S(e)oul searching for what to eat on your trip to Seoul? From spicy tteokbokki rice cakes to wriggling Sannakji octopus tentacles, and even something as exotic as stewed silkworm larvae, here are some signature dishes you have to try in the Land of Morning Calm.
Ahh, the fragrant smell of tangy kimchi alongside tiny platters of colorful (and refillable) Banchan side dishes. The sight of a piping hot bowl of brothy Odeng Soup topped with skewered fishcakes is just enough to warm the soul in the cold Korean winter. This is just one of the things to look forward to when traveling to the birthplace of K-pop culture and famed idols. So, if you’re a foodie hunting for a guide on what to eat in Seoul, you’re in the right place. Read on for more!
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An incredibly popular Korean dish, this is one you’ve probably heard of before. With Bibim standing for “mixed,” and bap translating to “cooked rice”, the term Bibimbap basically means “mixed rice”. Though made in a number of variations, this colorful warming bowl of white rice is typically topped with seasoned and sauteed vegetables, kimchi, a runny fried egg, gochujang (red chili pepper paste), doenjang (soybean paste), and soy sauce. It’s then served in a sizzling hot stone bowl called a dolsot (돌솥) for the right layer of crackling, crispy rice on the bottom. A good spoonful of Bibimbap will certainly get your mouth watering for more.
Discover the best spots to eat Bibimbap if you’re looking for what to eat in Seoul
Image credits: Serious Eats
Ever felt your stomach rumble greedily as you watch your favourite Korean drama characters slurp up a bowl of Jajangmyeon noodles in satisfaction after a long day? Why not try the real thing in Seoul? This hand-pulled noodle dish is a crowd pleaser amongst Koreans as a takeout staple for its affordability and delectable savory taste. Drenched in a thick black sauce made of chunjang (black bean paste), diced pork, and vegetables, these springy noodles are best paired with a plate of dumplings or tangsuyuk (deep-fried, crispy sweet and sour pork), for a little party in your mouth.
Discover the best spots to eat Jajangmyeon if you’re looking for what to eat in Seoul
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Into fresh sushi? Well, Sannakji is more than just fresh, it’s alive and still wiggling! A controversial treat that will make even the most adventurous foodies stop in their tracks, this dish features a young live octopus that’s chopped up into small pieces, drizzled in sesame oil, and served immediately. Whatever you do, just keep chewing (again and again, and then a little more)! Suffice to say it may leave you avoiding the movie Finding Dory for a while – oops.
Discover the best spots to eat Sannakji if you’re looking for what to eat in Seoul
Image credits: Delicious
The perfect late-night supper snack in Seoul, Chimaek is the combination of the words “chi” in chicken and “maek” in maekju (beer). A beloved food pair, sports fans have been digging into crispy fried chicken while guzzling down a cold pint of refreshing beer since the 2010 World Cup. Have a taste of their Huraideu-chicken for some regular good old fried chicken. Or mix up your night with some Ganjang-chicken that’s coated with soy sauce or Yangnyeon-chicken for a little kick if you’re craving some spice!
Discover the best spots to eat Chimaek if you’re looking for what to eat in Seoul
Image credits: The Korean Herald
Boiled, tender pork that’s thinly sliced and traditionally served with salted napa cabbage wraps, lettuce, or perilla leaves, this pork wrap makes one bite burst with juicy flavors. Pair your wrap with some musaengchae (spicy radish salad), salted shrimps, fresh garlic slices, chili pepper, and/or fresh oysters to make your delicious Bossam feast complete.
Discover the best spots to eat Bossam if you’re looking for what to eat in Seoul
6. Ganjang Gejang
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You might have had your fill of black pepper and chili crabs in Singapore, but what about soy sauce marinated crabs? Seoul boasts fresh, raw flower cabs that have been marinated in soy sauce brine mixed with apples, onions, garlic, and chili peppers. Can you imagine taking a bite of that cold tender crab meat? Sweet, salty, and spicy all at the same time, locals love pairing this dish with a bowl of hot fluffy rice. Here’s a little tip: add a couple of spoons of rice onto the shell and mix it in with roe and crab meat to discover an umami savory flavor that’s hard to beat.
Discover the best spots to eat Ganjang Gejang if you’re looking for what to eat in Seoul
Image credits: CityMag
Can you really say you’ve been to Seoul without stuffing your bellies with some authentic Korean barbeque? Translating to “meat roast”, Gogigui refers to meat that’s grilled on charcoal grills which are typically built into your dining table. Chow down on some Bulgogi (marinated beef tenderloin/sirloin slices) and Galbi (marinated beef short ribs)! A common way of eating it involves wrapping up your aromatic meat slices in some lettuce topped with banchan and a slather of spicy ssamjang sauce. A definite must-try for meat lovers.
