Back in April 2023 was my first time to Korea and I loved it so much, I can't wait to go back for more. Some people travel for the sightseeing aspect of things (that's a bonus), I travel for food...a trip anywhere is not complete unless it's filled with good food.
Here are my 10 restaurants in Seoul worth eating at:
Jinmi Sikdang [진미식당]
Address: 186-6 Mapo-daero, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opening hours: Monday - Saturday (12:00pm - 3:30pm, 5:00pm - 8:00pm), Sunday (closed)
Ganjang gejang – Raw Crab Marinated in Soy Sauce
This dish is something that I crave for on a regular basis and after a fair amount of research, I chose Jinmi Sikdang based on the reviews and it’s also on the Michelin Bib Gourmand list (since 2017).
Lo and behold, Sean's friend made a reservation here for lunch with us without even knowing that it was on my “eat list”, it was really meant to be.
Jinmi Sikdang has been serving up ganjang gejang for over a decade and it’s the only thing that is on their menu.
I may not be a ganjang gejang connoisseur, but this is one of the best that I have ever eaten. The subtle flavour of the raw crab infused with the marinade was amazingly good, it was not salty, and the crab was bursting with lots of flesh and roe.
They call this dish a “rice thief” and rightly so because it tasted so good with rice especially when you put some of the rice into the crab shell with the innards, mix it all up and gobble it all down, so so good.
This is the first meal in Korea that put me in a food coma, I needed a little afternoon siesta.
If you are in Seoul, I highly recommend coming to Jinmi Sikdang for their ganjang gejang.
Buchon Yukhoe [부촌육회 본점]
Address: 200-12 종로, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea (located within Gwangjang Market)
Opening hours: Monday - Friday (10:00am - 4:00pm, 5:00pm - 9:30pm), Saturday - Sunday (10:00am - 9:30pm)
Tucked away in an alley at Gwangjang Market is this little gem of a restaurant, Buchon Yukhoe that has been operating since 1965. They specialise in yukhoe, what is yukhoe?
Yukhoe is the Korean version of what most people know as beef tartare. The yukhoe at Buchon Yukhoe is made with high quality beef that is sliced very thinly and is marinated in a mixture of sesame oil, garlic, sugar, salt and other spices.
They say you either love it or you hate it. I personally love a good raw beef dish especially when it’s made with good quality ingredients. And at Buchon Yukhoe, locally sourced beef is delivered to the restaurant every morning, so you know you are getting it super fresh.
We ordered both the yukhoe and yukhoe bibimbap which was recommended and had no regrets, it was delicious. I was tempted to try the yukhoe with chopped live octopus but…I am not very brave, maybe next time.
Buchon Yukhoe has been awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand; they have been awarded one since 2017, you can see all the awards lined up in the restaurant.
Address: 34 Jong-ro 35-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opening hours: Monday - Saturday (10:00am - 9:40pm), Sunday (closed)
Yukhoe – beef tartare | Yukhoe Bibimbap – mixed rice with beef tartare | Chadolbaegi – thinly shaved beef brisket | Doenjang-jjigae – soybean paste stew
This place has been around for over 40 years, there are two shop lots and reservations is a must as both places always get booked out. Our reservation was at 6:00pm and it was already a full house. A must order here are the beef brisket and the beef tartare together, where it’s highly recommended to wrap the tartare in the brisket.
The yukhoe was thinly sliced paired with the pear; it was cold and crunchy, combined with a well-balanced marinade (it’s on the sweeter side) and the beautiful yolk…I could not ask for a better dish. A first for me but wrapping the yukhoe in cooked brisket was a winner for me, hot and cold, savoury and sweet, delicious.
I also recommend ordering the yukhoe bibimbap; they were really generous with the yukhoe which you don’t get at a lot of restaurants. I would even say this place taste better than Buchon Yukhoe at Gwanjang Market.
The only reason I know about this place is because Tzuyang did a mukbang here and what she ate had me salivating.
A restaurant with good food will always have people coming back for more and this is one of those places for me.
Geumseonggwan Naju Gomtang [금성관나주곰탕]
Address: 29 Namdaemun-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opening hours: Monday - Friday (7:00am - 10:00pm), Saturday - Sunday (8:00am - 9:00pm)
Gomtang – beef bone soup | Galbitang – beef short ribs soup
I would choose a good tang over guksu any day. Nothing against noodles but I have always been more of a rice bucket. Here at Geumseonggwan Naju Gomtang, extra rice is free, you just have to help yourself to it (self-service).
I love both the gomtang and galbitang here; the broth was beefy and moreish and it tasted so good with the rice.
On the table, you also get unlimted kimchi and kkakdugi which you grab out of the metal containers. These were probably my top two favourite banchan on the trip. I loved their kimchi and kkakdugi so much that I came back here to eat the day before we flew back home.
If you come during lunchtime from 11:00am – 2:00pm, you get to enjoy unlimited dongdongju (slightly fermented rice wine that is not filtered).
