Discovering Local Cuisine: Must Eat Local Food in Seoul
Geographically placed in East Asia, Seoul forms the Capital City of South Korea and the largest city in the country. Some analysts have in fact suggested that Seoul is the biggest city in the world. The South Korea capital city pride of several things that include breathtaking hiking opportunities in Mt. Bukhan. Seoul has also been described as the epicenter of culture. These factors and much more make Seoul undoubtedly one of the best beautiful places in the world.
Did you also know that South Korean’s social life revolves around eating? Their dining culture is also one of the richest and most diverse that incorporates a handful of spicing, copious garlic and even raw meat. Do not, therefore, get surprised to find a city packed with restaurants. Instead, this is an advantage because you will need not travel far to get that local dish you are craving for. In the streets of Seoul, one is also likely to notice tented vendor cars, locally referred to as pojangmancha, selling Seoul’s local dishes.
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Any travel enthusiast can agree that food choice is one of the challenging factors in any vacation or tour. Although, as a foreigner, you may choose to dine in international cuisines, it is more fun when you go to a new place and try out their local foods.
Seoul foods are famous world over and are considered delicious, heavily salted and spicy. If you are one who is limited to salt and spices used, you may not enjoy most of Seoul’s local dishes.
Must Eat Local Food in Seoul
It is ideally a popular dish that is served as a side dish in Seoul’s cuisine. The traditional dish is fermented and consists of vegetables and a variety of seasonings. Kimchi is of several varieties, well over 180 varieties, that are classified according to their main ingredients or seasons. Specifically, the Kimchi Field Museum located in Seoul has recorded that there are well about 187 kimchi varieties.
The common vegetables used in kimchi are scallion, radish, cucumber, and napa cabbage. The ingredients inform the kind of kimchi. For instance, there is radish kimchi, napa cabbage kimchi, and cucumber kimchi.
Kimchi is carefully prepared with some of its varieties being fermented for up to several months. While Kimchi is a spicy dish, there are varieties that are less spicy such as napa cabbage. Napa cabbage is also used to make Baechuguk; that is Napa cabbage soup.
Considered as the main dish, it is a meal that consists of rice and as the main dish. It a wide category of Korean food and consists of many kinds of soup varieties. Seonji Gukbap and Soondae Gukbap are on the typical of the dish types. It is mainly served in an earthen pot that keeps boiling.
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This is one of the fascinating local Seoul foods. For the faint-hearted visitors, this might not be the best local delicacy to start with. The dish is made of live baby octopus and served in chopped raw pieces. When eating the meal, the octopus’ pieces are dipped in sesame oil and then chewed. They should be thoroughly chewed so as not to cause choking.
If you are familiar with the Japanese culinary, then you must know the Maki sushi. The kimbap may be said to be the version of the maki sushi. Although it does not look as so, Kimbap is most commonly sold in the streets sold, and many of the restaurants in Seoul do not have the dish on their menu.
Most visitors will find this delicacy disgusting at first sight but is actually one of the tastiest local dishes. The main ingredients used are glutinous rice, pig blood, and dangmyeon.
A very typical dish in Seoul’s and the larger South Korea. The dish is made of rice cake, anchovies with the head and intestines removed and fish cake. The dish is particularly tasty when dried anchovies have been used. So when ordering for Teokbokki, do not forget to ask whether they have used anchovies.
Of course, the list of local soul food cannot be complete without mention of dumplings. Borrowed from the Chinese culinary, Mandu is Korea’s version of Dumplings. As you may know, Chinese dumplings do not use tofu. Mandu, on the other hand, uses tofu. The mandu is filled with minced meat, mainly pork or a mixture of pork and beef. The main ingredients used to make the dish, therefore, are mandu, ground pork or the mixture of pork and beef and tofu.
Things to Remember When Dining in Seoul
For the first-timers, the first assignment before indulging Seoul’s local cuisine is to learn to use chopsticks. Whereas chopsticks are not used in all meals, they are used in the majority of the dishes. Notably, South Koreas use metal chopsticks, mainly of stainless steel. This may prove hard to use for visitors. However, you may request for the wooden chopsticks as they are much easier to use.
One of the common features of Seoul’s local cuisine is that there is a liking to using certain ingredients. Another aspect one can notice is that the foods contain one of the healthiest ingredients; white meat, vegetables, soups, and rice.
A few eating mannerisms may be considered rude and inappropriate when dining the local cuisine. For instance, even if you are a first-timer in Seoul, you have no excuse to stick your chopsticks in your rice. According to the Korean culture, people stick the incense sticks upright in a bowl of sand during a burial. Sticking chopsticks on rice will, therefore, remind them of a funeral.
Finally, the drinking culture of the Koreans is also substantially intertwined with their eating. After eating their local foods, the locals will ask for a bottle of beer. The drinking culture of the Koreas is deeply rooted, and the locals are exceptionally generous to buy drinks for each other. In this regard, it is considered rude to refuse a drink that has been offered to you. The local foods are available at a fair price and will be served with side dishes.