Seoul has more eateries per square mile than most large cities in the world, and there is a great deal of turnover. With so many places opening and closing, it's hard to keep an accurate count. All manner of Korean food from the affordable to the incredibly expensive can be had. However, if you're looking for familiar Western-style dishes and menus in English, you'll have a harder time finding suitable options. That said, if you head over to Itaewon or the restaurants in some of the upscale hotels, you can get delicious world-class Western-style cuisine. It's also getting easier to find a juicy hamburger or just a good old-fashioned steak. Vegetarians will find an increasing array of options as dining has become a healthier affair in South Korea.
American chains like Pizza Hut, Starbucks, and Krispy Kreme have popped up all over the city, but don't expect the menus you find at home. You'll get a pizza, but it'll arrive with pickles and peppers, and the pasta may have squid in it. You'll also pay more to make up for the fact that many Western-style ingredients have to be imported. If you want an authentic experience and don't want to spend all your cash, you can stick with purely Korean dishes and still have a different experience at every meal. Tip: Most of the higher-end, non-Korean restaurants charge an additional 10% VAT on your meal, while most Korean restaurants price their items with the VAT included.
The only thing that may take getting used to is the fact that Koreans don't distinguish between breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So, it's rice, rice, and more rice all day with little besides noodles to break up the monotony. You'll be hard-pressed to find good ham and eggs first thing in the morning, and free breakfasts are a rare find, even in luxury hotels. You will find bakeries on practically every corner, but don't expect the bread and pastries to taste the way they do at home. That's not to say they taste bad, but while Korean-style bakeries may describe themselves as "French" on their signs, their goods don't offer the same flavors you'd find in Paris.
Food trends here come and go. Seoul is the origin of the Pinkberry/Red Mango yogurt craze, after all. The good news is that there's great food in every neighborhood, and for all you night owls, plenty of 24-hour places where you can get something yummy into the wee hours (some of whom deliver). Wherever you decide to eat, don't forget you don't have to tip. In traditional Korean joints, there's no tipping at all and some of the newer restaurants just take the liberty of adding the service charge (and the VAT) to your bill.
In the past few years, cuisine in Seoul has gotten more sophisticated as chefs work up new innovations with traditional Korean fare or other Asian dishes. The Seoul Finance Center has become a hub for gourmet restaurants. Its basement floors are filled with practically anything a gourmand would desire. You can spend days trying each of the places here and not leave for weeks (though your pocketbook will be considerably lighter).
Inexpensive -- If you're looking for the perfect meal on a sticky, hot summer day, nothing beats a cold bowl of naengmyeon, a dish that originated in North Korea. The best place in town to get it is in "Naengmyeon Alley" in the Ojang-dong neighborhood. Take Seoul subway line 2 to Euljiro 4-ga Station (exit 8), walk toward Jung Ward office, turn left, and you'll find the alley across from Mukjeong Park. Most of the restaurants in the area serve mul naengmyeon (cold buckwheat noodles in beef broth) or bibim naengmyeon (spicy mixed buckwheat noodles) for about W7,000 a bowl. One good place is Ojangdong Hamheung Naengmyeon (90-10 Ojang-dong, Jung-gu; tel. 02/2267-9500), whose interior is cafeteria-style at best, but they do have good broth. The name out in front isn't in English, but look for the large blue sign with white lettering.
Dine in the Sky at Top Cloud -- Located on the 33rd floor of the Jongno Tower (Millennium Plaza) building, Top Cloud (1-1 Jongno 2-ga. tel. 02/2230-3000. Subway line 1, Jonggak Station), run by the owners of the Shilla Hotel, is an elegant restaurant with the best view in all of Seoul. The food is expertly prepared and the steak is particularly outstanding (they do bill themselves as a "bar and grill," after all). It's a great place for a romantic night out or to impress a date. Start out your meal or end it with a cocktail in the bar with live jazz daily from 7:30 to 11:30pm. The lunch set menu costs W45,000, and dinner set menu is W108,000; buffet prices are lower. Reservations are recommended, and arrive early and request a window seat. It's open daily noon-2:30pm (buffet closes at 2pm) and 6-10pm (buffet closes at 8:30pm); the bar is open noon-midnight. Free 3-hour parking is available in the building.
Insadong is a good area to get a traditional Korean meal. Many of the restaurants are down small alleys, tucked away from the main drag. There are also traditional tea shops and great coffeehouses (although they actually let a Starbucks open up here, they insisted that the sign be in Korean), where you'll pay as much for the ambience as the beverage.
