My favorite Korean foods

My friend SG asked me for recommendations of good Korean dishes. I started to write her back but soon found my response was turning into a blog post. So, SG, here you go! Enjoy.

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I’m not Korean but I’ve had a lot of exposure to Korean food over the years. The first time was in college, the standard bibimbop. I moved onto tukbokki, which was so spicy, I had to ingest an entire pitcher of water in order to get any of the rice cakes down.

By now I’ve honed my menu down to a handful of favorites:

chajangmyun, noodles with black bean sauce
I blog about this dish a lot. I really like it though it’s quite salty and does a number on my digestive system. (TMI, I know.)

bulgogi, barbecue beef & galbi, barbecue short ribs
Both are delish but you have to cook them yourself in the restaurant, which I guess can be fun, or it can be a pain in the ass if you’re lazy like me.

soondooboochigae, spicy tofu/seafood soup
This is the best over white rice. In fact, it’s my favorite Korean dish, neck and neck with chajangmyun.

pajeon, pancake with or without seafood
Reminiscent of Chinese scallion pancakes, except flatter and not as dense. Good in combination with spicy soondooboochigae (say that three times fast).

Another thing I like about Korean food is that you never know what little side dishes you’re going to get. Kimchi is the norm, but I like kak-tu-ki, or what I call “radish kimchi,” even more.

There are several other dishes I like occasionally – any kind of tang, or soup (the same word in Mandarin, incidentally), or chigae, or stew, though not stew like Irish lamb stew (which, by the way, YUM) but more like a hearty soup – but the ones above are definitely my faves.

The only thing I don’t really like are mandu, or dumplings, maybe because I always compare them to their heartier Chinese cousins.

Now that I’ve totally put myself in the mood for soondooboochigae and pajeon, looks like another trip to Little Seoul is imminent.


  1. Though I quite like bibimbop and a touch of bulgogi, my favourite Korean dish is Chap Chae, the stir-fried potato vermicelli with julienned zucchini, mushrooms, and cabbage. Yum yum yum.

  2. Thanks for the info Anna! Glad I could help you with a topic for today’s entry. Now I’m hungry too.

    This is nuts, but I did a quick search of Korean restaurants in DC and of the 15 listed there’s only one actually IN the city. ONE! Most are in the suburbs… I hope the one in the city is good, or I’ll be taking a field trip out of the city just for food…scary!

  3. Yum! I love when you talk about food. :)

    In addition to that, I do like the Korean tofu places around here (but don’t go enough to remember any names of dishes).

  4. My mouth is watering. I have had the pajeon. Also some dish I can’t remember but it is rice based with stir fry vegetables and some beef. Awesome. I feel a visit to the local Korean restaurant is necessary in the future.

  5. wyn: my friend ES also loves chap chae.

    camclark: wow, one korean restaurant in a big city is pretty sad.

    pandax: thanks! apparently i love when i talk about food too. the number of my food posts are second only to weekend posts.

    r42k: stirfried beef and veggies sounds good! now *my* mouth is watering.

  6. ooo, i’ve just started going to korean restaurants, and i get really lost with the menu. this will be a great place to start! i LOVE bulgogi

    oh, and chajangmyun is really close to its mandarin name too (cha jang mian). i wonder if it was a phonetic “translation” from mandarin to korean?

  7. I have now written down this list for lunch tomorrow :) Thanks!!!