Life in South Korea

Top 5 Korean Foods

Hey all,

Having lived in Korea for over 6 months now, I think it’s finally time I write something about the food here.  I’ve grown fond of a lot of different Korean foods that I had never tasted much less heard of before I came here. In Toronto, as most of you know, the only Korean food you really get is Korean BBQ unless you’re prepared to wade through Korea town and order by pointing.  Korean BBQ is good of course, but Korea definitely has more to offer.  

While Korean food is definitely good, living here for this long has also made me realize how good I had it in Toronto, where you can get any kind of food you want, pretty much at any time.  There are some foods I am really missing here, and when I think that it’s going to be 6 more months before I can have them, it makes me a little frustrated.   So I thought it would be an interesting idea to contrast my top 5 favourite Korean foods with the 5 foods I miss the most from back home.  I’m sure the latter half will be significantly less interesting, but hey if writing about the food I want is going to make me feel better then I’m doing it.  So here, we go.   Leading off my with my favourite Korean food.  (all these pictures are stolen from people using google)

1.  Dak Kalbi

Dak Kalbi is spicy chicken pieces cooked at your table with healthy doses of cabbage, rice cakes and hot sauce.  You take a piece of lettuce in your palm, add chicken, rice cake, cabbage, maybe a hot pepper or piece of garlic, a little red pepper sauce and eat.  Delicious.  Sounds spicy and it is, but it’s also amazing.  This is a staple of Korean cuisine and it’s almost criminal not to drink copious amounts of Soju and beer when having this.

2.  Kim Bap

Kim bab is basically Korean sushi.  They’re like “california rolls” i guess.  Except they rarely have any seafood in them and usually have things like ham, egg, cucumber etc.  Really delicious.  By far the best kind in my opinion is called “Chamchi Kim bap” and has tuna mixed up in it.  Kim Bap is definitely the post bar food of choice for Koreans and the little restaurants and stands that serve them are usually open pretty late.



3.  Beef Bulgogi

I’ve had homemade beef bulgogi a few times here, and when it’s made well it’s amazing.  Tangy beef that’s a little bit spicy.  You can put it in lettuce like Dak Kalbi or just eat it on its own.  It’s awesome.



4.  Sam Gyup Sal

Sam Gyup Sal is similar to Dak Kalbi in that you make your own little lettuce taco, except instead of spicy chicken Sam Yeop Sul is pretty much fatty bacon.   Excellent when eaten with cooked onion and mushrooms which you throw in the lettuce wrap as well.  The only thing about Sam Yeop Sul is that I’ve had really, really good Sam Gyup Sal (homemade, cooked on a farm probably my best meal in Korea), and really bad Sam Gyup  Sal, so it depends a lot where you get it from.  Luckilly, Koreans usually know where you should and shouldn’t go to get this.


5.  Kim

Kim is dried, usually toasted in some kind of salty oil, seaweed.   It’s awesome by itself as a snack, and even better wrapped around some rice.  A lot of bars give you this free with a spicy soya sauce for free when you drink.  Tastes a lot better than it sounds.  Trust me.



So those are 5 Korean foods I’ve grown to love while living here.  Do they make up for not being able to have these 5?  ….Not sure.   Ask me in about 5 months.    As good as the above foods are, I haven’t gone 6 months without having #1 on the below list in a very, very long time.  So here are the 5 foods I miss from home the most.  If you’re in Toronto and planning a long term trip, I recommend hitting these places one last time before you go, cause trust me, you’ll miss them when you’re gone.  (NB this list does not include anything made by my mother cause we’d be here all day)

1.  Duff’s Wing

What else do I really need to say about these.  Hands down the best wings ever and if you disagree, well, you suck.  With every Tuesday that passes that I don’t get Duffs it makes me that much sadder.  I don’t miss ‘wings,’  I miss Duffs.



2.  Johnny’s

From the best wings in Toronto to the best burger.  Eating the crap that passes for a burger here (McDonalds or a McDonalds rip off called Lotteria) gets harder and tastes worse each time (I usually reserve it for post bar and it still tastes like crap).  I’d do horrible things for  Johnny burger right now.



3.   GOOD subs.

We have subs here.  Sort of.  They’re O.K., but they’re a far cry from anything like Subway, Quiznos or Bellys.  You definitely can’t get a real Italian BMT or anything even close.


4.  Keg steaks

We have Outback here.  I went once and paid 40$ for a bloody, subpar steak.  I ordered medium and it looked like they almost forgot to kill the cow.   There’s “steak” like that then there is real steak.  Keg steaks.  Or Costco steaks cooked at home.  Either way a good steak is impossible to get in Jeonju, despite paying a lot.



5.  It’s hard to pick just one thing to round out the top 5 but I’m going to have to go with good Indian food.  I had some in Japan and it made me remember how much I’ve missed it.  No such thing in Jeonju.



Well now I’m starving.  Until next time folks.  I’ll leave you with one that’s not technically food, but something  that I just might miss more than any of the above foods.  Cheers,



6 Responses to “Top 5 Korean Foods”

  1. I miss Duffs and Keiths too! I don’t want to be a traitor to Australia but I must say on the whole, Canadian beer and bacon is tops. It does not help that I live in bfn, but I have not have ribs or wings since I left Toronto. I feel your pain Miller, I really do.

  2. HEY, im also a korean but i live in america. i was bored during a class of computer art and decided to visit. can i suggest eating sundeh, or su jeh bi (they are two separate things)

  3. Bike…

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  5. i like this post, thanks for sharing sir 🙂 Drakor sub indo

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