Insadong Street Food -- If you get hungry while browsing the ceramics and paper wares on Insadong street, there are plenty of places to grab a quick bite from one of the many street vendors here, while barely breaking your stride. An unusual sweet snack is kkultarae (sometimes called dragon's or king's beard), sold from an open cart. They look like fine white strands of silk wrapped into balls, but are in fact edible threads made from honey, pine nuts, chestnuts, peanuts, and cornstarch. My favorites are the peanut and almond. The cart is open daily 10am to 9pm. Farther down on the same side of the street, you'll find another cart, Sambodang Hoddeok, selling little dough cakes made with glutinous rice and stuffed with black sugar and peanuts. Delicious at only W700 each, once you've tried them, you'll know why there's such a long line. They're here most days from 10am to 8:30pm (closed the first and third Mon of each month). You'll also find men in traditional clothing selling yut (Korean hard "taffy" made from pumpkin), various rice cakes, and Korean cookies. On hot days, you may find the vendor selling shikhae slushee, an icy version of the traditional sweet fermented rice beverage, for W3,000.
It was only in the past decade that the South Korean government let businesses develop here, and that they did. Contemporary fusion restaurants have opened up in remodeled hanok (traditional houses) alongside established old favorites. To get to the main drag, take subway line 3 to Gyeongbokgung Station (exit 5). Walk around to the other side of the palace (or cut through if you're visiting anyway). Then walk across the street to the main road, turn left, and walk about 400m (1,300 ft.) until you get to the three-way intersection, where you'll turn right. This is where the main road for Samcheong-dong starts. Or just grab a taxi and ask the driver to take you to Samcheong-dong.
Linger over a Cup of Tea -- There are so many wonderful traditional tea shops in Insadong and Samcheong-dong that it's really hard to choose. One of my favorites is the hard-to-find Cha Massi-neun Ddeul, 35-169 beonji Samcheong-dong (tel. 02/722-7006), hidden on the hillside (follow the signs to the Silk Rd. or Tibet museums). In a traditional house with floor-to-ceiling glass walls, the interior is a small courtyard garden, while the surrounding tables look out over the city. Teas range from W6,000 to W10,000 and they bring you your own thermos full of hot water to keep refilling your teapot. Hours are daily 11am to 10:30pm. Another lovely teahouse is the Jeontong Dawon(tel. 02/730-6305), located inside the Gyeongjin Art Gallery in Insadong. In this hanok setting, you'll be surrounded by a spacious garden while you enjoy a yuja cha (citron tea) or one of their other traditional beverages. It's open daily 10am to 9pm. So sip and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere while your stress melts away.
Although American fast-food chains have popped up all over Seoul, it's still difficult to get a great non-Korean meal in other parts of the city. Although prices will be a little higher than normal, Itaewon is one of the few areas where you can find authentic international fare. Most of the good restaurants are found in the alley behind the Hamilton Hotel.
Street Food & Other Cheap Eats
Affordable Korean food is everywhere in Seoul, and pojang machas (tent-covered super-casual eating joints) are pretty ubiquitous. At practically every bus stop and subway station, you'll find an ajumma (middle-aged woman) stirring up a spicy red swamp of ddeokbokgi or frying something on a stick. Some of the tastiest options are hoddeok (pan-fried dough cakes stuffed with brown sugar and spices), gimbap (rice rolled in sheets of seaweed with a variety of different fillings), and beung-uh bbang (goldfish-shaped "cookies" filled with red bean -- they also come in other shapes).
The best places to find good street food are near Namdaemun or Dongdaemun markets, in front of boutique shops in Myeongdong, and in Insadong's main drag. If you're not such an adventurous eater but are still budget-conscious, head on over to the basement floors of any of the multistory department stores found all over the city. There you'll find plenty of items on display where you can just point and buy what you want. Some places have Korean "fast-food" courts where you can get a meal for about W5,000. You place your order at the counters, but pay at the cash registers. They'll call your number when your order is ready.
When visiting bakeries in South Korea (like most Asian countries), remember that looks can be deceiving. That gorgeous chocolate cake beckoning from the display case may have the consistency of a dried sponge. Or those delectable-looking baguettes arrayed so nicely in the basket generally lack the fabulous crispy crust and the chewy inside you'd expect -- instead, they're spongy, and the flavor is unique, to say the least. Many of the Korean-style patisseries will have delicious-looking confections; they just might not taste as good as they look.
