Many people are choosing Seoul as their next destination when traveling and don’t have a problem trying to find things to see and do, but where should one start when hungry? Some believe Korea’s other regions have the best food, but Seoul is where everyone comes to serve their best. However, it’s not just Korean food anymore, as the country’s foreign population is continuously growing. Here’s your ethnic food guide to Seoul, from the city’s best Korean food to offerings from around the world.
An Ethnic Food Guide to Seoul
I know this is a guide to food found outside Korea, but this will get you started with the local scene. Begin with the city’s best Korean barbecue scattered throughout the city. Other greatest hits include bibimbap and dak galbi and some seasonal varieties. Good sit-down restaurants are everywhere in Seoul, but the real action is at the markets and food stalls, ranging from well-known to hidden gems. After eating enough Korean food for two people, you might want something different and will need help finding it.
For a look at Korean food before you head out, look at this Seoul Food Korean Cookbook by Naomi Imatome-Yun!
Good food from Korea’s neighbors is all over the city, and you can start with any of the city’s Chinese restaurants that offer fusion and standard fare. When walking around the city, you’ll see many Japanese restaurants, but not all are as good as advertised. Start with Little Tokyo in Ichon Dong, and you’ll find a wonderful collection of sushi restaurants and izakayas. Southeast Asian food is also available throughout Seoul, with food from Thailand and Vietnam headlining an all-star list.
Russia and India
If you’re staying around the Dongdaemun History and Culture Park, take a short walk and you’ll find some of the best borscht you’ll ever eat. Little Russia has it all for those in search of food from the motherland and its neighbors, ranging from Mongolian all the way west to Ukraine. You’ll find the city’s best Indian restaurants scattered throughout the city and new ones popping up all the time. Keep in mind that some are great while others are worth passing on.
Everything Else, Itaewon
Before getting to the city’s biggest collection of ethnic eats, you can sample some nice French food in Seorae Village. A good chunk of Korea’s French expats live here and have brought their wonderful cooking skills with them. However, what would an ethnic food guide to Seoul be without mentioning Itaewon? Visitors to this expat hotbed rarely come away unhappy and never have to search long for familiar tastes. Just about everybody is serving up something good, from breakfast to dinner and brunch in between. You can even arrange a night trip to Itaewon if unsure about where to start.
With so many food options in Seoul, keep this guide on hand and your appetite will always stay on track. As a visitor to the Korean capital, you’re in luck because just about every country gets culinary representation. Now that you’ve seen the best food from inside and outside Korea, aren’t you ready to book a flight to Seoul? Have a great time in the Korean capital and bring a strong, healthy appetite with you.
Photo by Keith Beck via Trover.com. This Seoul travel guide is part of our series on Food Travel, South Korea Travel, and East Asia Travel. It was originally created on July 17, 2015. It has been maintained and updated (as of December 28, 2018) to reflect current viewpoints and travel trends.