Non-spicy Korean foods
Many Korean dishes are known for being spicy. Some of the most representative Korean foods such as kimchi, tteokbokki, and bibimbap are made with red chili in either paste or powder form, giving them a hot and spicy flavor. Red chili has been one of the key ingredients in Korean cuisine for a very long time. Most Koreans become accustomed this spicy taste from a young age; however, those with a low tolerance for spiciness might be hesitant to try Korea’s spicy dishes. Not everyone’s taste buds are created equal, so here are some non-spicy Korean foods to try.
Loved by royals – Tteok-galbi and Bibimbap
Tteok-galbi (grilled short rib patties)
Tteok-galbi (grilled short rib patties) is a tasty Korean dish made from galbi, or short ribs. The finely minced meat is seasoned and made into patties. The combination of this flavorsome meat with tteok (rice cake) results in a dish that is soft and tender yet chewy in the right places.
☞ Best way to enjoy tteok-galbi: This dish is best enjoyed with a bowl of kimchimari-guksu. Even though it has the word “kimchi” in it, this soup dish is not spicy since it is made without the red chili powder. The refreshing taste of the cold noodles works with the tteok-galbi to bring out the rich flavor of the meat.
Tteokgalbidwae (11:00–22:00, closed on Sundays)
- Address: 2F, 169, Wausan-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul
- Directions: Sinchon Station (Seoul Subway Line 2), Exit 8. The restaurant is about 720 meters from the exit.
- Recommended dishes: Handon tteokgalbi bibimbap 7,000 won / handon tteokgalbi jeongsik 8,000 won
- Inquiries: +82-2-3144-4758 (Korean)
Bujikkaengi (11:00–22:00, open all year round)
- Address: 1F, 100, Dongmak-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul
- Directions: Sangsu Station (Seoul Subway Line 6), Exit 3. The restaurant is 152 meters away from the exit.
- Recommended dishes: Handon tteokgalbi-jeongsik 14,000 won
- Inquiries: +82-2-3143-3737 (Korean)
- Address: 136-1, Samcheong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Directions: Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 2. Take Jongno 02 Bus and get off at 감사원 (The Board of Audit and Inspection of Korea) Bus Stop. Walk to the restaurant for about 500 meters.
- Recommended dishes: Tteokgalbi 8,000 won / kimchimari-guksu 5,000 won
- Inquiries: +82-2-739-6742 (Korean)
There are many stories about bibimbap’s origin; one of them is that it was a dish originally for royals. Today’s bibimbap is usually a combination of rice, various vegetables, and red chili paste, but its growing popularity has also given rise to a new concept version of the dish. It can be adjusted to suit one's taste by replacing the red chili paste with butter or soy sauce, or by using one’s choice of preferred toppings.
☞ Best way to enjoy bibimbap: Use chopsticks to mix the bibimbap in order to avoid rice grains from getting crushed and becoming overly sticky. In case of dolsot-bibimbap (hot stone pot bibimbap), make sure to mix it immediately to prevent the rice from burning.
Haemulsotbap Morang – Gangnam, Main Branch (11:00-21:00/ weekend 12:00-20:00)
- Address: 359, Gangnam-daero, Seocho-gu, Seoul
- Directions: Gangnam Station (Seoul Subway Line 2), Exit 5. The restaurant is on the 2nd floor of Aritaum Building.
- Recommended dishes: Haemulsot-bap 9,500 won / bulgogisot-bap 9,500 won, beoseotsot-bap 8,500 won
- Inquiries: +82-2-521-3980 (Korean)
Bibigo - CJ Food World Branch (07:00–21:00/ full service after 11:00/ weekend 11:00-22:00)
- Address: B1, Dongho-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul
- Directions: Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station (Seoul Subway Line 2, 4, 5), Exit 5. Go straight for 500 meters.
- Recommended dishes: Bibigo rice 8,500 won / juksun tteok-galbi 18,000 won
- Inquiries: +82-2-6740-7979, +82-1577-0700
Gogung – Myeongdong Branch (11:00–22:00, closed on Seollal and Chuseok)
- Address: 37, Myeong-dong 8-ga-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
- Directions: Myeongdong Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), Exit 10. The restaurant is located behind Sejong Hotel.
- Recommended dishes: Jeonju traditional bibimbap 11,000 won / goldongban-jeongsik (35,000 won)
- Inquiries: +82-2-776-3211Healthy food to nourish the body – Han-jeongsik and Juk
Healthy food to nourish the body – Han-jeongsik and Juk
Han-jeongsik (Korean table d’hote)
The typical Korean meal consists of rice, soup, greens and various side dishes. Due to the ongoing wellbeing trend in Korea, more and more han-jeongsik restaurants are using less condiments and more organic ingredients. If you want to be able to try a variety of Korean dishes at one time, try han-jeongsik.
