the most popular versions of kimchi stew include tender, savory slices of pork belly,  scallions, and a whole lot of kimchi. You’ll often get a bowl of rice with it as well.

You can mix and match with the protein and vegetables that sound best to you, so this warm, filling stew can be whatever you want it to be! Try a bowl of kimchi-jjigae the next time you want something that will fill you up and provide some intense flavor profiles at the same time.

Ox Bone Soup (설렁탕 | Seolleongtang)

Don’t let the name scare you! Ox bone soup is a delicious Korean favorite that proves that simple food can be better than more complex meals if it’s done well. Ox bone soup only has a few ingredients – ox bones (meat cooked with the bones) noodles, and a couple of sparse scallions float around in a milky-white colored broth for an extra kick.

This is the perfect meal for a cold day, or if you’re feeling a little under the weather – think of it as a Korean rendition of the classic chicken noodle soup cold cure. Warm, satisfying, and simple, give ox bone soup a try the next time you’re looking for a classic cold-weather meal!

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Galbitang (갈비탕)

Galbitang, a Korean soup made from simmering beef ribs, is the perfect dish if you’re suffering from a cold or allergies that have your nose and sinuses clogged up.

There’s nothing worse than not being able to breathe through your nose while you’re sick — pressure starts to build in your head, you have tissues on hand all day, and the post-nasal drip never seems to end! The next time you find yourself stuffed up, make yourself a bowl of galbitang, and you’ll clear your nose right up!

Galbitang is prepared by simmering beef over a low to medium temperature until the meat is so tender it literally falls off the bones. There are different variations of this soup, but the one you should prepare yourself also incorporates spicy hot peppers, which help open up the sinuses and get you breathing again.

This Korean food is also ideal for when you’re feeling under the weather because it’s hearty and full of nutrients, so you’ll make sure that your body has the energy and fuel it needs to fight off your illness and feel better as soon as possible.

Hangover Stew (해장국 | haejangguk)

The Korean drinking scene is no joke and not for the faint of heart – with a ton of interesting Korean alcohols like soju available at most bars, restaurants, and grocery stores, it should be no surprise that food is called affectionately ‘hangover stew’ is a staple throughout Korea.

Served with a side of rice, this stew is made with congealed chunks of ox blood, and something about the sodium content helps immensely with waking your brain up when you’ve done some damage the night before.

Don’t let the blood scare you! If you’re spending time in Korea soon, you’ll probably spend some time enjoying the great bars scattered throughout the country, so this Korean food will definitely come in handy. Give hangover stew a try the next time you need to roll out of bed bright and early after a night of drinking, and you’ll see why the Koreans can’t do without it.

Army Stew (부대찌개 | budaejjigae)

The origin story behind this warm, satisfying stew is as interesting as its name! Army stew soared in popularity immediately after the Korean War, when times were tough and the meat was expensive and hard to come by. This Korean stew is filled with pantry staples like spam, American cheese, and instant noodles – plus a side of rice – all foods that were easily found at an army base in Seoul and widely available to the public.

Korean Food 20 Army Stew

Photo credit: http://koreanbapsang.com

The best part about Korean Army Stew is that you can mix and match ingredients based on what you have in your pantry or fridge at any given time, so there’s no need to run out to the store to pick up specific additional ingredients – how convenient is that? Give Army Stew a try the next time you REALLY don’t feel like trekking to the grocery store before cooking dinner, and you may be surprised at what you come up with!

Haemultang (해물탕)

Hamaeltang is a ‘live seafood soup,’ but perhaps not in the way you are thinking – while the seafood is initially live, it is cooked in a scalding soup before it is served, so the seafood isn’t technically live when you’re eating it. That being said, seafood doesn’t get much fresher than hamultang!

This Korean soup is made with various spicy pastes and vegetables that give it a unique flavor and make it a favorite at Korean restaurants. Give a bowl of hamultang a try the next time you’re in the mood for seafood – after one bowl, you’ll be hooked!

