South Korea is known for its technology and innovation, however, its food is one of the best-kept secrets in the world. While many might know about Korean BBQ, there is so much more beyond that. Most don’t fully know what Korean food really is until they actually visit Korea. From meat grilled at your table to boiling hot stews, Korean food is one of the most underrated international foods in the world. Therefore, if you are planning a trip to South Korea or your local Koreatown, here are the top 10 Best Korean Foods of all time that you must try before you die.
Galbi is Korean grilled beef short ribs. What makes it so good is the marinade. Make sure you get Beef Galbi which is the best meat for Korean BBQ. The Galbi ribs are butterflied 2 to 3 times using a knife. This is not easy to do and is usually only done by Korean chefs at restaurants who have special butcher skills. South Korea offers chicken galbi which is a lot cheaper, but we suggest you go for the beef galbi which should cost between 20,000 to 30,000 won per person. In addition, there is also LA Galbi which is just as delicious. Ask any Korean and a vast majority will say when it comes to the best Korean foods of all time, Galbi is at the top.
A cheaper but just as delicious alternative to Galbi if you want Korean BBQ is Samyeopsal. Samyeopsal is grilled pork belly strips you cook at your table. It is by far the most popular Korean BBQ in Korea. These thinly sliced pork belly can be found in any Korean market. The thickness can vary depending on your preference. Furthermore, there is no need for seasoning or marinating. Once the strips are cooked it is sliced into bite-size pieces. It is highly recommended to cook Samgyeopsal with mushrooms, onion, garlic, and even Kimchi. Wrap it in lettuce and make sure to put in kimchi and other vegetables with rice. By far one of the best Korean foods when it comes to price.
Samgyetang is a ginseng chicken soup, and it is a prevalent food in Korea for promoting stamina and for its health benefits. Many Koreans believe that Samgyetang is good for restoring energy which is why it is a great dish for those with hangovers. Therefore, it is very popular during the hottest days of the Summer in Korea which is around mid-July. The taste might be a bit bland for some westerners but you can always add salt to the taste. Overall it is very light, healthy, and has a lot of nutritious benefits. The rice is actually inside the chicken! The price is very reasonable ranging from 10,000 to 15,000 won.
The best Korean summer food is by far Mul Naengmyeon. It is cold noodles in an icy cold beef broth. It has a sweet yet tangy taste and is usually made with buckwheat noodles. In the Mul Naengmyeon, you will find some strips of beef, boiled egg, white radish, and cucumber. It is very difficult to make at home because you will need to make the beef broth ahead of time around 2-3 days. Finally, when eating Mul Naengmyeon you will need to add mustard and vinegar to taste. It goes perfectly with our #1 Korean food galbi! You will need to add wasabi mustard and vinegar to taste which can be a bit tricky. We suggest you do 2-3 splashes (2-3 teaspoons) of both and adjust to taste.
Tteokbokki is one of the best Korean street foods in Korea. While there are many places that sell Tteokbokki, they all pretty much taste the same. It is made with Korean rice cakes, Korean fish cakes, Korean soup stock, and Korean chili paste. It is one of the easiest foods to make at home but because it is so cheap and sold almost anywhere in Korea, most just buy it rather than cook it. However, the sauce is what makes it special. It has a combination of sweetness and spiciness that makes it a guilty pleasure for many Koreans. The spiciness can range from mild to super spicy so be careful!
A very popular Korean dish is Bibimbap. It is a bowl of rice that is filled with sauteed and seasoned vegetables, a hot pepper paste, seasoned beef (sometimes raw beef), fried egg, and sesame oil. Before you eat the dish you will need to mix everything together. Some restaurants offer bibimbap served in a heated stone. This is called dolsot bibimbap. In addition, the bowl itself makes the bottom layer of rice very crispy! Some bibimbap does not come with seasoned beef which in our opinion is what makes it delicious, so make sure you ask if it comes with beef before ordering.
When talking about the best Korean foods, you have to include Kimchi Jigae (Kimchi Stew). It is by far the most popular stew because Koreans love kimchi. Every home has kimchi which means every Korean can make their own style of kimchi stew. It is a staple food in most Korean meals. Furthermore, at most Korean BBQ restaurants, Kimchi Jjigae will also be offered. The best Kimchi Stew is made with fermented Kimchi, onions, tofu, fatty pork meat, and spicy chili paste. You can even make Kimchi Stew with SPAM!
Don’t even think about making Bossam at home. Therefore, Bossam should be tried at a Bossam restaurant. It is slices of very flavorful pork that is boiled. Therefore it is very tender. Think of it like a boiled version of Samgyupsal. You eat it wrapped in cabbage with Ssamjang or shrimp sauce. The shrimp sauce not only goes well with Bossam but it helps digest it. You can wrap it in lettuce just like Samgyeopsal.
Many might not consider Jajangmyeon a Korean dish. They are half correct. It is a very popular Korean-Chinese dish. Jajangmyeon is black bean sauce over noodles. It is made from a black bean paste called Chun Jang. It was brought to Korea by early Chinese immigrants in Korea. Now it is stable of Korean food culture. Many Koreans eat Jajangmyeon on special occasions and could be the most popular Korean food that is delivered to homes. In addition, there is even a Jajangmyeon day called Black Day (April 14th) where single people eat it with their friends.
Chimaek is basically Korean fried chicken with beer. It is the most popular food for after-work get-togethers. Therefore, there are so many great chains in South Korea that offer great Korean fried chicken. Currently, there are over 40,000 fried chicken places in South Korea. It is one of the most popular food combos in Korea at sporting events. In addition, what makes Korean fried chicken so delicious is that it is cooked twice (double fried) and is covered with a thick/tangy sauce. Korean beer goes perfectly with the chicken because it a more watered-down version of the western beer.