Top 5 Famous Restaurants in Korea You Should Visit
The culinary landscape of Korea is as rich as it is diverse. It is explosively flavorful, with unique textures, tastes, and ingredients that leave you asking for more.
It appeals to even the most discerning palates. While there are items that are an acquired taste, this tourist hotspot balances them with food joints offering dishes that are comfortably familiar.
But where should you start your culinary journey? Read on to discover my expert suggestions for famous restaurants in Korea that are loved by visitors worldwide.
The Most Famous Restaurants in Korea You Must Visit on Your Next Trip
Looking for a lip-smackingly good eating experience? Check out these Korean restaurants:
Location: 2F, 176 Sinbanpo-ro, Seocho-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Located in the JW Marriott Hotel, this buffet restaurant invites you to embark on an unforgettable gourmet experience—one you’ll actively look for every time you happen to be in Seoul. Choose from a diverse range of made-to-order dishes prepared at live cooking stations.
And let’s not forget the customer service!
It exceeds all expectations, with servers offering indispensable tips that help you savor their culinary delights for all their worth. They’ll even teach you how to eat certain foods the in Korean way. So, it’s no wonder Flavors reigns supreme in the Seoul food chain!
Factor in unforgettable drink pairings, and you’ve got a slice of heaven on Earth.
Location: 23, Gangnam-daero 124-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul 06114 South Korea
This cocktail bar will blow your mind. That’s a promise.
It’s located in the heart of Korea, and not on the 14th floor of some luxurious building. Rather, it’s conveniently situated in a traditional market, luring shoppers with the promise of a brief respite with delicious traditional Korean cocktails.
Jangseng Geongangwon sources all the ingredients for their exceptional cocktails with new flavors from neighboring merchants. The level of service is perfect and you get Korean cultural snacks to binge on as you enjoy. One guest described it as “a heightened experience that should not be missed.”
Jangseng Geongangwon has become so well-known that it was featured in Netflix’s Midnight in Asia. Come for the hype but stay for its fantastic atmosphere and one-of-a-kind drinks.
Location: 22-76 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
This “Modern Mediterranean Escape” combines the classic with the contemporary, providing a dining experience that’s truly one for the books.
The new menu at this award-winning restaurant was inspired by the diverse cultures of Greece, Italy, Morocco, France, and Turkey. Think of all the flavor combinations it has in store for you! Pair the dishes with a signature cocktail (or two). You can enjoy it in the warm setting of one of the lounges or with a rather Pinterest-y view of Seoul with all its luxurious buildings from the Privilege Rooftop Bar.
Does that sound too fancy for you?
Well, Cleo has Happy Hour Delights where you can give in to your instincts and gorge on dishes like chicken, pizza, salad, pasta, and French fries.
Don’t forget to wash it down with a refreshing draft beer!
Location: 28, Nonhyeon-ro 176-gil, Gangnam-gu Sinsadong, Seoul 06022 South Korea
This popular restaurant brings a delectable piece of India to Korea, giving patrons an opportunity to enjoy the delicacies and impeccable tastes of the cuisine without leaving town. It is the picture of inclusivity, with food choices that accommodate vegetarians, vegans, and even those on a gluten-free or halal diet.
Find delight in the symphony of flavors in dishes spanning from naan to tandoori chicken in a pleasant atmosphere that’s beautifully designed to make you feel at home.
I have to admit, the top-notch hospitality is the cherry on top! And don’t even get me started on the amazing Bollywood music playing in the background. You’ll feel as if you’ve stepped on a movie set where you’re the main character.
Check out their full menu here.
Location: 48 Noksapyeong-daero 40-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Serving vibrant and diverse “Bangkok-style” Thai food with vegetarian-friendly, vegan, and gluten-free options available, this boutique takeout restaurant is THE place to go for authentic flavors that create a dance party on your tongue.
The whole experience is customized. Chefs here will gladly adjust the spice levels to your liking. The service you get is fantastic and the courses are reasonably priced. There is a good view too, making it perfect for date night.