Naengmyeon (냉면)

Naengmyeon literally translates to “cold noodles,” and it’s exactly what it sounds like! This popular summer Korean food is made of thin, long noodles made from buckwheat and vegetables like potato and sweet potato.  This buckwheat noodle dish is served with a zesty stock, and sliced cucumber, pear, and radish are often added for additional flavor and crunch.

Don’t let the chilled part fool you —  the broth of Naengmyeon is made from chilled beef or chicken stock, so it’s a hearty dish that will fill you up. This is definitely one of the more nutritious meals you’ll find in Korea due to the broth’s added vegetables and protein.

The next time you’re out for a fun lunch with friends (especially during the summer), give naengmyeon and see why it’s such a classic! You’ll be instantly refreshed, and it will give you energy for the rest of the day.

Mak-guksu (막국수) is another chilled broth and is made of Korean buckwheat noodles.  Although customer’s preferences might vary, Mak-guksu is often very spicy because of the pepper paste sauce that is made with it. It’s best served with a boiled egg on top.

Kimchimariguksu (김치말이국수)

As you’re most likely already aware, kimchi is wildly popular throughout Korea and around the world. It’s difficult to find a menu without a dish that features kimchi in Korea due to its incredible versatility and intense taste profile. It’ll come as no surprise, then, that one of the most popular Korean summertime dishes is a celebration of kimchi!

Kimchimariguksu is a dish that incorporates cold noodles and an iced mixture of broths made from kimchi and meat. The result is a delicious flavor that marries the saltiness of the kimchi with the rich, savory notes of the meat, and the fact that it’s served cold makes the flavors that much more intense.

Kimchimariguksu will keep you cool, but your mouth will be feeling the heat from the spiciness of the kimchi. This dish is a great way to get your spice fix in the summer because the broth’s temperature will help you endure the spice without sweating up a storm.

Dalkalguksu (닭칼국수)

Dalkkalguksu is a classic Korean take on chicken noodle soup. Like samgyetang, dalkkalguksu features chicken that has been seasoned to perfection in a hot, savory broth, served with hearty noodles. Most variations of dalkkalguksu feature zucchini and green onions tossed with vinegar, brightening up the dish and making it an all-time favorite.

Although dalkkalguksu isn’t a chilled dish, it’s popular for the same reason that samgyetang is popular: dalkkalguksu is meant to help relieve the negative effects of sweating summer fatigue by nourishing you and getting you back in tip-top shape. Order this crowd-pleaser after your next day in the sun, and you’ll see why Korean diners say this dish helps them survive the summer!

Soft tofu stew (순두부찌게 | sundubujjige)

If you’re looking for the perfect snack on a chilly, rainy winter day, look no further! Soft tofu stew is amazing for a couple of different reasons.

First, it combines distinct but very complementary flavors that make some magic happen in your mouth: the combination of silky soft tofu, kimchi broth, egg, and seafood is a force to be reckoned with. The contrast in texture between the seafood, tofu, and egg is amusing.

Second, this is a great Korean dish if you’re looking for a protein fix. Between the egg, the tofu, and the seafood, you have three different types of protein coming together to fill you up and leave you satisfied. Make some soft tofu stew the next time you need to warm yourself up!

Make sure to make some steamed rice to enjoy with it – you can use the rice to soak up the last few spoonfuls of the soup when you get to the bottom of the bowl. Look for this Korean food served alongside many different types of Korean BBQ.

Mandutguk (만둣국) & Tteokguk (떡국 )

Similar to porridge being popular because of how warm and filling it is, these two soups are popular go-to winter meals because they’ll warm you right up.

As if the warm soup isn’t amazing enough when it’s cold outside, there’s more! mandutguk contains dumplings, whereas tteokguk is full of rice cakes. If you can’t decide between the two, then you can sit on the fence and order 떡만둣국 (tteongmandutguk). It has both dumplings and rice cakes in it, so knock yourself out!

