Teachers Share their Experiences While Living Abroad!

The Social Experience of Dining Out in Korea

Posted on Thu, Feb 05, 2015 @ 10:17 AM

When I came to Korea to teach English, the first thing I noticed, was the way in which the Korean people eat. I’m not talking about the fact they use chopsticks, or spoons to eat rice; I am talking about the way they order large dishes to share with each other. This is something that has transcended over to foreigners who now live here. In the beginning, I thought it was just common while eating at Korean BBQ’s to share food, however; now that I have been here for some time, I see that it is rare to see people (Foreign or Korean) ordering individual portions. This culture makes dining out in Korea that little bit more friendly. 
dining out in Korea
(Typical Korean BBQ, with side-dishes, everybody shares)

This blog will look at some of the most common (and also my favorite) dishes, people order here in Korea for sharing, from Tteokbokki to ddalk gallbi and jjimdalk to name a few.


Tteokbokki, is typically enough to share between two people, unless you get a big portion, which can feed up to four people. It's really delicious and consists of: noodles, rice cakes (like dumplings), fish cakes, kimchi (or cabbage), carrots, and is served in a slightly spicy tomato / curry sauce. This is one of the cheaper meals to eat in Korea - costing around $3 or €4 per person. Despite the cost, the taste is amazing.

Next we have ddalk galbi, pictured below, which is one of my favorites, and an easy way to fill you up when you are hungry. It consists of a two part cook process; the first is chicken, seaweed (the delicious kind that adds texture) cabbage and rice cakes, all cooked in one large pan in front of you by waiters. It is mixed with a mild or spicy sauce, (which ever you prefer). Once it's cooked you eat most of it, and then you call your waiter back over and they add rice, more sauce and seaweed, and then they cook it all again so the rice soaks up the sauce, and any leftover chicken.  It’s very filling and is ideal to share between 2 – 4 people. This is one of the more expensive dishes, although still very reasonable with each person contributing $8 or €5. (Baring in mind you get plenty of side dishes with this)

ddalk galbi

My all time favorite dish is jjimdalk, which depending on whether you order it mild or spicy will come in two different flavors. I like both, but seeing as I love spicy food, the spicy one is my first choice. It consists of sweet potato or glass noodles, chicken, potatoes, vegetables, and you can even have it with crab. To soak up the left over sauce, my friends and I order some plain rice and eat that too.  Jjimdalk is famous in Korea, however, in my City of Daegu, there is a family chain that is famous for chicken and crab jjimdalk.  The place is so good that you can often wait up-to one hour to be seated and served. 


You don’t have to dine in a restaurant to experience this Korean phenomenon. At my school, we usually always bring in food for lunch to share. In fact on the 12th of every month (after payday) we have a potluck, where everyone brings in a nice home cooked dish. This week we decided to make quesadillas (not very Korean I know, but sometimes it’s okay to eat something different). Everyone brought in a meat or vegetarian dish for the and we cooked them in our break room, using a gas stove we purchased in a local grocery store.

Of course if you don’t want to share food all the time, there are alternatives. You will find many restaurants with individual portions. Sometimes, we even go to places that don’t have big dishes and order several things off the menu to share. One of the perks teaching in Korea since it is pretty cheap to dine out, compared to America or Europe , is it is almost cheaper to eat out here than to cook.  If you plan on teaching abroad in Korea, I highly recommend participating in the social dining culture. 

Teach in Korea! John May grew up in Dublin, Ireland where he is from & went to Trinity College – one of Ireland's best known universities. He graduated from here in November 2012 with a B.A. (Mod) in Geography & Sociology. John has always had a passion for traveling having been to most of Europe, he decided to explore Asia after Uni. He had always wanted to teach and thought what

better way to travel than teaching English on the way. John is currently teaching English for CDI in Daegu, South Korea a position he found through Aclipse; and loves every minute of it!




Tags: Korean culture, food in Korea, restaurants in korea

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