Korean-Food Lovers Guide To Where To Eat In Seoul

Korean-Food Lovers Guide To Where To Eat In Seoul

Attention all foodies in Seoul: Check out these 13 fantastic places to eat recommended by BB who has been to Seoul no less than 11 times!

I’ve been going to Seoul since 2003 and I’ve actually been there 11 times, which is quite plenty. Each of my trips range between two weeks to a month.

Also read: Budget Travel: 12 Days in South Korea with Just SGD1600

I can’t say that I’m very familiar with Seoul;  I am not the super touristy type and I’m not very good with directions. My trips to Seoul are usually very laid-back. I don’t go to a lot of places, and I don’t do a lot of things. I just wake up really late, stay up late as well and in between I just hang out or chill. Absolutely my favourite way to waste my time.

Although I try new places to eat practically every trip, I do have my own favourite places, or at least there are some places that I’d recommend friends to try. Since I always get people asking me where to eat in Seoul, I reckon I might as well just write a post about it. The next time someone asks me again, I’ll just give them the link!

Also read: 10 Must-try Street Delicacies in Seoul

1. Saemaul Sikdang Korean BBQ

Everyone who goes to Seoul ought to have at least one Korean BBQ meal. I recommend Saemaul Sikdang. ‘Sae’ means ‘new’, ‘maul’ means village, and ‘Sikdang’ (食堂) means restaurant.

It is a local chain and is a superb value for money. Lots of locals patron this restaurant and increasingly, more and more tourists are making their way here too. This is actually a 24-hour chain of BBQ restaurants and I believe they have English menu, so do ask for it. I used to go to the outlet at Hongdae, but I recently heard that the building had been knocked down. Fret not, you can check out ITS OTHER OUTLETS.

seoul

You see the lightbox next to the entrance? The guy in the photo is actually the chef-owner. He’s apparently really famous and owns a whole host of chains and restaurants in Korea and even overseas.

Anyway. the food quality here is good for the prices they are charging. If you want to know what to order (or if you want to know what I usually eat there), you can read MY MEATY POST. I highly recommend the Yeoltan Bulgogi with the cold noodles. Super shiok! I love the kimchi pork rice thingy, the salted grilled pork, and also the pig skin. Here is a quick guide to what to order at Saemaul Sikdang:

You can also check out what the Korean Tourism Organization recommends HERE. Click HERE for some nice pictures of the restaurant and the food. One extra tip for you when looking for barbecue meat restaurants in Seoul: there’s actually a BBQ restaurant alley in Mapo! Yea, the Koreans seem to have an alley for all the food they like, so do check it out. You can also read this old but still mighty-relevant and useful link on SEOULISTIC.

Back to Saemul Sikdang, I think there are two outlets in Gangnam, and here are the addresses:

SAEMAUL SIKDANG (새마을 식당)
Hours: 24-hr
Tel: +82-2-558-8592
831-32 Yeoksam-dong, Gangnam gu, Seoul
서울특별시 강남구 역삼동 831-32번지 동원빌딩 101호

Subway: Gangnam Station, Exit 2
Go towards Yangjae direction for 150m; straight alley right next to the National Bank.

SAEMAUL SIKDANG (새마을 식당)
Hours: 24-hr
Tel: +82-2-544-3284
164-12 Nonhyeon-dong, Gangnam gu, Seoul
서울특별시 강남구 논현동 164-12번지 1층

Subway: Nonhyeon Station, Exit 3
Go straight 400m towards Sinnonhyeon Station, make a left onto Gangnam-daero 112-gil Alley. Walk 50m and you will see the restaurant on the left.

2. Running Man Haha’s 401 BBQ Restaurant, Hongdae

Any Running Man fans?

Me, me, me!

Some of you might have heard that Gary and Haha both own restaurants selling grilled intestines. In actual fact, Haha has actually renovated his restaurant, changed the name and is now selling black pork BBQ.

The new restaurant is called 401 and it is located in Hongdae. You can read more about it HERE.

This is a nice map that Twinrabbit has kindly provided.

Haha’s 401 BBQ Restaurant
Hours: 5:00pm to 5:00am
395-17 Seogyo-dong, Mapo gu, Seoul
서울특별시 마포구 서교동 395-17

Subway: Hongdae Station, Exit 9 (or Hapjeong Station, Exit 3)
From Hongdae Exit 9, walk past the streets lined with roadside stalls and restaurants and go towards the main shopping streets (you will have to cross a busy road; just follow the crowds).

