When trying Korean food while in South Korea, why not go to the region where they make it the best? The diversity of food in Korea is what attracts so many tourists to visit South Korea. However, many might not know where to find the best of the best. South Korea is not a large country, so you can make a day trip to many of these regions to try the Korean food they are known for. Therefore we have gathered the ten best Korean regional cuisines to try when visiting Korea.
Jeonju – Bibimbap
Bibimbap is one of the most famous dishes in South Korea. It is served in a bowl with warm white rice, sauteed and seasoned vegetables, egg, and ground meat. Then you mix it all together with gochujang (Korean chili pepper paste). It is very customizable, but the most popular type of Bibimbap is Jeonju Bibimbap. Jeonju is the name of the province in South Korea, and when visiting Jeonju, you must try the bibimbap there. It is topped with Jeonju soybean sprouts, hwangpo-muk, jeopjang, and reasoned raw beef and served with kongnamul-gukbap. The rice they use to make Jeonju bibimbap is cooked in beef shank broth and finished with shiteme oil.
Chuncheon – DakGalbi
DakGalbi is very famous in Korea. It is pan-fried chicken marinated in gochujang, cabbage, and sweet potatoes. The best place to eat DakGalbi is in Chuncheon, the capital of Gangwon province. It is located in the north of South Korea and featured in the famous Korean drama Winter Sonata. They are known for their chicken farming which is why it is the best region for Dalgalbi in Korea. They have a whole street in the city solely dedicated to serving DakGalbi so you rarely have to wait in line. There are an estimated 25 Dakgalbi restaurants on the famous street.
Jeju – HukDaegi
Jeju is not just known for its amazing beaches in Korea. The island also has the best pork meat in South Korea. HukDaegi means “Black Pig.” It can only be found on the island of Jeju. It is a small pig with black skin. HukDaegi has a unique taste since it is smoked over burning hay. It is a bit chewier than regular Korean pork. When visiting Jeju, we recommend you try HukDaegi in various ways, from grilling to steam cooking.
Busan – Daeji Gukbap
Daeji Gukbap is a popular South Korean soup made of pork, soy sauce, rice wine, miso, and bone broth. It is one of those Korean regional cuisines that are great for those who are hungover. Daeji Gukbap was created during the Korean war but became very popular in Busan. It is difficult to make at home as it requires the pork bones to be boiled for a long time to create that milky-white broth. This is why people simply go to Daeji Gukbap restaurants. The average price is 10,000 won, and you will find many restaurants in Busan near their famous beach Haeundae.
Myeongdong – Kalguksu
You can’t talk about Korean regional cuisines without talking about Myeongdong Kalguksu. Myeongdong is not only one of the best places for shopping in Seoul but is also famous for its food. Their most famous food has to be Kalguksu. The noodles are hand-cut with a knife, so they are thin flat shaped. It is usually eaten with mandu (Korean dumplings) and garlicky spicy Kimchi. The best restaurant in Myeongdong for Kalguksu is Myeongdong Gyoja. There are only three menu options, with Kalguksu being the most popular dish. The only issue is that you will have to wait during peak lunch and dinner times.
Suwon – Wang Galbi
Suwon is the place to go in Korea to get good Galbi. Galbi is a marinated beef short rib, one of the most popular meats for Korean BBQ. They specialize in a galbi called Wang Galbi which has bone-in English cut. It is usually cooked over charcoal. Most of the best Wang Galbi restaurants are in Suwon, so we highly recommend you make the trip there. If not, check out some of the top Michelin-star restaurants in Seoul for great galbi.
Daegu – Makchang
For those that have never heard of Makchang, it is the stomach part of a cow. It is grilled and served with a light doenjang sauce and chopped scallions. Makchang is known to absorb alcohol very well, which is why it is a popular side dish when drinking soju. It is very high in fat, protein, and calcium. When visiting Daegu, it is highly recommended you go to a Makchang restaurant. However, just a warning, it is not for everyone. It is very greasy and fatty and should not be eaten as a full meal.
Andong – JjimDak
JjimDak is a Korean steamed chicken that is marinated in a ganjang-based sauce. It is popular among students, and the working class as the portions are huge. In addition, it is high in protein. Andong is the capital of North Gyeongsang Province. They are known for their steamed chicken and are considered a healthier option than western fried chicken restaurants. While visiting Andong might be difficult, they sell Andong-style JjimDak in Seoul. However, to get the best JjimDak, you must travel to Andong. While you are there, check out their Soju, one of the more popular Sojus in Korea.
Sokcho – Dakgangjeong
Sokcho is located on the northeast side of Korea called Gangwon Province. It is about a 3 hours drive from Seoul and is famous for its Dakgangjeong. Dakgangjeong is a type of Korean fried chicken cut into bite-size pieces. It is deep-fried in oil and braised in a spicy sauce. There are no bones and are sometimes sprinkled with nuts. We recommend you check out Jungang Market, one of the best open markets in Korea, and try Dakgangjeon there. There will be many Dakgangjeon stalls, and you can eat it on the go.
Give Us Your Recommendation!
Did we leave anything out? Give us your recommendation of Korean regional cuisines we should look into!
Check out our article on the Best Open Street Markets in Korea.