That doesn't mean that there aren't any great bakeries in town. Here are a few bakeries that make good pastries and breads. The best for overall baked goods is the bakery/deli in the Grand Hyatt Hotel, 747-7 Hannam 2-dong, Yongsan-gu (tel. 02/799-8167). They have great muffins and cakes (that actually taste as good as they look), and their sandwiches are delicious because they're made on good bread. Speaking of bread, if you want a genuine baguette, stop by Wood & Brick in Gwanghwamun or Jae-dong. For a fantastic pain au chocolat or croissant, go to the Paris Croissant (tel. 02/594-4227) across from the subway station in Gangnam. There are many Paris Croissants and Paris Baguettes as part of this chain, but unfortunately not all of them have the same menu.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
The Michelin Guide Seoul 2023 revealed its star selection for the South Korean capital, with a total of 176 restaurants recognised, including 35 with stars.Where do celebrities eat in Seoul? ›
Then why don't you try these restaurants where you'll likely run into a celebrity!
- Wisteria House. ...
- Aunt's House. ...
- Bongsan House. ...
- Dwaeji House. ...
- Hadan. ...
- Konaya. ...
- Eunhang Gol. ...
- Rice cakes in sauce (tteokbokki)
- Pork and potato soup (gamjatang)
- Cold noodles (naengmyun)
- Blood sausage stuffed with noodles (sundae)
- Korean barbecue (gogi-gui)
- Pigs' trotters (jokbal)
- Savoury pancakes (jeon)
- Octopus (jjukkumi)
Yoojung Sikdang (유정식당) is a restaurant that used to feed the members of BTS back in their trainee and rookie days. Since it is located near their old studio, BTS would often visit Yoojung Sikdang to have their meals – sometimes, they even ate all three meals at the restaurant.Is Nobu 3 Michelin stars? ›
Notable citations bestowed upon Nobu's restaurants start with Matsuhisa chosen as one of the Top Ten Restaurant Destinations in the world by the New York Times (1993); Nobu awarded Best New Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation (1995) and Three Stars by Ruth Reichl of the New York Times (1995); Nobu Next Door ...Where do rich people hang out in Korea? ›
The Gangnam area including Gangnam-gu, Seocho-gu, Yongsan-gu, and Songpa-gu, is one of the richest neighborhoods in South Korea. What is Gangnam Style? Gangnam has developed greatly since the 1960s with intensive government investment.Where do BTS hang out in Seoul? ›
Banpo Hangang Park always has been a go-to place for Seoul locals, and for that reason was featured in “BTS' Life in Seoul”. “BTS' Life in Seoul” is a short promotional video of Seoul featuring our boys, aimed at displaying everything you could do in Seoul.Where do celebs go in Seoul? ›
- Cheongdam-dong in Gangnam district.
- Apgujeong-dong in Gangnam district.
- Hannam-dong in Yongsan district.
- Seongbuk-dong in Seongbuk district.
- Banpo-dong in Seocho district.
- Noodle soup at Jongno Halmeoni Kalguksu. ...
- Spicy chicken stew at Gyerim. ...
- Dumplings at ChangHwaDang. ...
- Sunhee Mung Bean Pancake at Gwang Jang Market. ...
- Temple food at Barugongyang. ...
- Sambodang Hotteok in Insadong. ...
- Noryangjin Fish Market. ...
- Seoul coffee.
You should plan to spend around ₩118,491 ($84) per day on your vacation in Seoul, which is the average daily price based on the expenses of other visitors. Past travelers have spent, on average, ₩33,012 ($24) on meals for one day and ₩17,029 ($12) on local transportation.
Samgyeopsal or grilled pork belly is a must have at any Korean Barbecue place. It is Jungkook's favorite food. He loves it so much that he even made a song about it on the spot called Samgyeopsal.Who is most eating food in BTS? ›
Each BTS member has unique and interesting food habits! RM has a sweet tooth and loves eating Jajangmyeon, Suga loves garlic in all his meals, J-Hope enjoys his Kimchi fried rice and Jin loves his steak a lot! The maknae line of BTS are big foodies as well.What is Jungkook favorite meat? ›
Samgyeopsal is a grilled pork belly dish that is wrapped in lettuce leaves and then dipped in sauce before eating. It is said to be one of Jungkook's most favourite dishes.Is there a 4 Michelin star? ›
Perhaps disappointingly, the answer is no - three is still the maximum number of Michelin stars that can be awarded to any one restaurant.Why is Nobu famous? ›
Known for his fusion cuisine blending traditional Japanese dishes with Peruvian ingredients, Nobu has created one of the most recognized Japanese restaurants in the world.Is there a 5 star Michelin? ›
Following the announcement of the 2017 Michelin Guide, the restaurants Le Cinq, Le George and L'Orangerie at the Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris have been collectively crowned with a total of five Michelin stars, making it the first luxury Hotel in Europe with three Michelin-starred restaurants.What salary is rich Korean? ›
According to a survey conducted in South Korea in 2021, around 34.5 percent of millionaires surveyed stated that households with a minimum annual income of 500 million South Korean won or more can be perceived as rich. The threshold to be considered wealthy increased with the level of wealth of the respondents.Who is the richest boy in Korea? ›
Kim Beom-su, founder of Kakao, tops the Forbes richest list of Koreans in 2022 for the first time with a net worth of US$9.6 billion.Who is the richest person in Seoul? ›
In Seoul, there are many idol lodgings near Gangnam, where there are many agencies, and there are many idol lodgings near Cheongdam-dong, Yeongdong Bridge, Konkuk University entrance, Hapjeong or Hongdae.