Past the shopping streets, turn left and walk towards Sang Sang Ma Dang (a famous landmark). 401 is just opposite SSMD. It is around a leisurely 15 minutes’ walk.

3. Seoga & Cook

Speaking of Hongdae, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Actually it isn’t that big a secret amongst Seoulites, but relatively few foreign travellers know about this place. If you or your travel buddies can’t really stomach eating Korean food everyday, Seoga & Cook is a fabulous place for an alternative cuisine. Seoga & Cook serves Western food (more Italian actually) at very generous portions!

Also read: Coffee, Cafes and Couples: 7 Best Cafes in Seoul for Couples

A few things to note when dining at Seoga & Cook:

Portions are huge – I am not exaggerating.. Each dish can be shared among 2 to 3 people, so be careful not to over-order.

  • All mains are all priced at KRW19,800 (approx. SGD23) .
  • Specialty dishes here include the pork steak salad and pilaf. If you Google Seoga and Cook for food reviews, you will read a lot of ‘ooooohs and aaaaaaahs‘ about how nice and how great value-for-money this place is. The pork steak salad comes with three slabs of pork, and it felt as if we had ordered pork steak with salad, rather than a salad dish.
  • The lemony beer is a great item to order on a hot summer’s day (or night for that matter).

You can click HERE, and HERE to read what others have to say about Seoga and Cook. They actually have quite a few outlets, but I’ll just tell you where the Hongdae one is.

Seoga & Cook, Hongdae
Hours: 11:30 AM ~ 3:00 PM, 5:00 PM ~ 10:30 PM
395-17 Seogyo-dong, Mapo gu, Seoul
(It’s just a couple of shops away from Haha’s 401 restaurant!)
서울특별시 마포구 서교동 395-17

Subway: Hongdae Station, Exit 9 (or Hapjeong Station, Exit 3)

From Hongdae Exit 9, walk past the streets lined with roadside stalls and restaurants and go towards the main shopping streets (you will have to cross a busy road; just follow the crowds). Past the shopping streets, turn left and walk towards Sang Sang Ma Dang (a famous landmark), Seoga & Cook is just diagonally opposite SSMD. It is around a leisurely 15 minutes’ walk.

4. Zen Hideaway

For more Western food, there’s a very nice restaurant in the swanky area of Agpujeong.

It is a bit of a walk from the nearest subway station (about 15 minutes). They also have outlets at Myeongdong and Hongdae, but the one in Agpujeong is the loveliest. It is a two-storey building with plenty of lush greens within the restaurant compounds. When you’re there, it will feel like you have been whisked away to some mighty secluded and private space within the city.

Although prices are not exorbitant, they are not exactly very cheap. Dine here if you feel like going somewhere with great ambience. Read more HERE.

Zen Hideaway (Agpujeong)
Hours: Weekdays: 11:30am – 02:00am, Weekends: 11:30am – 00:00mn
Tel: +82-2-541-1461, 6261
24, Eonju-ro 168-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 강남구 언주로 168길 24 (신사동)

Subway: Apgujeong Station (Subway Line 3), Exit 2
Upon exiting the station, make a u-turn and turn right at the corner. Go straight for 500m and cross the street at the crosswalk near Woori Bank. Turn right and continue straight for 200m. Turn left onto the alley next to the Luxe building. Zen Hideaway is 200m ahead on the right.

5. Tosokchon Samgeytang

One of the most famous Korean dishes has got to be the samgeytang, or ginseng chicken. Strangely, the Koreans particularly like to eat samgyetang during the hot summer months, believing that it will help them with their stamina and strength in the hot weather.

I, on the other hand, prefer to have steaming hot soupy stuff during winter.

Anyway, if you’re looking for samgyetang, look no further than Tosokchon (土俗村人參雞湯). It’s one of the best in Seoul, and the location is really fantastic. If you are planning to go to the Gyeongbokgung (the Palace), then you might want to fit this into your itinerary as well.

Tosokchon is a really short walk away from the subway station. It is housed in a hanok, so you can also get to see what a traditional Korean home looks like if you have a meal here.

The late President Roh Moo Hyun was a big fan of the samgyetang here. In fact, he even tried to get them to pass the recipe to his chef so that he could have samgyetang at home! However, Tosokchon has a strong belief that only they can create the dish the way they want to, which is why they didn’t agree to pass on the recipe. This is also why they have not opened a second outlet or started a franchise business despite being so popular – they want to ensure that quality of food is maintained.