Samgyetang (삼계탕)

What better way to make yourself feel better when you’re suffering from a stuffy nose and fever than a steaming hot bowl of chicken soup? Samgyetang is a bowl of Korean chicken soup, but don’t be fooled — this isn’t the chicken noodle soup you’re used to eating when you’re sick.

sick in Korea

Photo credit: http://mykoreankitchen.com

Samgyetang is made by stuffing a whole chicken with garlic, ginseng, and rice and bringing the dish to a boil until the broth is infused with the chicken’s flavors and the chicken is cooked through. When served, samgyetang is presented in a bowl with the whole chicken intact floating in the broth, and you’re meant to split open the chicken to get to the delicious flavors inside.

While not traditional chicken noodle soup, samgyetang is a dish consumed in Korea for its medicinal properties — it’s believed to help the body fight fire with fire, whether that be fighting the heat of a scalding summer day or fighting the heat of a fever.

Instead of eating cold food to cool yourself down the next time, you’re feeling feverish, try a piping hot bowl of this ginseng chicken soup for some much-needed relief!

Korean BBQ

Check out these amazing Meat Dishes that will surely make your mouth water.

Galbi (갈비)

If you’ve been to a Korean BBQ restaurant recently, the chances are that you or somebody at your table decided to go with galbi. Galbi literally translates to “rib,” and if not specified, the food can be centered around one of many types of meat depending on your preference (pork, chicken, or beef more often than not). Strips of meat are prepared with soy sauce, sugar, and garlic before being cooked over an open fire to ensure the outside is seared while the inside remains tender.

Korean Galbi

Photo credit: http://www.maangchi.com

The combination of the sugar, soy sauce, and garlic brings out the subtle flavors of the meat (pork, chicken, or beef) and makes this Korean cuisine a sweet, flavorful, and tender favorite. Galbi is often served with rice and other vegetables. This traditional meal is a crowd-pleaser at Korean BBQ restaurants, and for a good reason!

Bossam (보쌈)

While some of the Korean dishes on this list are intricate and have a long list of ingredients, bossam is a Korean food that is evidence that simple can still be tasty when the components are delicious on their own. Bossam is steamed, tender slices of pork belly into small, nearly bite-sized pieces wrapped in crisp lettuce and served with a dab of dip as a finishing touch.

The wrapping and dipping combine the different textures of the lettuce and the steamed pork slices of pork belly that really take this dish to the next level and make it a treat. The next time you’re craving a meat-based Korean dish or need some extra protein, have some bossam and leave the table feeling satisfied.

Bulgogi (불고기)

Bulgogi is delicious Korean food that is widely recognized as quintessential to the cuisine. The dish has long been a part of Korea’s culinary history. Millions of people have enjoyed it for thousands of years, so it has definitely stood the test of time!

Bulgogi is a sweet meat that has recently been incorporated into a variety of modern dishes, so it’s easy to find at most restaurants. Grab a bowl of rice and some lettuce for wrapping, and you’re in business. The next time you’re in Korea, make sure you try a bulgogi burger for a modern twist on a classic favorite!

Korean Seafood

Nakji bokkeum (낙지볶음)

Do you like to take a walk on the culinary wild side when you’re dining out? Do you live for trying foods that test your palette and make your eyes water? If so, make sure you add this Korean food to your list! Octopus is stir-fried with a medley of extremely spicy ingredients (chili powder and two different types of hot peppers), resulting in a combination that will surely make your mouth water.

Korean Nakji bokkeum

Photo credit: http://daoraejb.blogspot.com

The octopus is seared to the point where it’s tender on the inside, and the sauce is thick and smoky, making the food hard to stay away from. Pair this Korean specialty with gyeranjjim for a well-rounded meal that is packed with flavor – just make sure you’re a fan of spice before doing so!

Grilled clams (조개구이 | jogaegui)

More often than not, the food choices at your favorite Korean BBQ spot will revolve around tender strips of different meats such as pork, chicken, and beef (hence the ‘barbecue’). Jogaegui is a fun way to mix it up if you’re looking for something a little different! Shellfish is cooked over an open flame until it’s hot and ready for you to dig into – the shells crack open on their own, adding an extra flair to this Korean favorite.