Although no official surveys have been carried out by the Army worldwide, the majority of sources disclose that the Philippines has the most Army. Unexpectedly, South Korea, the boy band's homeland, ranks second.Where do most Kpop idols live in Seoul? ›
The luxurious Achiul neighbourhood in Guri, Gyeonggi province, a hideaway east of central Seoul, has been mentioned a lot in Korean media recently as A-list K-biz stars have flocked to the area to buy and build homes.Is hooking up common in Korea? ›
South Korean society is slowly but steadily opening up to sexual culture. According to one survey, more than 62 percent of male respondents and 39 percent of female respondents said they would start having sexual intercourse within a month of dating.Can foreigners make friends in Korea? ›
Thankfully, there are groups you can join when you want to speak your mother tongue, eat some familiar food or just talk to people who understand where you're coming from. Virtually every nationality is represented in South Korea, and modern technology makes it easy to find them.Where do K-Pop idols usually hang out? ›
Cafes and restaurants
South Koreans love quirky and hip cafes, and K-Pop idols are no exception. Following their footsteps in and out of their favourite cafes couldn't be easier, because most of them don't make a secret of an idol's visit.
Traditionally the main dish of any Korean meal is rice, which is supported by soup and banchan. However, in Korean restaurants these dishes are often presented to customers as main dishes.Which city in Korea has the best food? ›
Jeonju. Translating literally as 'Perfect Region', it's worth taking a trip to Jeonju (around two hours on the bullet train from Seoul) in the country's southwest. Regarded by many as the food capital of South Korea, the city is renowned for its gastronomy.What is the most famous snack in Korea? ›
Kobuk Chips are one of Korea's most well-known snacks. Turtle chips are known as Kobuk Chips in Korea. In Korean, the name "kobuk" means turtle. These chips come in a variety of flavors, including corn soup, cinnamon, shrimp, churros, and vanilla.What do Korean people eat everyday? ›
Short grain sticky rice is the staple food of the Korean diet, and virtually every meal is served with kimchi, a fermented cabbage, garlic and pepper dish (think sauerkraut with hot sauce).What is a typical breakfast in Korean? ›
Breakfast looks different around the world. In South Korea breakfast may consist of soup, side dishes, and rice. Favorite breakfast soups include galbitang, kongnamul bap, kimchijjigae, or manduguk. There is also a side dish meal called baekban which consists of a small bowl of soup with many side dishes.
Finding Korean Breakfast Restaurants
Sometimes it can mean they open as early as 6:00am. Generally, the exact time will be on the door and look like this: 6시 (6:00), 7시 (7:00), or 8시 (8:00).
Koreans usually ate two meals a day during the cold seasons, and three during the warm seasons.What do Koreans eat for dinner? ›
Most Simple Korean Meals:
Noodles (dry or soup) + Kimchi. Rice + Main Meat or Seafood Dish + Kimchi. Bibimbap or Rice Bowls + Kimchi. One dish meals (Kimchi fried rice, Curry rice, Kongnamul bap) + soup (optional) + Kimchi and/or pickled radish (Danmuji)
Korean cuisine is one of the healthiest cuisines in the world. Korean people have some of the lowest obesity rates in the world, second only to Japan. Most of the main ingredients in Korean cooking are protein-based, with condiments that are very flavorful and use very few calories.Who is the No 1 celebrity in Korea? ›
|2||Hyun-jin Ryu||Baseball player|
|4||Son Heung-min||Football player|
The Top 10 list includes BTS at rank 1, South Korea's President Moon Jae In at rank 2 (6.2 percent votes), BLACKPINK at rank 3, Lee Min Ho at rank 4, athlete Son Heungmin at rank 5 (3.6 percent votes), PSY at rank 6, 'Parasite' director Bong Joon Ho at rank 7 (1.6 percent votes), actress Song Hye Kyo at rank 8 (1.3 ...Is eating alone normal in Korea? ›
The South Koreans already have a word for it: honbap. A portmanteau of honja ("alone") and bap ("food"), honbap is part of a larger loner trend that's overtaken Korea in the last two to three years, as more and more people are choosing to live alone, eat alone, and even drink alone.Where do Idols party in Seoul? ›
Some Idols also open their own cafe and will go their with their friends sometimes. Mostly, they hangout near Gangnam, Hongdae, or Itaewon area.What is the most famous cafe in Korea? ›
1. Cafe Onion Anguk
Heralded as one of the best themed cafes in Seoul, Cafe Onion in Anguk is a stone's throw away from the must-visit Gyeongbokgung Palace. Taking after the facade of the royal palace, the cafe is meant to resemble a hanok (traditional Korean house) from the Joseon dynasty.
