Riding on the Korean Hallyu wave across Asia and the rest of the world, more people are getting exposed to Korean cuisine, known today through centuries of social and political evolution. Perhaps you’ve even seen some of these famous dishes on Korean soap dramas while the protagonist sobs over some Patbingsu.
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Korean cuisine is readily available in many parts of the world, from street snacks to Korean Barbeque. But what about the real deal? When you travel to Seoul, the capital of South Korea, what should you eat? Below is a short list of essential things you should nom on when in Seoul, Korea. If you only have a week to feast while on a holiday, feast on these.
1. Ddeokbokki (Korean Spicy Rice Cakes) 떡볶이
Ddeokbokki is a popular Korean street snack made from soft rice cake, fish cake and sweet red chili sauce. It is commonly found at street snack stalls, eateries and restaurants – and they taste rather similar in terms of the rice cake. What is special about the ddeokbokki at Express Bus Terminal station is that unlike the usual thick chilli paste it is cooked in, their ddeokbokki is served in a more liquid flowy sauce – like a soup broth.
The rice cakes are also chewy and delicious while you slurp on the spicy broth. Do stop by after you are done shopping at Express Bus Terminal station.
2. Samgyupsal (Grilled Pork Belly BBQ) 삼겹살
Samgyupsal consist of thick slices of seasoned or unseasoned pork belly meat, grilled over a hot plate or metal grill. The various seasoning gives you that extra variety.
The walls leading down to the basement of Palsaek Samgyeopsal, one of the most popular places for samgyupsal, is literally covered in pictures of celebrities as well as snapshots from broadcast programs. This restaurant serves 8 different seasoned pork belly, of plain, wine, pine leaf, curry, red-pepper paste, herb, soybean paste, ginseng flavours respectively. I found the wine and curry seasoned pork belly to be my favourite. They also serve complimentary seafood hotpot as well.
The restaurant is tourist friendly, with servers whom can speak multiple languages. The Palsaek Samgyeopsal set costs 34,000 won, and serves 2 to 3 persons. There are 2 branches in Seoul, one in Sinchon and another in Hyehwa vicinity.
3. Gogigui (Korean BBQ) 고기구이
An extension of samgyupsal, is the full fledged Korean BBQ. Grab a few friends, order cheap soju, throw some pork (samgyupsal) or beef (sogogi) on the grill in the centre of the table and start feasting.
The meat is typically eaten with a vegetable wrap (lettuce or perilla leaves), with a dollop of ssamjang paste (fermented bean paste mixed with chilli pepper paste). Common accompaniments into the wrap include raw garlic, onion and/or marinated beansprouts.
4. Dakgalbi (Pan Fried Chicken) 닭갈비
Dakgalbi is a Korean dish originated from Chuncheon, Gangwon province. It is a gochujang (chilli pepper paste) marinated diced chicken, stir-fried together with sliced cabbage, sweet potato, scallions, onions, perilla leaves, and ddeok (rice cake) together on a hot plate.
A popular place to have dakgalbi will be at Yoogane. They have a few branches in Seoul: Myeongdong, Korea University and Hyehwa vicinity. The pricing here is at least three times cheaper than the Yoogane franchise in Singapore. I’m eating 5 tummy’s worth of dakgalbi before I return to Singapore. Marinated chicken galbi fried rice starts from 5,500 won per person. I would recommend you to add ramyeon noodles and cheese ddeokbokki. The stir-fried ramyeon noodles tastes like Korean style mee goreng
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