Korea is food heaven: every city and every district has its specialties. While studying abroad, you’ll rarely eat at the same restaurant twice-not because it’s bad, but because there’s just so much to try. In this post, I will try to list as many places to eat at in Seoul so no one goes there lost-especially in the first few weeks. I’ve decided to include a few recommendations to get you on your feet and also a guide on how to find future restaurants on your own! Check out some restaurant recommendations below!
If you’re ever craving some Mexican food, Julio is a pretty good place to go. It’s located in the Garosugil area so it’s a nice place to drop by while exploring the area with its many cafes and shops! There’s also one in Hongdae.
2. We Saladu (위샐러듀)
Located in the Edae area, We Saladu is the perfect place to get a healthy meal. You’ll realize a lot of places douse their salad in dressing, but at We Saladu, you add it in yourself. Its pretty cheap at ₩8,000 a salad and the portions are big!
3. Masizzim (마시찜 타임스퀘어점)
This is a chain restaurant, but we usually go to the one in Times Square in Yeongdongpo. They offer affordable and yummy galbijjim which is sort of like pot roast (and my favorite Korean dish) in a nice and clean environment.
4. 나물 먹는 곰
A traditional setting within the hipster and modern surroundings of the Hongik University area, this restaurant is our go to place for celebrations and a warm traditional Korean meal. Their banchan is amazing and we always ask for seconds…and maybe thirds. They have a seasonal menu with dishes that fill you up just right.
5. Gwangjang Market and Myeongdong (광장 시장, 명동)
I’ll just put these two together since they’re pretty close together. Gwangjang Market fulfills all your traditional Korean street food needs like live octopus, pancakes, and rice cakes while Myeongdong is a mix of old and new creations. For street foods like cup chicken and the like, I would recommend the Edae, Sinchon, and Hongdae areas though, since the prices are cheaper AND there are less tourists.
6. 24 Hour Tofu Soup (맛있는순두부&김치찜)
Whenever its really cold or when we come back late at night, this 24 hour tofu house is the place to go. With unlimited and delicious banchan (the bean sprouts are our favorite), this cheap and comfy restaurant makes you feel right at home. It’s located really close to our dorms as well in the Sinchon area.
7. Momimomi (모미모미 홍대점)
Located at the edge of Hongdae, Momimomi is a cute Japanese restaurant that serves really yummy set meals. If it’s not to your tastes, the surrounding streets also offer lots of other unique and tasty foods.
8. BBQ place
I don’t really have a specific because we usually just go on the street, eye out one that looks like quality+price and go in but when you come to Korea, you definitely have to eat Korean BBQ right? Through the main Yonsei street in front of the school, enter one of the alleys to your right (facing away from the school) and you’ll enter the ‘meat streets’ where there are meat houses after meat houses after meat houses. Find you favorite!
9. Standby Kitchen
Feeling lazy? Just drop by Standby Kitchen, located right outside the international dorms. They offer salads and sandwiches, both of which are delicious. Next door is also a chain-store curry restaurant with pretty good offerings!
10. The Beastro (더 비이스트로)
Located right outside Hongik University, the Beastro offers amazing American brunch and dinner, just in case you’re missing home.
11. 1976 Shabu Shabu (1976 샤브샤브)
We found this place by chance while looking for ramen (which is in the next alley over but only has four seats so). A great shabu shabu place for all of you missing hot pot and the likes with all you can eat vegetables and noodles. This is our go to place when we want to stuff ourselves…we even have our designated table because #loyalcustomers. It’s located near Hapjeong!
How to find restaurants near YOU!
Korea doesn’t support Yelp so you rely on Naver, personal recommendations, and the app Mangoplate. I’ll teach you how to use Naver search here. For Mangoplate, it’s in English and easy to figure out, but there are less food options shown.
- Naturally the first step is to download the Naver app.
- To search for restaurants in your area type in ‘(area name) 맛집.’ For example, if I want to find restaurants in Sinchon (Yonsei area), I would enter ‘신촌 맛집’ into the search bar. After you search, Naver will give you lots of suggestions that you can swipe through. *맛집 is basically tasty place
- Clicking on your selection will give you opening times, prices, etc. Other than swiping, you can also click directly on the map and zoom in to where you are closest to to find more in a specific area. Alternatively you can also scroll down to the blog results where people give their reviews with lots of pictures.
- Make sure to download Naver Maps which will help you navigate to your restaurant after you have made a decision! For more specific restaurant searches you can add keywords to your search. For example for Japanese food you can add a ‘일식’ to your search.
These are just are frequented shopping areas. There’s plenty all around Seoul. Shopping is endless. Bring lots of money.
Hongdae (Hongik Univeristy; clubs and unique restaurants, cafes; young people brands like ALand and Wonderplace have large stores here; art products: every Saturday there is an artist’s fair)
Edae (Ewha Univeristy; cheap and fashionable clothing; close to Yonsei)
Times Square (located in Yeongdongpo; one of the largest malls in Korea, E-Mart)
Lotte World Mall (our favorite mall; located in Jamsil; lots of floors; lots of restaurants)
Garosugil (lots of cafes; name brands; chain stores; restaurants)
Insadong (traditional; souvenir shopping)
Myeongdong (touristy and crowded; all the stores are here; Lotte Department Store)
Common Ground (art place, hipster)