Other than samgyetang, many people also like the black chicken version. You may see some people order the roast chicken, but I really wouldn’t recommend it. If you want roast or fried chicken, there are better places to have them. You can try their seafood pancake (haemul pajeon) which is not bad.

The queue can get pretty long during meal times, so you might want to go slightly earlier before the usual meal times. However, since the place is big and the service is fast, don’t get deterred even if you see a queue. It is also one of those places where you have to remove your shoes and sit on the floor to eat, so don’t put on holey socks for the day.

The travelling couple blog Kampungboycitygal has also blogged about Tosokchon HERE, or you can also click HERE for more details about the samgeytang at Tosokchon.

Tosokchon Samgyetang
Hours: 10:00am to 22:00pm
Tel: +82-2-737-7444
5, Jahamun-ro 5-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
서울 종로구 자하문로5길 5 (체부동)

Subway: Gyeongbokgung Station,Exit 2.
Go straight about 170m and turn left onto Jahamun-ro 5-gil Road. Tosokchon (토속촌) is located 10m ahead on the left.

6. Jin Ok Hwa Dakhanmari (陳玉華一只雞)

Next up is still… chicken! Dak means chicken in Korean and Dakhanmari translates literally into one (whole) chicken; how imaginative!

This is the very first Dakhanmari restaurant and it opened its doors back in 1978. Thirty over years later, it continues to be a very much-loved restaurant by the locals, and increasingly, by foreigners too. It’s located at the Dongdaemun area, so you can pack shopping and dining here on the same day.

The restaurant uses only fresh young chickens which are about 35 days old. What people like about this dish is the minimal seasoning used. The whole idea is to let diners enjoy the tenderness of the meat and not be distracted by the seasoning. So it’s a case of you either love it A LOT, or you just find it bland. But hey, you can always add chilli (a very nice and very special marinade sauce) if you fall into the latter category.

I know of people who love it so much that they went back to eat this dish THREE times in the 10-odd days they were in Seoul. Personally, I do like how tender the chicken is, and I also love the rice-cakes and the kalguksu noodles (刀削麵)!

Click HERE and HERE for more details of Dakhanmari. And if you’re not sure how to get there, click HERE.

Jinokhwa Halmae Wonjo Dakhanmari (진옥화할매원조닭한마리)
Hours: 10:00am to 10:30pm
18, Jong-ro 40ga-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 종로구 종로40가길 18 (종로5가)

Subway: Dongdaemun Station, Exit 9.
Go straight 160m and turn left at the Industrial Bank of Korea (기업은행). Go straight 50m and turn onto the first side street to the right. Continue 100m straight until you see the restaurant.

Subway: Jongno 5-ga Station, Exit 6.
Turn left onto the first side street and walk 300m.

7. Yeolbong Andong Jjimdak

First things first, Yeolbong is the name of a particular chain of Andong Jjimdak restaurants in Korea; and it’s opened by a Kpop celebrity, SE7EN.

Andong is actually the name of a place, and it is also a special dish that originated from Andong. Jjim refers to the cooking method and ‘dak,’ as I’ve already mentioned, refers to chicken.

Andong chicken is easily one of my favourite dishes. It is a casserole dish of braised chicken with potatoes and glass noodles. The sauce is sweet and spicy – a very magical mix. I’m someone who can’t really take very spicy food, although I do love it. If you eat Andong Jjimdak at Yeolbong, you get to choose the spicy level. If you are like me, please just go for the lowest level. The second and third levels of spiciness can be quite lethal.

Yeolbong has several outlets, including one at Hongdae and one at Sinsa, but I personally prefer the one at Gangnam. I really think the food’s the best at the Gangnam branch. Click HERE to learn more about the dish. And you can also click HERE for detailed directions on how to get to the Yeolbong Gangnam branch.

Yeolbong Andong Jjimdak
Hours: 11:00am to 11:00pm
Tel: +82-2-3445-1012
817-8 Yeoksam-dong, Gangnam-gu
강남구역삼동 817-

Subway: Gangnam Station , Exit 11.

8. Myeongdong Gyoja

This is yet another favourite restaurant of mine. They have been around for a long time, and the two outlets are both in Myeongdong.