☞ Best way to enjoy han-jeongsik: There is no particular order to follow when it comes to han-jeongsik. You can eat the rice with the soup or have them separately as you enjoy a generous variety of side dishes. At some restaurants, you can also order yeonip-bap (rice steamed in lotus leaves) instead of plain rice. Yeonip-bap is very healthy because the lotus leaf is considered as an effective natural medicine to treat cardiovascular diseases. Remove the leaf before eating the yeonip-bap.
Hangaram (Mon–Sat: 11:30–22:00 / Sun: 12:00–22:00)
- Address: 109-1, Samcheong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Directions: City Hall Station, (Seoul Subway Lines 1 & 2). Take Bus 11 and get off at Samcheongdong Community Center (located next to Coffee Bean)
- Recommended dishes: Gondeurenamul-bap jeongsik 10,000 won / yakseon yeonip-bap jeongsik 13,000 won / fermented doenjang handon jeongsik 15,000 won / hangaram matchum jeongsik 27,000~77,000 won / hangaram citron makgeolli 15,000 won (700ml)
- Inquiries: +82-2-722-5511
Jahamun Hanjeonsik (11:30–21:30)
- Address: Ino Garden, 493-5, Jinheung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Directions: Gyeongbokgung Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 3. Take Bus 7022 Bus and get off at Kookmin Bank - Segeomjeong Branch.
- Recommended dishes: Jwauijeong 28,000 won / sura jeongsik 58,000 won
- Inquiries: +82-2-396-5000
Hanwoori Korea Traditional Restaurant (Lunch 12:00-15:00/ weekday dinner 18:00-22:00/ weekend dinner 18:00-21:30)
- Address: 308, Dosan-daero, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
- Directions: Hakdong Station (Seoul Subway Line 7), Exit 10. Turn left at Korea Customs Service four-way intersection and go straight for 500 meters towards Dosan four-way intersection.
- Recommended dishes: Seafood salad 20,000 won / nokdu-jeon (mung bean pancake, haemul-pajeon (seafood & green onion pancake) 18,000 won
- Inquiries: +82-2-541-4277
Juk (porridge) is one of the most common slow foods in Korea. Made with boiled grains such as rice or beans, juk is a staple "get well" dish because it is often eaten when one is sick or recovering from bad health. It is known to have nutritional benefits, and is considered to be beneficial to digestion because of its soft texture. This dish is recommended for those who want a nice and light break from the more flavorful dishes. Danhobak-juk (sweet pumpkin porridge) and patjuk (red bean porridge) are two of the popular juk varieties that are usually available at traditional tea cafes.
☞ Best way to enjoy juk: As juk is served hot, transfer a little portion to a smaller bowl first. If it too bland for your taste, add a bit of soy sauce or eat it with some side dish.
Bonjuk – Jonggak Station Branch (Mon–Fri: 09:30–22:00 / weekend: 11:30–21:30)
- Address: 73, Jong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Directions: Jonggak Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), Exit 3. The restaurant is 260 meters away from the exit.
- Recommended dishes: Sogogi beoseot-juk (beef and mushroom juk) 8,000 won
- Inquiries: +82-2-730-6388, +82-1644-6288
Juk Story (08:00–20:00, closed on weekends)
- Address: 92, Saemunan-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Directions: Gwanghwamun Station (Seoul Subway Line 6), Exit 6. Walk towards Dongwha Duty Free Shop for about 100m. The restaurant is located on B1F of Officia Building.
- Recommended dishes: Jeonbuk-juk (abalone rice porridge) 10,000 won
- Inquiries: +82-2-733-8844, +82-1588-6690
Food for sharing – Saengseon-hoe, Jogae-gui and Suyuk
Saengseon-hoe (sliced raw fish)
Because the Korean Peninsula is surrounded on three sides by the sea, there are plenty of dishes made with fresh seafood. For a real taste of seafood, try the saengseon-hoe (sliced raw fish). There are plenty of restaurants in Seoul that serve saengseon-hoe, but it would be even better to have saengseon-hoe while enjoying the ocean view in a port city such as Incheon.
☞ Best way to enjoy raw fish: Saengseon-hoe is usually eaten with chojang (sweet and spicy red chili sauce). Those with a lower tolerance for spiciness can dip it in soy sauce instead. It can be eaten individually, or by adding garlic and wrapping it in a lettuce leaf. Saengseon-hoe is also usually accompanied by some alcoholic drink.
Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market (Open all year round, generally 03:30-22:00)
- Address: 688, Nodeul-ro, Dongjak-gu, Seoul
- Directions: Noryangjin Station (Seoul Subway Line 1). Follow the footbridge connecting the station to the market.