Discover the best spots to eat Gogigui if you’re looking for what to eat in Seoul
Image credits: Seasoned By Jin
A traditional Korean beef bone soup that’s served with sliced meat and a bowl of rice, Gomtang is the soup to warm you down to your toes in Seoul’s numbingly cold weather. Made by boiling beef and radish for hours, this soupy dish consists of a rich yet light broth that’s full of sweet beefy flavors. Sprinkle in a couple of green onions, a pinch of salt, or even dunk in some radish kimchi to give your meal a little more oomph.
Discover the best spots to eat Gomtang if you’re looking for what to eat in Seoul
Image credits: Flickr
Now hear me out, these steamed silkworm pupae may not look like the most appetizing delicacy to hunt down in Seoul. And you’re right. But it does make a nice juicy, nutty snack. With a hint of a fishy tangy twist, Beondegi might be a nice surprise for those who have the guts to try it. Firm and chewy with just a bit of a crunch, these silkworm pupae are cooked in large pots over open flames. It’s then served in paper cups for adventurous consumers to stab with a toothpick.
Discover the best spots to eat Beondegi if you’re looking for what to eat in Seoul
10. Haemul Pajeon
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This chewy savory pancake is made with scallions and seafood and is one of the best appetizers to snack on in Seoul. Other well-loved variations of this Pajeon include Kimchi Jeon (kimchi pancakes), Buchjeon (pancakes stuffed with garlic chives), and Nokdujeon (nutty mung bean pancakes). These crispy, golden brown pancakes are also traditionally paired with a bottle of Makgeolli (milky Korean rice wine) to hit the spot on a nice rainy day.
Discover the best spots to eat Pajeon if you’re looking for what to eat in Seoul
Image credits: Flickr
You may have eaten Tteokbokki in Singapore, but have you eaten it under tarp tents from street food vendors? These bright red chewy Korean rice cakes come in varying levels of spice with a sauce that is thickened using Gochujang (red pepper paste). It’s typically paired with Odeng (skewered fishcakes), Twigim (fried food), and Sundae (blood sausage). Stroll through the night markets of Seoul with a bowl of Tteokbokki in hand! Nothing feels better than comfort food.
Discover the best night markets to eat Tteokbokki if you’re looking for what to eat in Seoul
Image credits: Food52
A beloved summertime Korean treat, these cold noodles are surprisingly renowned even during the frigid winter months. Made with chewy thin buckwheat noodles and served in chilled dongchimi (winter radish kimchi) and/or beef broth, these mul naengmyeon noodles are typically topped with tender beef brisket slices, a hard-boiled egg, cucumber, and slices of pear. Additionally, its served with vinegar and yellow mustard to create its iconic slightly sweet-sour taste. But if you’re a spice enthusiast, perhaps the Bibim Naengmyeon would be more suited to your palate. Mixed in red, spicy sauce, this dish undoubtedly adds to your version of an ideal Seoul experience.
Discover the best spots to eat Naengmyeon if you’re looking for what to eat in Seoul
Image credits: My Korea Trip
Attention all sweet tooths! Don’t miss a chance to sink your teeth into some Hotteoks when in Seoul. A stuffed pancake filled with sweet, syrupy goodness, it’s typically made of brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, and walnuts. Crispy and fried on the outside while still retaining its chewy texture, Hotteoks will, without a shadow of a doubt, be your new addictive snack to crave after your trip.
Discover the best spots to eat Hotteok if you’re looking for what to eat in Seoul.
Image credits: KOCIS
Last but not least on our list is Sikhye. This traditional rice-based drink is made of fermented malt and rice. Sweet and refreshing to the tongue, it’s served with floating rice grains, pine nuts, and dried jujubes. Usually served in a bowl, it’s good as a digestion aid for dessert to end off your hefty meals!
Discover the best spots to eat Sikhye if you’re looking for what to eat in Seoul
Let Your Inner Foodie Loose As You Read Up On Our Food Guide Of What To Eat In Seoul
Now that you know what local delicacies you should go on the prowl for, you’re ready to live out your K-Drama dreams in the beautiful city of Seoul! Whether you’re splurging on a scrumptious bowl of noodles or shopping in night markets, don’t forget to pay for your meal with your YouTrip card to make full use of our Wholesale Exchange Rates and skip those pesky bank fees.
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