Myeongdong Gyoja is listed as one the top restaurants in Seoul. It is usually quite busy but because place is big and table turnaround is fast, so the wait is not too long. I like to go there at 11-ish for brunch, before the restaurant gets too crowded.

The menu is really simple (which I like!) with only three items, namely, the kalguksu (knife sliced noodles 刀削麵), the chilli cold noodles and the mandu (which is gyoja or what we call dumplings). The portion is quite big, so three people can share two mains.

What’s nice? Everything’s nice and I really love the kimchi here.

Incidentally, THIS BLOGGGER seems to have very similar taste buds as me because we seem to always end up liking the same food and restaurants. She likes the same GRILLED CHICKEN SKEWER AT EDAE! So spicy but so shiiiiiok!

She basically has said everything I would have to say about eating at Myeongdong Gyoja, so you can go read her blog post HERE. She also gave very clear directions on how to get there.

Myeongdong Gyoja
Hours: 10:30am to 9.30pm

Main store (Myeongdong)
25-2 Myeongdong 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu
서울특별시 중구 명동2가 25-2 ‎

Myeongdong Branch
33-4, Myeongdong 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu
서울특별시 중구 명동2가 33-4

9. Bonjuk Porridge, Myeongdong

You might be familiar with this porridge chain if you’re a K-drama fan and have watched Boys Over Flowers. More important than that, this Bonjuk (本粥) porridge concept is actually part of the whole SLOW FOOD philosophy which I endorse! I think in this Internet age, too much of ‘ppali ppali‘ is not necessarily good for us! Sometimes, we really need to slow down and take in the simple beauty of life.

Anyway, this porridge chain is quite big in Korea or at least I see quite a lot of it in Seoul, so it shouldn’t be hard for you to chance upon it. Since most of you will definitely spend time in Myeongdong, I’ll just ‘show’ you where the Myeongdong branch is.

On a cold winter day or on days when you just don’t have much appetite, Bonjuk is a great choice. It is healthy and nutritious too. Many people recommend the pumpkin porridge, but I personally like the oyster and also the seafood – I love seafood! The portion’s quite big, so you might want to share. If there are two of you, you can order one porridge, and if there are three of you, you can order two. Strangely, some outlets don’t let you order two if there are four of you. In that case, just sit separately or order takeaway!

Bonjuk Porridge
Tel: +82-2-755-3562
65-2 Chungmuro2-ga, Jung-gu,Seoul,South Korea
서올시 중구 충무로2가 65-2번지 2충

Subway: Myeongdong Station, Exit 6
Come out from Exit 6, turn left and then turn right at the first turn. Bonjuk is on level 2, opposite Starbucks.

10. Myeongdong Eomeonijip Seafood Stew, Myeongdong

There is a narrow alley in the midst of the Myeongdong shopping area where you can find some seafood restaurants. There’s one that I’d eaten at a few times, without knowing that it is quite famous.

Myeongdong Eomeonijip (translates into Mother’s House) is a haemultang (seafood stew) restaurant with 40 years’ history. If you like seafood stew, this is the place to check out. It is not cheap though – I can’t quite remember how much, but I think a meal will cost about SGD50 or so.

Let me say again that as much as I like spicy food, I can’t really take spicy food. However, I still couldn’t resist wolfing this down!

Eomeonijip Seafood Stew
Tel: +82-2-776-3896
11-6, Myeongdong 8-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul

Seafood Soup Alley @ Myeongdong
Walk down the alley between Esquire Shoe Store and Spris from the main street, and you can see the seafood soup restaurants clustered in this narrow lane.

11. Two-Two Chicken, Myeongdong

Did you know that some Koreans like to have three-stop dinner rounds? They usually start at a BBQ restaurant, move on to either a KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) outlet or makgeolli bar, and then to karaoke or maybe a POJANGMACHA.

Checking out the Two-Two Chicken at Myeongdong after some very intense shopping would be fabulous! You can check out photos of this outlet HERE. Truth be told, KFC has never meant the same to me ever since I was introduced to CHIMAEK!

Also read: The Chick List: 10 Droolworthy Asian Fried Chicken Dishes

And of course, the chimaek fever really hit the roof because of the drama MY LOVE FROM THE STAR.

Since my friends and I tend to stay at the Myeongdong area, we always pack chicken back to eat in our room and chat the night away. Heart-to-heart talk with girlfriends with chimaek is the bomb!

