I’m not sure if it is a well-known fact, but Korea has a really great variety of seriously delicious food. The most commonly thought of foods from Korea are likely kimchi and Korean barbecue, but there is oh, so much more.
Lets start with something basic: banchan. Banchan are the side dishes found with traditional korean food. Depending on where you go and what you order, you can get the most basic ones, cabbage kimchi and pickled korean radish, or you can get a huge variety of sides, as seen in the picture. Part of the fun of eating in Korea is I never really know what I’m consuming!
Now moving on to jjimdak. I’ve never actually had traditional jjimdak, but instead a more modern take on it, at a popular chain restaurant. You can order it with or without cheese (I prefer without, Korean cheese isn’t my favorite thing), add noodles, dumplings, etc. and adjust the spiciness. It’s definitely one of my favorite meals.
Ramen/ramyeon is very common in Korea, often with rice cakes or dumplings in it. It isn’t as insanely delicious as I hear it is in Japan, but it’s a cheap, filling meal. I’ve definitely gotten a lot better at eating it without splashing myself, which is always good.
Now onto a super basic but very tasty dish… jeiyukdopbap, or spicy marinated pork. There isn’t too much to tell about this, other than YUM. I absolutely love this dish, it’s generally pretty cheap and very filling, and seriously just so tasty.
This snack/meal here was one of the most confusing things for me in the beginning of my exchange. It looks like sushi, but it’s not. It’s kimbap! Kind of like a sushi roll, but not necessarily with fish. Usually carrots (and other veggies, sorry I’m bad at paying attention to what I’m eating!), scrambled egg, and oftentimes some kind of meat or tuna salad type of thing. They’re cheap and depending on where you get them can be super tasty or just a way to fill your stomach.
Ttoekbokki!! This is a more ‘gourmet’ take on the traditional street food version, and oh man is it good (and fairly cheap!). Ttoek (soft rice cakes) in spicy sauce with whatever add-ins you want, including sea food, bulgogi (beef), veggies, cheese, noodles, dumplings, etc. Super yum!
What is this pile of saucy goodness, you may ask? Why, it’s KFC! That’s right, Korean fried chicken. It differs from American fried chicken in that it is double fried, so it is crispier and less greasy. It’s a bit more expensive than other meal options, but getting chimek (chicken + mekju (beer)) every now and then is a nice treat.
As I was writing this I realized it was getting really long, so I’m making this a part one, part two deal so it isn’t too overwhelming. Stay tuned for part two. Much love from Korea!