Korean Jogaegui

Photo credit: http://www.mykoreaneats.com

Jogaegui is especially good if you can get it fresh from the ocean because what beats fresh shellfish that fishermen caught earlier that day? If you visit South Korea, give this Korean food a try to incorporate some saltwater fun into your meal the next time you need a break from meat!

Jangeogui (장어구이)

If you’re an adventurous eater, jangeogui is the dish for you!  Jangeogui, or grilled eel, is a popular snack rich in vitamins and minerals that will keep your body ready for anything. Although the idea of eating eel is a little intimidating if you haven’t done it before, the flavor is intensely delicious and can’t be found in other dishes!

Korean Summer Food 7 Jangeo gui

Photo credit: http://www.eatinkorea.com

The texture is also great — it’s a little bit tougher than fish, but when grilled, it becomes tender on the inside and develops a nice sear outside. Put your fears aside and try some jangeogui the next time your friends grill it up for dinner. You won’t regret it!

Mulhui (물회)

What’s better than sashimi, you ask? A chilled soup is full of spicy sashimi on a hot summer day! The recipe will vary from restaurant to restaurant because all different types of seafood can be used to give this dish flavor, but it’ll always be cold, a delight for your tastebuds, and perfect for the scorching Korean summer months.

Korean Summer Food 2 Mulhui

Photo credit: http://zenkimchi.com

Between the protein in the seafood and the spice’s kick in the sauce, mulhui is a great dish to have in the middle of a long day of fun and exploration in Korea. If you’re out and about checking out Seoul or the Korean countryside, eating a chilled dish like mulhui will cool you down and keep you from overheating, and the protein and vitamins in the dish will make sure you have the fuel that you need to keep going and crossing things off of your to-do list.

Korean Desserts

Bingsu (빙수)

If you need something sweet to tie together a rich meal, give bingsu a try for a decadent treat! Bingsu is Korean food in which sweetened red beans and tteok (made of rice flour) are laid atop refreshing freshly shaved ice. There are many different variations depending on your preferences – condensed milk, fruit, and corn flakes can be incorporated for different flavor and texture combinations.

Korean Bingsu

Photo credit: http://kangjenny.wordpress.com

This Korean food can be as simple or as complicated as you’d like, so feel free to mix and match flavors until you find your favorite. Bingsu is everywhere – be sure to give it a try during the summer months for a sweet end to an otherwise delicious meal!

Korean Ice Cream (아이스크림)

Korean ice cream is both similar and different from ice cream in Western countries. It’s found in convenience stores and grocery stores alike, so you should have no problem locating some frozen tasty treats when you need to cool down. However, some types of Korean ice cream are like nothing you’ve ever seen before!

Take Samanco, for example – Samanco is a fish-shaped waffle treat with vanilla ice cream and red bean paste sandwiched in the middle (yes, you read that right). Step outside of your comfort zone and give some of the more unique Korean ice cream desserts a try! They’re super inexpensive at most shops, so your ice cream adventure won’t break the bank. Some of these snacks are very difficult to find outside of Korea, so if you have the opportunity to try them, you absolutely should!

Korean Street Food

Apart from the scrumptious food that you can buy at restaurants, South Korea also offers a wide variety of street foods that are definitely worth trying.  Street food can be sold in food carts, food trucks, or mobile tents.  Just look for them lining up along busy streets and night markets.

Sundae (순대)

Sundae, the unique take on the blood sausage phenomenon in Korea, is a dish that smells and tastes better than it looks. This dish uses various body parts from both pigs and cows to create an unbeatable, complex dish that’s easy to scarf down.

Korean street food sundae

Source: http://theseoulguide.com

Have you ever tasted lung or liver? If not, 순대 can be your introduction. This is mostly served with lung or liver as a garnish. Don’t knock this blood sausage before you try it!

Tteokbokki (떡볶이)

Tteokbokki is not for the faint of heart – this dish comprises unassuming, mild rice cakes saturated in an intense, savory, spicy sauce. Korean spicy is definitely more intense than your everyday spicy, so tread lightly!