Actually, I love KYOCHON KFC even more, but the Kyochon outlets don’t seem to pop up within my line of sight conveniently enough. If you are lucky enough to come across a Kyochon, don’t hesitate to tuck in!

Two-Two KFC, Myeongdong
Tel: +82-2-2275-2297
Hours: 12:00pm to 02:00am
6-4 Namsandong 2(i)-Ga, Jung-gu

Subway: Myeongdong Station, Exit 3 (or just go up the escalator), then walk into the street at the left of Pacific Hotel. Follow the smell (haha!).

12. Soy Crab (Ganjang Gejang Alley), Sinsa

Finally it’s time to talk about one of my absolute favourite food in Korea: the soy crab! Ganjang Gejang is marinated raw crabs with lots of roe.

My Korean friend told me that there are some Koreans who can’t take soy crab because it’s too raw for them, but those who love them really love them to bits. For me, it was love at first bite! I don’t actually this incident, but my friend Emz told me that the first words to come out of my mouth after sinking my teeth into the crab for the first time were: OH MY EFFING GOD!

You can read more about what soy crab is all about and how to eat it HERE. I’ve also heard and read that Pro Soy Crab is supposedly the best, or at least amongst the best. Check out the history HERE, and click HERE for address and directions. I understand that Pro Soy Crab is open 24/7.

Also read: Seoul: Shopping Guide For Bargain Hunters

There’s actually a Ganjang Gejang alley in Sinsa-dong. It is so unthinkable that an area so chic has an alley selling this very strong-flavoured dish! I guess that’s the beauty of Seoul.

This outlet was the one I’d been to – it’s called Masan and it is open 24 hours. Masan also has a long history. It’s pretty much the first soy crab restaurant at the beginning of the alley. It’s among one of the biggest there, and also one of the most patronised. They also have Mandarin-speaking staff in case you need help with the ordering.

Directions: Take subway line 3 to Sinsa Station and go out exit 4. Walk straight for about 20 metres and take a right. Walk for about 80 meters and you should see the beginning of Ganjang Gejang Alley.

13. Kimbap Cheonguk

Some of you might thank me for this. Kimbap Cheonguk is a local chain of 24-hours eatery that you can find at practically every suburb in Seoul. I had blogged about it very briefly HERE.

Do yourself a favour and try and remember how the logo looks like. There’s one in Myeongdong, one in Anguk, one in Hyehw and more.

For days when you don’t know what to eat, for days when your group of travel companions can’t agree on where to eat, for days when you just feel like having some hearty Korean food, Kimbap Cheonguk is the answer. Their menu is extensive and prices quite reasonable: each main is below SGD10.

For days when you’re broke, just head up to Kimbap Cheonguk and grab some kimbap. If you don’t know what is kimbap, I guess you really don’t know much about Korean food! Kimbap refers to those seaweed rice rolls (or what some people call Korean sushi). Kimbap Cheonguk actually means seaweed rice (roll) heaven. Kim is seaweed and bap is rice. Cheon is sky, and guk is country or nation, so cheonguk is actually 天國 in Chinese.

I like the tuna kimbap (cham-chi kim-bap) here, and I also like a whole host of other dishes here too! Like the spicy beancurd stew (soondubu chigae), the cheese ramyeon, the spicy beef soup (yukgaejang), the omelette rice, etc.

Never tried cheese ramyeon? It’s not as weird as it sounds and it actually tastes nice! On a cool or even cold day, the piping hot cheese ramyeon is a great choice!

Also read: How to Eat Your Ramen Like A Pro

Kimbap Cheonguk have an English menu, so don’t worry about worrying. Also, the water and banchan (side dishes) are on self-service mode here.

I’ll just tell you how to get to the Myeongdong outlet since it’s quite easy to get to.

Subway: Myeongdong Station, Exit 2 or 3 (or just go up the escalator), then walk into the street at the right of Pacific Hotel. Kimbap Cheonguk is very near Macdonalds.

This post is already so long and I’m still not done yet! I’ll split this into two parts and you can check back soon for my next part.

Also read: Seoul: Korean Culture at its Peak

You should never leave Seoul without dining in these fantastic restaurants!

Contributed by happieBB

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HappieBB

BB is a dreamer who cannot write an interesting bio to save her life. She's also a fan of Korean variety shows and the double combo, GD&TOP. Friends know her as a lifetime member of the "Not-A-Morning-Person" club.

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