However, there is a flaw. There are just too many menus, with offerings from slightly sweet and spicy Penang curry to the flavor-infused chicken satay to crisp, crunchy green papaya salad with a perfect harmony of flavors. It’s difficult to stay long enough to try them all!
It has three locations: at the foot of the Gyeongridan, Itaewon, and the Famille Station.
Location: 11 Seolleung-ro 158-gil, Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
This groundbreaking two-Michelin-starred restaurant will live long in your memory.
It’s managed by Chef Jungsik Dang, the pioneer of modern Korean fine dining. He uses traditional and familiar ingredients to reinvent contemporary cuisine with westward techniques and flavors. The result—in the very words of The Michelin Guide—is “original, impeccably executed and enormously satisfying.”
Tantalize your taste buds with Hanwoo Galbi—a sweet and robust beefy taste, elevated with a melt-in-a-mouth texture, Song-I Mandoo—hand-mixed and hand-wrapped Korean dumplings, and caviar—a slightly salty Oceanic delight. Wrap everything up with a drink from the many international labels in its roster. Yum.
Factor in impeccable service and a gorgeous ambiance, and it’s easy to see why this dining establishment makes a regular appearance on Asia’s 50 Best list!
Why is Korean Food So Famous?
Salty, sweet, sour, and spicy—Korean food tosses together these popular flavors, creating a delicious symphony in your mouth. It’s popular for creating a myriad of flavor combinations with different spices, sauces, and ingredients you never expected would go together. It appeals to the senses, but it does so without losing sight of what matters most: health. Many Korean delicacies, like kimchi (or fermented cabbage), are vegetable-based.
Just pay a visit to Seoul Bowl, one of the country’s most famous restaurants to see what I mean.
Hence, Koreans commonly use the following techniques to prepare food:
These preparation methods enhance the flavors of food.
Interesting fact: Did you know that regularly consuming fermented food can improve metabolism and enhance immunity? Other than veggies, meat and seafood are widely used. So, it’s no wonder that obesity rates in Korea are among the lowest!
A trip to Korea promises flavorful food like banchan, kimbap, and bibimbap which reflect different cultural trends while remaining delightfully healthy.
Restaurants vs. Market Foods
Contemplating whether to eat in or out? Consider these factors to make a more informed decision.
Based on information from Numbeo, the average price of a three-course meal for two people at a mid-range restaurant in Seoul can put you out by 61,061.08 ₩ or $46.75.
If you’re trying to make your budget last for as long as possible, I recommend going to the market.
Of course, you can have a decent meal at an inexpensive restaurant for 10,000.00 ₩ or $7.65. But, if you’re looking for an authentic experience at a price that won’t break the bank, street food is your best bet, costing 3,000 to 5,000 ₩ (around $3 to $5) on average.
Many restaurants offer a variety of dishes from diverse cultures, so you’re guaranteed to find something you’ll love even if you’re a picky eater. Plus, the food portions tend to be very generous and you always get multiple side dishes at no extra cost.
That said, if you’re visiting Korea mainly because of the food, options from the local markets won’t disappoint. They offer a range of traditional dishes that scream Korea. Some markets (read: Tongin) even allow you to fill a lunch box with snacks to go.
Korea has a lot of restaurants, so you’ll easily find one as soon as you step foot in the country. The best ones, however, are in popular neighborhoods and cities like Seoul and Gyeongju, boasting unique dining experiences that cost a pretty penny.
On the other hand, markets are located in chaotic yet charming atmospheres.
Most of them are open year-round and are easy to access via the country’s impressive transportation system. Even if you’re a restaurant-only person, I highly recommend visiting these popular street markets. They’ll surprise you at every turn with oriental medicine, skincare, jewelry, clothes, and more at pocket-friendly prices. If you’re lucky, you might hit the jackpot by discovering sightseeing attractions and landmarks during one of your outings.
These famous restaurants in Korea will expand your palate—and your worldview with it. As you taste different dishes, you’ll discover the history and significance of the ingredients that go into making them. So, what do you think? Is it time to start thinking about visa requirements and planning a trip? I certainly think so.
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