Korean street food ddeokbokki

Source: http://thelaygastronomer.wordpress.com

This dish is an age-old crowd-pleaser and is loved by people of all ages. This dish is often mixed with fish cakes. Give this fish cake and rice cake pair a try the next time you’re wandering through Seoul!

Hotteok (호떡)

If you’re familiar at all with the Korean food and street food in Seoul, chances are you’ve heard of hotteok.

Korean street food hotteok

Source: http://koreabapsang.com

Hotteok is a dessert dish that involves griddle cakes fried on a hot plate stuffed with various sweet additions, including different types of sugar, fruits, and syrups. Grab some hotteok the next time you’re craving something sweet – these are especially sweet when the weather gets cooler!

Egg bread (계란빵 | gyeranppang)

This dish, like fried snacks, is also pretty self-explanatory. A whole egg is stuffed and cooked inside the bread, served warm and crispy.

Korean street food egg bread

Source: http://www.thetattoobank.com

If you need some quick protein and carbs, egg bread is an efficient way to do it! Though traditionally eaten as a dessert food, egg bread also makes a smart breakfast (it knocks out two food groups at once!).

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Walnut cakes (호두 과자 | hodu gwaja)

Take a walk on the sweeter sign and give walnut cakes a try the next time you’re out and about.

Korean street food walnut cakes

Source: http://www.seoulistic.com

Packed with protein (both beans and walnuts), walnut cakes are a favorite in Korea that you can feel good about munching on.

Baby gimbap (꼬마 김밥 | kkoma gimbap)

Baby gimbap is one of the popular Korean street food in Seoul to eat on the go – it’s wrapped completely in seaweed, so it’s easy to pick up and snack on with minimal mess.

Korean street food baby kimbap

Source: http://www.pbs.org

There’s rice and your choice of topping in the seaweed – some of the more popular ingredient choices include kimchi and octopus. This food is filling and easy to track down – give it a try the next time you want to snack without the mess!

Rice cake skewers (떡꼬치 | tteokkkochi)

There’s no shortage of rice cakes on the Korean street food scene. This popular food, for instance, is simply grilled spicy rice cakes skewered on a stick. Unlike the 떡볶이 tteokbokki dish above, this one doesn’t have any fish cake.

Korean street food rice cake skewers

Source: http://www.yummly.com

Sometimes simple is best, and the insanely popular spicy rice cakes go to show it! Taste and try Korean rice cake skewers out the next time you’re looking for food and find a new appreciation for spicy rice cakes.

Sweet potato sticks (고구마 스틱 | goguma seutik)

Did you think we could get through a list about fast and easy Seoul street food delights without including some variation of fried potato?

Korean street food sweet potato sticks

Source: http://www.genconnect.com

These sticks are a (slightly) healthier alternative to their cousin, the French fries. However, they’re prepared the same way – deep fried in hot oil that your doctor probably wouldn’t be too thrilled about. Sweet potatoes are densely packed with nutrients and are a better choice for snacking than the average potato. Get ‘em while they’re hot!

Kimchi fried rice (김치볶음밥 | gimchibokkeumbap)

You can’t get more Korean than a Seoul street food dish that combines kimchi and fried rice for your snacking pleasure.

Korean street food kimchi fried rice

Source: http://norecipes.com

The dish also includes seaweed and can be topped with a fried egg and sesame seeds if you like. You must eat it warm, and you’ll be quick to realize why this Seoul street food meal is loved by so many!

Bundaeggi (번데기)

Bundaeggi is boiled silkworm larva.

Wait, come back! Let me explain. Does the fact that the larvae are boiled with sugar and soy make it sound more appealing?

Korean street food bundaeggi

Source: http://taliasfootsteps.wordpress.com

Despite sounding (and looking) not as enticing as the rest of the dishes on this list, this food is surprisingly popular and can be found throughout most cities in Korea. Grab a cup the next time you come across street vendors serving bundaeggi – think of the story you’ll be able to tell your friends!

