One of the biggest cultural revolutions in the world these days has been led by none other than the Koreans. From the musical arena, where K-Pop stars have broken into the western mainstream (PSY being the best example) to fashion, the impeccable sense of style that this rapidly ascending Eastern culture possesses is catching on throughout the world.
They have also started promoting their cuisine with the same fervour as they has been with their musical artists, and it is a style of food preparation well worth trying, with its emphasis on fresh ingredients and intense yet flavourful spice combinations.
This has created an abundance of healthy dishes that will likely win you over in the first few bites, which bodes well for the dining enthusiast who wishes to keep tabs on their overall health as they age.
After being won over by this dynamic cuisine’s many faces, you may want to sample the very best concoctions that Korea has to offer in its capital city, Seoul. In this spirit, we are happy to recommend three of the restaurants that best reflect the many moods of Korean cuisine in this nation’s cultural centre.
Song Jook Heon, (37-1 Unni-dong, Jongro-gu)
Situated in the historical and business centre of Seoul, Song Jook Heon specializes in a traditional Korean style of eating known as hanjeongsik, where a main meat/fish/hotpot dish is accompanied by a massive amount of smaller side dishes (banchan). Upwards of 30 banchan are offered with main dishes here, which include kimchi (fermented cabbage), various seaweed creations, etc.
The quality of these side dishes exceed those usually offered with other Korean meals, as this type of meal originated in the royal courts and in the houses of aristocrats, so the flavours experienced in these mini-offerings will delight those who seek out a peak culinary experience.
Byeokje Galbi, (1-4, Yangjae-daero 71-gil, Songpa-gu)
Those who are dedicated carnivores should check out bulgogi restaurants, which can be found easily in any entertainment district in Seoul, or anywhere in Korea for that matter. Those seeking another tasty variety of meat should also seek out galbi, which are grilled beef/pork short ribs grilled on your table in front of you.
The best place to have this personal culinary experience in Seoul would be Byeokje Galbi , where top quality Korean beef (some of the priciest meat in the world) is grilled in thin strips on a stove in front of you, and the side dishes provided with the meal and either be enjoyed separately, or be incorporated into the whole experience eating this juicy and sumptuous flesh (often meaning wrapping the meat, vegetables and sauces in a lettuce leaf and consuming it in a kaleidoscope-like array of deliciousness.
Imun Seolleongtang, (Jongno-gu Gongpyeong-dong 46)
If you visit during the chiller months of the year, and you could use a warm, hearty bowl of soup to comfort you from the inside, then a visit to Imun Seolleongtang will satisfy that desire completely. Their signature dish comprises half the name of this restaurant, as Seolleongtang consists of a broth that is formulated by boiling ox bones and brisket for several hours, with rice and/or noodles being added to the process towards the end of the cooking process. This dish has nourished many people over the years, as it was conceived in a time when resources were limited.
When you arrive in Seoul, the sheer variety of Korean dining options will overwhelm you. By giving you a shortlist of three of the best restaurants in the city, it will give you the best first impression of a cuisine that is presently taking the world by storm.