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 go 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 10 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 chicken that is pan-fried and marinated in gochujang, cabbage, and sweet potatoes. The best place to eat DakGalbi is in Chuncheon which is the capital of Gangwon province. It is located in the north of South Korea and was featured in the famous Korean drama called 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 that is solely dedicated to serving DakGalbi so you will 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 is also known for having the best pork meat in all of 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 all kinds of ways from grilling to steam cooked.
Busan – Daeji Gukbap
Daeji Gukbap is a popular South Korean soup that is 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 very difficult to make at home as it requires the pork bones to be boiled for a long time in order 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 including 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 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 along with mandu (Korean dumplings) and garlicky spicy Kimchi. The best restaurant in Myeongdong for Kalguksu is Myeongdong Gyoja. There are only 3 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 really good Galbi. Galbi is marinated beef short rib that is 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 located in Suwon so we highly recommend you make the trip down there.
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 is seen as a healthier option to western fried chicken restaurants. While it might be difficult to visit Andong, they do sell Andong-style JjimDak in Seoul. However, to get the best JjimDak you will need to travel to Andong. While you are there also check out their Soju which is one of the more popular Sojus in all of 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 that is cut into bite-size pieces. It is deep-fried in oil and braised in a spicy sauce. There are no bones and is 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 best of all you can eat it on the go.
Check out our article on the Best Open Street Markets in Korea.