Hotba (핫바)

This popular dish is fried fish paste, served on a chopstick for easy access.

Korean street food hotba

Source: http://www.pinterest.com

Best served steaming hot, hotba is a great salty snack that has a kick to it. Give it a try with ketchup and mustard for the full effect.

Cup chicken (컵 치킨)

This Korean fried chicken, cup chicken, is unlike any dish you’ll find at a Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Korean street food cup chicken

Source: http://fortheloveof.blogspot.com

The spicy sauce that the dish is prepared in makes this fried chicken uniquely Korean while still delivering the crispy, savory, satisfying experience that Korean fried chicken is known (and loved) for. Most Korean fried chicken in cup chicken is mixed with fried tater tots. Talk about a fried food experience!

Ice cream-filled waffles (아이스크림 와플)

This one almost doesn’t need an explanation – who doesn’t love ice cream or waffles? This is one of the popular Korean street foods in Seoul, and it pairs two of the best foods on earth and marries them into one, easy-to-eat, delicious Korean food that you can eat on the go.

Korean Street Food 14 Ice Cream Filled Waffles

Source: http://wafflesource.com

I personally love that the waffle adds a bit of crunch to the dessert that ice cream doesn’t have on its own – it makes this treat way more satisfying than enjoying each of them solo. Try Korean waffles the next time you’re looking for something light a sweet after a filling Korean meal!

Cotton Candy (솜사탕 | somsatang)

Cotton candy isn’t a dessert limited to fairs and carnivals in Korea – it’s actually one of the most popular desserts sold at street food stalls in big cities like Seoul! Light and fluffy, this is the perfect snack if you’d like something light and sweet without committing to a full-blown dessert (despite the intimidating size of the cotton candy you’ll find in Seoul).

Korean Street Food 15 Cotton Candy

Source: http://jamieliew.com

Korean cotton candy is often shaped in super fun shapes, too – you’ll find cotton candy shaped like flowers and animals just as often as you’ll find traditional, shapeless cotton candy. The best part is that because cotton candy is so commonplace in Korea, you won’t have to deal with waiting in line with twenty children in front of you before you get your snack. Pick up some cotton candy the next time you want a taste of childhood and a delicious treat at the same time – you’ll be glad you did.

Sugar Lollipop (설탕뽑기 | seoltangppopgi)

If candy is more your style than baked goods or cold desserts, Korean lollipops are street food that is right up your alley. Crisp and very sweet, these lollipops are made from sugar that has been caramelized with a tiny bit of baking soda added to it. Sounds easy enough to make at home, right?

Korean Street Food 16 Sugar Lollipop

Photo credit: http://blog.daum.net

What you won’t find at home, however, is the fun contest the dessert vendors usually participate in – if you can bite all around the stars, hearts, and other shapes usually placed in the center of the lollipop without cracking the candy itself, you get another one for free! If you love candy, give the challenge a try – best-case scenario, you get two sugar lollipops, and worst-case scenario, you still have one!

Goldfish Bread (붕어빵 | bungeoppang)

Think of goldfish bread, or bungeoppang in Korean, as delicious waffle-like, fish-shaped bread filled with sweet red bean paste deliciousness. Prepared with a mold similar to a waffle iron, this food is best when served warm. The warmth combined with the crunch of the freshly toasted bread and the sweetness of the red bean paste filling makes for a delicious and easy-to-eat dessert treat.

Korean Street Food 17 Goldfish Bread

Photo credit: http://www.pinterest.com

The first thing you’ll notice about this snack is its fish-shaped appearance. There are also many different variations of bungeoppang that make this food even more fun and exciting. For example, you’ll see versions of this pastry filled with ice cream and chocolate syrup, taking the sweetness factor to the next level. Whether you’re craving something mildly sweet or something out-of-this-world sweet, pick up the fish-shaped bungeoppang. That is if you’d like to eat Korean dessert snacks, which are a little more substantial than candy.

Potato Hot Dogs (감자핫도그 | gamjahatdogeu)

Calling all cars – this is NOT a drill! One of the Korean street foods that I am most excited about on this list is the potato hot dog, a crowd favorite in Korea.

