Korean food is delicious. This cannot be debated. After traveling for 2 weeks in Korea, where I am researching and writing exclusive Korea travel articles for email subscribers, I have had amazing opportunities to taste this first hand.
Although there are many delicious foods in Korea and I haven’t had a chance to try them all, I will list some of the tastiest, most interesting, and strangest foods from different places across the country.
Pajeon (Korean pancakes) on Pajeon Street in Seoul
Korean pancakes are a popular food in Korean restaurants, but until you have tried the ones on Pajeon Street in Seoul, you haven’t tried pajeon. Thick and crispy, the squid and green onion pancakes at Nagseo Pajeon (낙서 파전) were unlike ordinary pajeon.
Nags Pajeon is located on an alleyway with many other pajeon restaurants off of Hoegi Station, called Hoegi Station Pajeon Alley (at Hoegi Ro 28 gil). According signage on the street, pajeon restaurants began sprouting up there in the 1970’s because Kyunghee University students wanted cheap and filling places to eat.
While pajeon refers specifically to pancakes with green onions, there are other kinds of jeon, and other kinds of featured ingredients in pajeon as well. It is traditionally consumed with the Korean fermented wine makgeolli, which is drank in a bowl.
Sannakji (“Live” octopus) in Gwangjang Market
The strips of octopus writhe as you eat it. It is a challenge to grab the freshest bites with your chopsticks, as it keeps trying to wiggle away, and then it keeps moving in your mouth. In fact, sannakji is not always served alive. Sometimes it is cut up right before it is served, but the pieces will still be moving on reflex. I ate my sannakji mixed with steak tartare at the first tartare (육회-yukhoe) restaurant ever opened in Gwangjang Market.
Jamaejib (자매집) was opened in the Gwangjang Market in the 1970’s by two sisters, and today it remains cozy and popular, though the whole alley is lined with yukhoe restaurants now. Wait time was about 10 minutes. After yukhoe, we headed to Jeon Alley to try out different kinds of pancakes, such as nokdu (pancakes made with mung beans) and gamjami neon (halibut) at a restaurant that Tim Burton once ate at (judging by the photo on the wall.
Bibimbap (and dolsat bibimbap) is one of the most basic and well-known dishes in Korea, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not delicious. Always reliable and available almost everywhere, it’s the first thing I tried in Korea.
Silkworm Larvae in Busan
Korea’s second largest city, Busan, is a great place to try seafood. Dishes like murhue (물회), which is a kind of sashimi soup, and snacks like fish cakes are popular here. But there’s also nothing like simple bbq seafood like garibigu (scallops) over a fire. The scallops were delicious, but most notable was one of the banchan that came before the scallops: silkworm larvae! While I didn’t particularly enjoy the flavor and texture, I did eat enough to get a sense, and I was glad I tried them.
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