Y our eating habits speak volumes about who you are. We asked Noah and Marie for more pointers on how to make a good impression while dining in Korea. If you haven’t read Part 1 of this story (where we touched on general behavior in Korea), please go ahead and do so first
Must-try Korean dishes
Bu-dae-jji-gae (부대찌개) is a favourite among tourists, especially Japanese and Chinese. This thick, stew-like soup contains a mishmash of instant ramen noodles, sliced cheese, beef, sausages, baked beans and onions. It’s best enjoyed on a rainy day.
Tteok-bokki (떡볶이), rice cake in spicy sweet sauce, is loved by children. The chewy texture of the rice cakes goes well with the sweet sauce, and this snack can be purchased from street vendors.
Ssam-gye-tang (삼계탕), is a chicken stuffed with glutinous rice, and boiled in a rich broth of Korean ginseng, jujube fruits (red dates) and ginger. It’s good for your health, and there are different recipes for men and women.
Half-and-half Korean fried chicken is the perfect accompaniment to beer. Half the portion is fried chicken (프라이드치킨) and the other half, called Yang-nyom chicken (양념치킨), is coated in sweet chilli sauce and sesame seeds.
For the adventurous eater, you can try Sseng-nakji (생낙지), raw octopus that’s served to you live, chopped and still squirming.
Refilling your banchan
Banchan, the small side dishes that are served along with your meals, are refillable upon your request, for as many times as you like. (Emmagem’s experience: In Malaysia, some restaurants charge for refills, or in some cases, the waiters pretend not to hear you.)
When dining with Korean elders
Allow the elders to sit down first before you take a seat. Always let them start eating first, and eat/take whatever is offered to you. It’s considered impolite to leave the table before everyone else, unless you have something important to do, whereby you excuse yourself. When eating, try to eat at the same pace as everyone else, and don’t hold the bowl of soup or rice (as is customary in other Asian countries).
On paying for the meal
Koreans love to pay the bill as a treat for someone, so it’s quite rare to see people going dutch. Usually the mentality is ‘you buy this round, and I’ll buy the next’.
Useful phrases to know
Bill: Kye-san-choo-se-yo (계산주세요)
Refill: while pointing to/lifting what you want to refill, say Ee-goh-toh-choo-se-yo (이거더주세요). If you want ONE more (e.g. one more bottle of coke, say Ee-goh-HANA-toh-choo-se-yo).
Thank you, I ate well: Chal-mok-goss-sum-nee-da (잘먹었습니다)
Now you’re better-equipped with skills to embrace the Korean wave! Happy Holidays!
(Photos: blog.naver.com, gobizkorea.com, koreainsider.com, rsskuld.egloos.com , vegasandfood.blogspot.com, wikipedia.org)
Noah and Marie met by chance while being late for the same Japanese class at university. Happily married for a year and a half now, they currently live in KL with their dog, Ellington. As die-hard outdoor junkies, they love road trips, camping, cycling and talking walks in the park.