Tosokchon Samgyetang [토속촌 삼계탕]
Address: 5 Jahamun-ro 5-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opening hours: Monday - Sunday (10:00am - 9:00pm)
If you are planning to visit Gyeongbokgung Palace, Tosokchon Samgyetang will be the perfect spot for breakfast or lunch as it’s walking distance from the palace.
Here you can get both the black and white samgyetang, I went for the black one because I can. The ginseng chicken soup was very flavourful and full of collagen, the meat was really tender and it fell off the bone easily.
The kimchi here was really good too, very addictive and pairs really well with the samgyetang.
Hanam Pig [하남돼지집 명동1호점]
Address: 12 Myeongdong 9ga-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opening hours: Monday - Sunday (11:30am - 12:00am)
It's not a trip to Korea unless you indulge in K-BBQ, and I had to come here. Yes, there are plenty of other K-BBQ places around, but Hanam Pig holds a special place in my heart, thanks to the Korean drama, Hospital Playlist (if you haven't watched it, highly recommend that you do - one of favourite heartwarming k-dramas).
The upside of this place is that they pre-cook the meat (to reduce the amount of smoke) before cooking the meat at the table for you and the sides are decent too.
Gwanghwamun Gukbap [광화문국밥]
Address: 53 Sejong-daero 21-gil, Sogong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opening hours: Monday - Friday (11:30am - 2:30pm, 5:30pm - 9:40pm), Saturday (12:00pm - 2:30pm, 5:00pm - 9:00pm), Sunday (closed)
Gukbap - hot soup with rice
I love a good bowl of gukbap on a cold day, it’s just so comforting and hits all the right spots.
Gwanghwamun Gukbap has been awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand (since 2020) and for good reason; the broth was clear and light, full of flavour and has no porky smell. All of us ordered the dwaeji gukbap and it was unanimous that this was the best soupy meal that we have eaten on this trip.
Another highlight besides the gukbap was the sundae, it was exceptional good. Not everyone is a fan of sundae but if you have a plate of it here, you might just change your mind about it.
Majang Meat Market [마장축산물시장]
Address: 4-1 Gosanja-ro 24-gil, Seongdong-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opening hours: Monday - Saturday (8:30am - 9:00pm), Sunday (7:00am - 9:00pm)
They say if you want to try Hanwoo, Majang Meat Market is the place to go. It’s the largest meat market in South Korea and it’s estimated that more than half of all the meat and meat-related products are handled here before they are distributed through the city.
What is Hanwoo? Hanwoo is to Korean what Wagyu is to the Japanese. With the exception that Hanwoo is not exported out of Korea (except Hong Kong) as the demand for hanwoo is higher than its supply. This means that when you are in Korea, trying hanwoo is a must.
There are two ways that you can enjoy hanwoo at Majang Meat Market; buying hanwoo at a local butcher shop and getting it cooked at a restaurant in the Food Alley OR buying hanwoo at the restaurant and having them cook the meat for you.
Also, compared to Western countries, they have about 30 beef cuts but for Korean beef cuts, there is about 120 cuts!
The three best parts of hanwoo that I would recommend are: Ggotdeungshim (ribeye), Anchangsal (thin skirt) and Salchisal (flap tail).
A little tip when you cook the meat, always start with the meat that has the least fat and work your way up.
Manjok Ohyang Jokbal [만족오향족발 시청점]
Address: 318-1 Taepyeongno 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opening hours: Monday - Friday (11;30am - 10:00pm), Saturday - Sunday (12:00pm - 10:00pm)
There are several franchised locations of Manjok Ohyang Jokbal scattered across Seoul, we visited the City Hall Branch. It is also the OG store that started back in 1989.
It may be a franchised restaurant, but it doesn’t stop it from making the Michelin Bib Gourmand list (since 2017).
The thing I like about Manjok Ohyang Jokbal is that it offers two of my favourite items on the menu; jokbal and bossam. The texture of the jokbal here was perfect, the meat melted in your mouth and the ratio of fat to meat was just right. Simply mouth-watering goodness especially when paired with their special garlic sauce.
Also, you are able to enjoy your jokbal warm until the very last piece as the meat is placed on top of specially designed hotplates installed into the tables.
Songjuk Porridge [송죽 죽 전문점]
Address: 31 Supyo-ro 6-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opening hours: Monday - Thursday (7:00am - 6:30pm), Friday (7:00am - 3:00pm), Saturday - Sunday (7:00am - 1:00pm)
A universal breakfast that is loved by many and each Asian country has their own way of cooking this bowl of delicious goopy goodness.
Songjuk Porridge is one of the few places in Myeondong near our hotel that opens early for breakfast.
If you are in need of a hangover cure in the morning or if you are feeling a bit under the weather, this would be the perfect place because the porridge here was cooked perfectly and all the ingredients was well seasoned.
I highly recommend the pumpkin porridge here, silky smooth and even has mochi in it. The seaweed porridge comes topped with a raw egg yolk and has oysters in it too, the seaweed tasted super fresh like they had just harvested it from the sea that morning, you can taste the greenness in a good way.
What are you favourite restaurants in Seoul?