10 best Korean restaurants in Seoul

10 Best Korean Restaurants In Seoul

(CNN) — “Best of” lists are controversial, unscientific, inherently subjective and also also also are guaranteed to result in bellyaching. although they are Great for precisely This specific reason: they get us talking about food.

10 Best Korean Restaurants In Seoul

In order to compile our own list, we spoke with many certified “foodies” — people who obsess about food about as much as we do. One of those people can be Jun Kyung-woo, the co-author of best-selling book “Dining in Seoul.”

10 Best Korean Restaurants In Seoul

“The first question can be: how do you define Korean food?” says Jun. “can be This specific the ingredients? can be This specific Korean because This specific exists in Korea? can be This specific what Korean people actually eat?”

10 Best Korean Restaurants In Seoul

Indeed, the constantly shifting topography of Korean cuisine today includes dishes like pizza topped with fried shrimp and also also also sweet potatoes and also also also Chinese food like jjajjangmyun (black bean noodles). Respectively, they are branded “Italian” and also also also “Chinese” food, although are so heavily Koreanized of which they could be unfamiliar to native inhabitants of those countries.

10 Best Korean Restaurants In Seoul

There can be a long, dynamic history of which includes a certain ingredients and also also also flavors like soy, garlic, red pepper and also also also techniques like salting, pickling, and also also also braising. So while an outlandish pizza might be an entirely Korean product, with This specific list, we are looking at food of which incorporates a long genealogy on the Korean Peninsula.

10 Best Korean Restaurants In Seoul

of which being said, our conception of Korean food isn’t narrow. We value the bowl of naengmyun via the restaurant of which has operated for over three decades as much as the artfully constructed plates of which filter Korean flavors through molecular gastronomy.

10 Best Korean Restaurants In Seoul

There can be an astounding breadth to Korean cuisine. We’d like to think of which This specific can be a start:

1. Song Jook Heon (송죽헌)

True hanjeongsik, or traditional Korean food, can be all about space — literal, physical space.

“With real hanjeongsik, you could wait in an empty room,” says Gang Heon, a music and also also also food critic. “Then they could bring in a table filled with 30 different dishes. Where there was nothing, suddenly, there could be an abundance.”

This specific can be difficult to find restaurants of which still operate This specific way.

“As a result of Western influence, there has been a shift,” says Gang.

In a concession to Westernization, most hanjeongsik restaurants in Seoul offer food in time-based courses rather than the cornucopia of plates overflowing the table. According to Gang, if you are going to stay in Seoul, you could do well by going to Song Jook Heon, the Seoul location of a restaurant across the street via the secret garden of Changdeokgung Palace.

The original location can be in Gwangju in Jeollanam-do, and also also also offers a delicious spread of dishes of which include grilled abalone with pan-fried ginkgo berries, duck patties having a hint of ginger, and also also also codfish dumplings with an egg white foam.

They will also grant particular requests, so they will serve you samgyetang or spicy chicken stew if you call ahead.

Reservations are absolutely necessary.

The meal ends, in true Jeollado style, with rice and also also also a variety of jeotgal and also also also jangajji or salted fish eggs and also also also anchovies. The flavors are pungent, unapologetic and also also also not for first-timers.

“This specific’s hardcore,” says Gang.

37-2, Unni-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul; +82 2 763 4234

2. Yong Su San (용수산)

If the Jeolla-do style of royal cuisine can be, as Gang says, the “boss” of Korean food, then the food via Gaesung, the former capital during the Koryo dynasty, can be its main rival. Where Jeolla food can be boldly, almost aggressively, flavored, the food of Gaesong can be clean and also also also more subtle.

Gaesong style lends itself more easily to Western palates. The restaurant Yong Su San has opened many branches over the past three decades, including one in Los Angeles.

Gaesong food also has the advantage of being visually stunning, whether This specific can be the gujeolpan — crepes with finely julienned vegetables and also also also proteins separated according to shade — or sinseollo, a soup having a bounty of meats, seafood and also also also vegetables served in a heated silver brazier.

Yong Su San has multiple locations.

Main branch, 118-3 Samcheong-dong, Jongro-gu, Seoul; +82 2 771 5553

3. Eulji Myun Oak (을지면옥)

“Naengmyeon can be a distinctly Korean dish,” says Gang. “This specific’s not just noodles, This specific’s soul food.”

Gang’s favorite naengmyeon restaurant can be a somewhat rundown restaurant of which has operated for over 30 years called Eul Ji Myun Ok.

“They have maintained a lot of of which traditional flavor,” he says.

The flavor can be not robust and also also also meaty inside the direction of which many naengmyeon restaurants have taken as of late, although rather clean and also also also refreshing.

Eul Ji Myun Ok incorporates a sister restaurant (actually run by the sister of the original founder) called Pil Dong Myun Ok (필동면옥) around Chungmuro. Which one can be better? According to Gang, Eul Ji can be better.

“This specific’s a little down-home.”

177-1 Yipjung-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 중구 입정동177-1); +82 2 2266 7052

4. Tosokchon Samgyetang (토속촌)

Tosokchon Samgyetang can be known for its samgyetang.

Courtesy Tosokchon Samgyetang

Tosokchon Samgyetang can be famous for being famous. This specific used to be a favorite of the late president, Noh Muh-hyun. This specific’s a mainstay in guidebooks to Seoul, as evidenced by its popularity among tourists, and also also also yet, the hype can be well-deserved.