|Meal in a cheap restaurant||9,000 KRW (6,000-15,000)|
|Meal for 2 People, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course||65,000 KRW (40,000-134,000)|
|McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal)||7,000 KRW (6,000-8,500)|
|Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught)||4,000 KRW (2,000-8,000)|
Foreign currency declaration upon arrival. If you bring in means of payment not exceeding USD 10,000 to Korea, you do not need any permission or declaration. In addition, there is no need to report or authorize the importation of promissory notes, letters of credit, or bills of exchange.Is 10000 won a lot in Korea? ›
10,000 won (만원, I will call it manwon because that is the Korean pronunciation) would convert to approximately 8.42 U.S dollars, but as a Korean-American it's always felt like 10 dollars, just because it starts with 10. There are a lot of things could buy in Korea with 10,000 won.Does Korea have any Michelin stars? ›
Seoul is home to several Michelin-starred eateries, each offering its own unique take on Korean cuisine. From traditional fares like kimchi and bibimbap to modern fusion dishes, there's something for everyone at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Seoul.Does Seoul have stars? ›
Stars are a rare sight in Seoul, but at the observatory in Nowon-gu, you can feast your eyes on a celestial buffet. Visit on Fri, Sat or Sun at 2pm to enter for free, or make a reservation ahead of time to see the spring constellations and the Moon.Which country has only 3 Michelin stars? ›
|1||France (including Monaco)||31|
Our visit to Otsu Seiromushi, famous among ARMY as the restaurant operated by BTS Jin's brother. Come inside with us and find out what the restaurant offers! Songlidan-gil, a charming alley filled with small cafes and restaurants, is one of the most popular alleys among locals in Seoul.Is there a 7 star Michelin? ›
Chef Yoshihiro Murata is the only chef in the world to hold seven Michelin stars. He is the third generation of Japanese super chefs to run the century-old Kikunoi restaurant in the Japanese city of Kyoto.Does Kai have a Michelin star? ›
1 Michelin Star - 2009 to 2022.Who owns the most Michelin star? ›
1. Joël Robuchon: 32 Michelin Stars. Many consider the late French chef Joël Robuchon the best chef of the modern age.Where do rich people live in Seoul? ›
The most expensive area in Seoul, South Korea as of November 2021 was Gangnam-gu, with an average apartment sales price of around 2.3 billion South Korean won. The Gangnam area including Gangnam-gu, Seocho-gu, Yongsan-gu, and Songpa-gu, is one of the richest neighborhoods in South Korea.
- Cheongdam-dong in Gangnam district. ...
- Apgujeong-dong in Gangnam district. ...
- Hannam-dong in Yongsan district. ...
- Seongbuk-dong in Seongbuk district.
With one, two, or up to three stars to gain, a restaurant can obtain various levels of prestige. Restaurants and chefs will consider the acquiring (and losing) of stars as defining moments of their careers.What rank is Gordon Ramsay in the world? ›
Gordon Ramsay – 7 Michelin stars.What is the highest rated restaurant in the world? ›
|2016||Osteria Francescana||El Celler de Can Roca|
|2017||Eleven Madison Park||Osteria Francescana|
|2018||Osteria Francescana||El Celler de Can Roca|
Fans of K-pop, BTS fans in particular, will be familiar with the popular show Run BTS. Cafe Camptong was used as the filming location for episodes 118 and 119. We headed over to the café to take pictures just like the members of the boy band!Who is the foodie in BTS? ›
He once shared that he ate 30 plates of sushi, and this shocked 2AM's Changmin! BTS recently played a balance game as the instrumental for “Permission to Dance” played in the background, and Jin proved that he's the true foodie in the group.Where is Jimin's dad cafe? ›
Address: B-dong, 135 Jinnam-ro, Nam-gu, Busan Operating Hours: 10:00am - 10:00pm everyday Directions: Take bus no.