Seoul is not as publicized as the other foodie hubs of Japan like Osaka, Tokyo, Fukuoka, Nagoya to name a few. But it doesn’t mean it is inferior. In fact, the culinary experience in Seoul cannot be directly compared to Japan. It is like comparing apples and oranges. So eat both!
I come from a country with a HUGE Korean population so I am very familiar with their cuisine. However, I must say that the culinary experience in Seoul is STILL at a whole different level. I hope we catch up with them soon.
SEOUL FOOD GUIDE: Samgyeopsal and Omgyeopsal
Samgyeopsal (삼겹살; Korean pronunciation: [sʰamɡjʌps͈al]) is a popular Korean dish that is commonly served as an evening meal. It consists of thick, fatty slices of pork belly meat. The meat, usually neither marinated nor seasoned, is cooked on a grill at the diners’ table. Usually diners grill the meat themselves and eat directly from a grill. It is typically served with ssamjang (Korean: 쌈장), vegetables, and lettuce leaves to wrap it in
A variation to try is the which Ogyupsal boasts 5 layers of fat compared to 3 layers of fat for the Samgyupsal. I must say that it was one the best grilled pork dishes I have ever tasted! However, it cannot be eaten alone and must be shared due to the very high fat content!
Best paired with Doenjang-jigae which is a home-cooked fermented Korean soybean paste stew
Doenjang-jjigae or soybean paste stew is a rich, silky jjigae (stew) made with doenjang (soybean paste) and available ingredients such as vegetables (scallions, aehobak, radishes, potatoes, chili pepper), mushrooms, tofu, seafood (shrimp, clams) and meat (beef, pork). Often, small amount of gochujang (red chili paste) is added for a hint of heat. It is one of Korea’s most-popular jjigae, served from breakfast to late-night. It is heartier, thicker and more pungent compared to doenjang-guk (soybean paste soup).[
And offcourse some local beer
SEOUL FOOD GUIDE: BULGOGI
Bulgogi (/bʊlˈɡoʊɡiː/; from Korean 불고기, literally “fire meat”) is a gui (Korean-style grilled or roasted dish) made of thin, marinated slices of beef or pork, grilled on a barbecue or on a stove-top griddle. It is also often stir-fried in a pan in home cooking. Sirloin, rib eye or briskets are frequently used cuts of beef for the dish. It is a beloved dish in both South and North Korea, having originated in the North. Bulgogi is ubiquitous in South Korea, from fancy restaurants to pan-ready kits at local supermarkets.[
This traditional Korean beef dish best eaten wrapped with fresh greens
SEOUL FOOD GUIDE: MUL NAENGMYEON
Naengmyeon (냉면; 冷麵, in S. Korea) or raengmyŏn (랭면, in N. Korea) is a Korean noodle dish of long and thin handmade noodles made from the flour and starch of various ingredients, including buckwheat (메밀, memil), potatoes, sweet potatoes, arrowroot starch (darker color and chewier than buckwheat noodles), and kudzu (칡, chik). Buckwheat predominates (despite the name, it is not a wheat but rather is more closely related to sorrel). Other varieties of naengmyeon are made from ingredients such as seaweed and green tea.
The version of Mul Naengmyeon that I really loved is the version which used buckwheat noodles submerged in a cold beefy broth
SEOUL FOOD GUIDE: ALASKAN KING CRAB
Alaskan King Crab is available in the Noryangjin Fish Market almost all year round
It is best to eat it steamed to savor its natural flavor
Towards the end of the meal, request your server to have the rice sautéed with leftover crab fat and garnished with seaweed-
SEOUL FOOD GUIDE: FRESH SEAFOOD
Other seafood dishes which complement the Alaskan King Crab are-
I love the red bean paste and their sweet ponzu sauce which they pair with the raw oysters. Oysters are also fresh and don’t have that after taste. One of the few places where you can eat raw oysters without having to worry about your tummy the next day.
Tuna, Yellow Fin Tuna, and Salmon Sashimi
Koreans eat sashimi differently than the Japanese as they have a variety of sauces (compared to the Japanese version of soy sauce + wasabi) which include a traditional red bean paste. Hence, sashimi is always a good dish to order when visiting the Noryangjin Fish Market. But in my opinion, the quality is still 2-3 notches lower than its counterpart in Japan.
Grilled Giant Scallops
This is a must try!!!!!
Stewed Sole Fish
Nothing I haven’t tasted before…But its a good filler.
SEOUL FOOD GUIDE: BEEF BBQ
Unlike Korean restaurants in other cities, one is given the choice of ordering multiple meats (even seafood included). But in Seoul, most BBQ restaurants focus on a particular meat be it beef, lamb, or intestines. When in Seoul, one must allocate at least ONE meal for Korean Beef BBQ which is easier to appreciate compared to lamb and intestines which have a more gamy taste.
Korean Beef BBQ is eaten 2 ways: 1. Marinated in BBQ Sauce 2. Cooked with no seasoning and eaten with salt and sesame oil
SEOUL FOOD GUIDE: LAMB BBQ
I loved the lamb skewers which were slowly cooked and paired with a paprika based seasoning. The grilled lamb chops were also very juicy and tasty. I just ate it with salt to taste the full flavor.
SEOUL FOOD GUIDE: KOREAN GREEN TEA INFUSED DESSERTS
Green tea ice cream and parfaits are special in Korea as the ingredients come form the beautiful Jeju Island