- Recommended dishes: Various seafood
- Inquiries: +82-2-814-2211
Sajo Tuna – Seodaemun Branch (09:30–22:00, closed on Sundays and national holidays)
- Address: 107-39, Tongil-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul
- Directions: Seodaemun Station (Seoul Subway Line 5), Exit 8. Go straight for 30 meters towards Miheung Elementary School. The restaurant is located on the 1st floor of Sajo Building
- Recommended dishes: Chamchi-hoe gold jeongsik (sliced raw tuna table d'hote) 25,000 won / chamchi-hoe (sliced raw tuna) special 50,000 won
- Inquiries: +82-2-364-9838
- Address: 13, Yeouidaebang-ro 65-gil, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul
- Directions: Saetgang Station (Seoul Subway Line 9), Exit 1. The restaurant is 428 meters away from the exit
- Recommended dishes: Lunch special (35,000 won) / hoe-jeongsik (sliced raw fish table d'hote) 30,000 won
- Inquiries: +82-2-786-7576
Jogae-gui (grilled shellfish)
An order of jogae-gui (grilled shellfish) at most restaurants usually refers to a dish of various shellfish. Having the natural flavors of the sea from which it came, the salty, briny flavors are best accompanied with some alcoholic beverage. The nearby city of Incheon is a good place to enjoy this dish if you don’t have the luxury of time to travel to the coastal areas.
☞ Best way to enjoy jogae-gui: Eat it with green onions or dip it in chojang (sweet and spicy red chili sauce) to neutralize the fishy taste. As the shellfish start to open, the fun part begins. Pick and choose from the grill and start opening them to get the yummy goodness inside. Jogae-gui is a must-try when visiting a port city such as Incheon.
Jogae Ilbeongji (13:00–06:00, open all year round)
- Address: 37, Dobong-ro 8-gil, Gangbuk-gu, Seoul
- Directions: Miasageori Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), Exit 2. Go straight for about 150 meters towards Baskin Robins.
- Recommended dishes: Jogae-gui, jjim (small size) 32,000 won (for 2-3 people) / kalguksu, seafood ramyeon 4,000 won
- Inquiries: +82-2-988-1014
Jogaechon (11:00–02:00, open all year round)
- Address: 32-4, Jongno 16-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Directions: Jongno 3-ga Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 3, 5), Exit 15. Go straight for 246 meters and turn left. Walk towards Dongsan Building for 156 meters and turn right.
- Recommended dishes: Jogae-gui and jjim 39,000 won
- Inquiries: +82-2-2269-9256
Wolmido Daewang Jogaegui (10:00–24:00, closes at 22:00 on Sundays)
- Address: 27, Wolmimunhwa-ro, Jung-gu, Incheon
- Directions: Incheon Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), Exit 1. Go towards Dongil Apt for about 330 meters and take Bus 23. Get off at Wolmido (City Tour) Bus Stop and walk for about 150 meters to the restaurant.
- Recommended dishes: Daewang jogae-gui course 70,000 won (for 2 people)
- Inquiries: +82-32-777-9291
Suyuk (boiled beef or pork slices)
Suyuk refers boiled beef or pork slices. The meat is tender and flavorful as it is cooked together with garlic, ginger and black pepper and boiled for a long period of time to eliminate the smell.
☞ Best way to enjoy suyuk: Seolleongtang (ox bone soup), a popular hangover remedy, is a dish containing different cuts of meat, and simmered over a low flame over a prolonged period of time. Seolleongtang helps calm the stomach because of the broth. Suyuk can also be enjoyed by eating it with a sauce made with the right ratio of soy sauce to vinegar.
Duso (Weekdays 10:00-22:00/ weekends 10:00-21:00)
- Address: 26, Bibong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Directions: Bulgwang Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 2. Take Bus 7211 Bus at Bulgwang Station / Bulgwang 1-dong Community Center Bus Stop and get off at Gugi Tunnel / Institute for the Translations of Korean Classics Bus Stop
- Recommended dishes: Suyuk (small) 30,000 won (for 2-3 people) / seolleongtang 9,000 won
- Inquiries: +82-2-395-1216
Chammat Suyuk Gukbap (open 24 hours/ closes at 22:00 on only Mondays and opens at 10:00 on only Tuesdays)
- Address: 6, Cheonho-daero 157-gil, Gangdong-gu, Seoul
- Directions: Cheonho Station (Seoul Subway Line 5), Exit 5. Go straight for 236 meters, go through the underpass and continue for another 28 meters.