The restaurant can be best known for one thing: samgyetang. The young, spring chicken — stuffed with chestnuts, garlic, dried jujubes, and also also also most importantly, ginseng — can be slow-cooked for hours on end. The food can be meant to re-energize a flagging spirit, and also also also traditionally, can be meant to be eaten on one of the three dog days of summer, the sambok.

although once you’ve tasted the nutty, sweet, and also also also soothing broth, you’re not going to want to wait until next summer to taste This specific again.

85-1 Chaebu-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 종로구 체부동85-1); +82 2 737 7444

5. Si Wha Dam (시화담)

“We run This specific restaurant like a museum,” says Oh Chung, owner of Si Wha Dam. “There are things here of which you can only see at a museum.”

On the entrance floor, there are display cases filled with ancient relics and also also also antiques, including traditional burial accessories via the second and also also also third centuries — clay ducks and also also also roosters, spiritual intermediaries between heaven and also also also earth.

These artistic sensibilities take center stage on plates of food of which seem too gorgeous to be consumed.

The food itself stands meekly against such presentation — two fish balls made of flounder sit on a cascade of pebbles next to the flourish of a budding branch of an apricot tree.

“We don’t want one thing to dominate,” says Oh. “although rather harmonize with the rest of the dish.”

Indeed, the meal can be a parade of handcrafted plates (there are different prix fixe menus according to cost), each decorated with flowers of which had been picked of which day. The food though, fades via memory like a fuzzy dream of which has just left your grasp.

5-5 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul; +82 2 798 3311

6. Koraebul (고래불)

If you still don’t have a taste for raw seafood, This specific can be the place to acquire This specific. The seafood restaurant Koraebul, literally meaning “whale fire,” takes its name via a seaside town inside the northern part of Gyeongsang province where they get their seafood.

The restaurant might be located around Yeoksam-dong in Gangnam, although receives its seafood fresh via fishermen on the east coast of the peninsula every morning.

Since the ingredients are so fresh, Koraebul often serves raw preparations of its seafood, whale, flatfish, and also also also abalone to come chilled and also also also sliced alongside sauces like the spicy and also also also vinegary chojang or with some doenjang, fermented bean paste. The rest of the menu includes prix fixe courses of which display the abundance of the East Sea with rock octopus, clams, and also also also turbot.

828-53, Yeoksam1-dong, Seoul; +82 2 556 3677

7. Jung Sik Dang (정식당)

In 2009, chef Yim Jung Sik opened a restaurant in Apgujeong called Jung Sik Dang, a play off of his own name and also also also the word for a prix fixe menu. While studying at the Culinary Institute of America, Yim formed a strong bond with some of his classmates with whom he could later open the restaurant.

Jung Sik Dang can be one of the first restaurants in Korea to bring molecular gastronomic techniques to Korean cuisine. Riding on of which success in Seoul, they have opened a second location in downtown Manhattan in Tribeca.

The menu modifications regularly according to the chef’s whims as well as the seasons. One of their signature dishes though, can be a sea urchin bibimbap. They take a spin on a classic dish by using fresh raw sea urchin as the protein and also also also a seaweed puree in place of the traditional spicy red pepper paste, gochujang which creates a salty, umami flavor profile. The dish can be finished having a sprinkling of toasted millet of which lends the rice a smoky crunch.

11 Seolleung-ro 158-gil, Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu (서울특별시); +82 2 517 4654

8. Jinju Jip (진주집)

There can be little pretension when This specific comes to dining after a long hard night of drinking. After all, when you are in need of a hangover cure, nothing will quell an upset stomach quite like a hearty bowl of beef soup.

Jinju Jip, located in a nondescript alley near Namdaemun, can be open 24 hours for precisely of which reason. Their specialty can be an oxtail soup where the meat has been braised for hours and also also also can be so tender of which This specific quivers at the touch of a spoon.

“This specific soup can be universally appreciated,” says Jun. “This specific’s not expensive and also also also you can eat This specific comfortably.”

34-31 Namchang-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul; +82 2 318 7072

9. Byeokje Galbi (벽재갈비)

Byeokje Galbi strive to discover, rear and also also also serve hanwoo of the very finest quality.

Courtesy Byeokje Galbi

No list could be complete without a Great old fashioned Korean barbecue restaurant. When This specific comes to meat on a grill, nothing can be more important than the quality of the meat, and also also also no one can be more obsessive about of which than the owners of Byeokjae Galbi.

The meat here comes via organically fed Korean cows, also known as hanwoo, which can be much costlier than most of the imported beef.

“Korean beef can be more similar to Japanese kobe,” says Jun. “People in Seoul like the meat to melt in your mouth.”

Bangi-dong branch, 1-4, Yangjae-daero 71-gil, Songpa-gu, Seoul; +82 2 415 5522

10. Congdu

Congdu was previously based inside the Seoul National History Museum, although the eatery has since relocated to the grand former home of the last emperor of Joseon’s grandmother.

The fine-dining establishment serves some of the best Korean food in Seoul, with owner Vivian Han travelling around Korea to seek out top suppliers and also also also ingredients.

“My concept was to take authentic Korean tastes and also also also use high quality local ingredients and also also also creatively prepare them to titillate modern tastes and also also also sensibilities,” she says.

Congdu can be most famed for This specific’s ganjang gejang (soy sauce crab), which can be made with Korean blue crab and also also also served with white rice and also also also dried seaweed.

Congdu, 116-1 Deoksu Palace-gil Junggu; +82 2 722 7002

Alex Jung can be a food and also also also travel writer. His love for food can be only limited by the capacity of his stomach.

Editor’s note: This specific article was previously published in 2012. This specific was reformatted and also also also republished in 2017.

10 best Korean restaurants in Seoul