Korean Street Food 18 French Fry Hot Dog

Photo credit: http://pinterest.com

This food is literally a hot dog cooked to perfection and then covered in crispy, golden potatoes. What’s not to love? Pick up a potato-covered hot dog the next time you want to kill two birds with one stone (and have a great time doing it).

Deep-fried squid (오징어 튀김 | ojingeo twigim)

If you’re a squid lover, look no further – this deep-fried snack is for you!

Korean Street Food 19 Deep-fried squid

Photo credit: http://www.pinterest.com

Why would you order small pieces when you can go big and order the entire squid? Definitely not for the mildly hungry; this is perfect if you’re looking for a filling, easy-to-eat replacement for a meal and think you can handle eating an entire deep-fried squid. Try Korean deep-fried snacks, and be sure to tell us about your experience in the comments below!

Fried snacks (튀김 | twigim)

Yep, it’s exactly what it sounds like! Everybody loves to eat Korean fried food.

Korean street food fried snacks

Source: http://theunashamedtourist.wordpress.com

Vendors of Korean food, specifically street food in Seoul, are well aware of this phenomenon. As a result, they offer various flash-fried vegetables and dumplings to satisfy your craving for flaky, fried goodness. Doctors say not to overdo it on the oil, but this is a great once-in-a-while treat that’s easy to eat on the go.

30cm Korean ice cream cone (30cm 아이스크림)

People in Korea don’t mess around when it comes to street foods in general, but they REALLY don’t mess around when it comes to ice cream. If you’re in search of one this summer, there is no better place to satisfy your craving than Korean street food stalls.

Korean Street Food 20 Insanely huge Korean ice cream cone

Photo credit: http://www.pinterest.com

30cm ice cream cones in Korea are three to four times the size of your typical Mr. Softee cone, so this dessert is definitely not for the faint of heart or anyone without some serious room in their stomach. If you love this dessert so much that you put other ice cream fans to shame, definitely pick up one of these bad boys so you can tell your friends back home that you successfully finished a monster ice cream cone!

Korean cuisine incorporates different flavors, textures, and combinations that many cuisines steer away from. As a result, many authentic Korean dishes are likely different from anything you’ve experienced for. Try some dishes from our list to give you a taste of some of the most popular flavors in Korea – and keep experimenting!

We’ve barely scratched the surface of the variety of dishes available in Korea and throughout the world. If this has motivated you to learn Korean, speak Korean, or expand your vocabulary, then we’ve got plenty of great resources for you.

Looking for something a little more daring? Then why not try some of Korea’s more unusual dishes?

You can also check out our article on spicy Korean Street food to try if you’re looking for fiery hot dishes.

Have you tried any of the dishes on this list? If so, what’s your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

    25 replies to "Korean Food – Your Guide to the Best Cuisine in the South"

    • Avatar for Ivon Ivon

      I’ve tried most of these dishes and I can tell you for me Korean food is the best including their bbq. I’ve visited Asia in many occasions but can’t wait to visit Korea ❤️

    • Avatar for HAN-DA-EUN HAN-DA-EUN HAN-DA-EUN HAN-DA-EUN

      OMG!!!!!!Korean foods are just soo amazing!!!!!I’m in love with them and I cant wait to go to SEOUL,SOUTH KOREA and have these foods. seeing them itself is making my mouth water, at least I must try to cook them, and thanks for the information, it helped a lot and learned a lot about KOREA’s food
      THANK YOU!!!!!
      KAMSAHABNIDA!!!!

      • Avatar for 90 Day Korean 90 Day Korean

        Thanks for your passionate comment, Da-Eun! ^^

      • Avatar for Ivon Ivon

        So agree with you ..loveee their food

    • Avatar for Carmelita Reynolds Carmelita Reynolds

      Am loving Korean food,have tried making kimchi lately, love it…

      • Avatar for 90 Day Korean 90 Day Korean

        Great work, Carmelita! How does your kimchi taste? ^^

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