- Recommended dishes: Suyuk gukbap (rice soup) 6,000 won
- Inquiries: +82-2-486-9289, +82-1661-3664
Imun Seolnongtang (08:00–21:00)
- Address: 38-13, Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Directions: Jonggak Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), Exit 3. Turn left and walk for 50 meters. The restaurant is located behind Samsung Tower.
- Recommended dishes: Seolleongtang 7,000 won
- Inquiries: +82-2-733-6526
Noodle dishes – Jajangmyeon and Kal-guksu
Jajangmyeon (Black bean sauce noodles)
There are different views regarding the origin of jajangmyeon, but the current version of this dish is a Koreanized version of the original dish. The sauce is made with a salty black bean soybean paste called chunjang, which is then stir-fried together with diced onions, pork or beef, and other ingredients. The cooked sauce is dark brown with a sweet taste and thick consistency. Often seen in Korean dramas, jajangmyeon is one of the most dishes loved by many for its convenience and affordability.
☞ Best way to enjoy jajangmyeon: Jajangmyeon is often enjoyed along with tangsuyuk (sweet and sour pork or beef) and gunmandu (pan-fried dumplings). The crispiness of the tangsuyuk and gunmandu compliment the jajangmyeon perfectly. The dish is served with the sauce on top of the noodles, so mix everything together before eating. The usual side dishes that come with jajangmyeon are danmuji (pickled radish), onions and chunjang sauce. Pour a little vinegar on the radish and dip the onion in the chunjang sauce. This helps reduce the greasiness of the food.
Kkongsimyeongwan (10:30–22:30, open all year round)
- Address: 63, Cheonggyecheon-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Directions: Jonggak Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), Exit 4. Walk towards Cheonggyecheon Stream for 200 meters.
- Recommended dishes: Kkongsi jajangmyeon 5,000 won / jim mandu 6,000 won
- Inquiries: +82-2-779-0709, +82-2-778-8861
Chinafactory – Gangnam Branch (11:00-23:00, oepn all year round)
- Address: 309, Gangnam-daero, Seocho-gu, Seoul
- Directions: Gangnam Station (Seoul Subway Line 2), Exit 5. The restaurant is located on the 2nd floor of Aritaum Building.
- Recommended dishes: Power lunch 14,600 won (per person)
- Inquiries: +82-2-587-1561, +82-1577-0700
Hong Jajang – Seoul Station Branch (11:30–22:00)
- Address: 4, Hangang-daero 104-ga-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
- Directions: Get off at Seoul Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 4), Exit 12. Go towards Dongjadong Gas Station for 234 meters and turn right at Seyeongdoryosangsa.
- Recommended dishes: Jajangmyeon 3,500 won / chapssal (glutinous rice) tangsuyuk 11,000 won (medium size)
- Inquiries: +82-776-0033, +82-1688-7785
Kal-guksu (noodle soup)
Kal-guksu is a noodle dish consisting of handmade knife-cut noodles served in a shellfish broth or meat broth. Potatoes, clams and ground beef are most often added to the noodles. For a fuller meal, try the dak-kal-guksu (chicken noodle soup), which is made by boiling a small whole chicken together with the pot of noodle soup.
☞ Best way to enjoy kal-guksu: A bowl of kal-guksu can be eaten as served, while at some restaurants, a bit of seasoning soy sauce can be added for taste. For dak-kal-guksu, the noodles can be added after eating the tteok, potatoes, and chicken.
Myeongdong Dakhanmari – Main Branch (10:00-01:00)
- Address: 10, Jong-ro 4-ga-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Directions: Dongdaemun Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 4), Exit 9. Go straight for 188 meters, turn left and keep going for 56 meters until you reach Vanilla Sky. Turn right and walk for 45 meters toward Nakji and Gul to find the restaurant on the right.
- Recommended dishes: Dakhanmari 20,000 won (for 2 people) / kalguksu sari 2,000 won
- Inquiries: +82-2-2266-8249
Jongno Halmeoni Kalguksu – Jongno Main Branch (11:00-21:00)
- Address: 1402, Donhwamun-ro 11da-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Directions: Jongno 3-ga Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 3, 5), Exit 6. Take the alley on the left, continue forward, and turn into the first alley.
- Recommended dishes: Kalguksu (5,000 won) / kaljebi (5,000 won)
- Inquiries: +82-2-744-9548
Hwangsaengga Kalguksu (11:00–21:30)
- Address: 78, Bukchon-ro 5-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Directions: Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3). Turn right and walk along Yunboseon-gil Street. Turn left into the intersection down Yulgok-ro 3-gil. Turn right, walk straight, and turn left. Turn right and turn left again.
- Recommended dishes: Wangmandu, kalguksu 8,000 won
- Inquiries: +82-2-739-6339