We want you to eat local Korean food that Koreans eat. It’s one of the best ways to experience the culture of a people. And some of the best restaurants to do it are chain restaurants! Try these ubiquitous Korean chain restaurants and you’ll be wishing you had these in your country!
New Village Restaurant (새마을식당)
This chain local Seoulites are probably too exposed to to get excited about. But any new traveler to Korea should definitely give this place a visit if they’re looking for some gritty Korean food that can be found just about anywhere. This chain Korean restaurant has the very delicious thin beef slices called chadolbaegi (차돌백이). But more than fast cooking strips of juicy beef, one of the reasons this chain is so famous is because of its tuna filled kimchi jjigae. It’s broiled hard and that means less soup. You also slice in Korean seaweed (gim – 김) into it, mixed with rice. Basically, that just means its one of the heartiest kimchi jjigae you can find on the planet!
Shinseol Seolleongtang (신설설렁탕)
For you lovers of that hearty, milky Korean seolleongtang broth, one of the most famous Korean chain restaurants out there is Shinseol Seolleongtang. Their buttery garlic seolleongtang is one of the reasons they’re so famous. They also got some pretty monster dumplings (만두 – mandu) in servings of 3 or 5 for a decent price with that precious Korean aged jang (장). And of course no seolleong tang restaurant can become famous without an awesome kimchi. And the kimchi here isn’t for everyone. It’s that really sour and brined kimchi that can only be washed down with a nice milky bowl of seolleongtang. Mix in the kimchi into your seolleongtang and you’ve got all the flavors!
The Bon Chain (본죽, 본비빔밥, 본도시락)
The Bon chain is one of Korea’s monster chain restaurants. But they didn’t get there just because of daddy’s connections! The fairly consistently high level ingredients and nice tasting, but small portioned, side dishes are also part of the reason they’ve done so well. The fact that they can boast a chain that sells the slow-cook juk (porridge) in several different flavors (their pumpkin porridge is pretty sweet), a separate chain that sells Korea’s most representative dish (비빔밥, bibimbap), and another chain dedicated to Korean style take out lunch boxes. They’ve got to be doing something right to be popular so long!
School Food (스쿨푸드)
This Korean chain offers some funky fushion gimbap as well as some pretty spicy tteokbokki. They even got fried chicken and salad, noodles and rice dishes. It’s Korean teenager and college student food that’ll be hard to come by in other parts of the world. And even though its geared towards the young crowd, be sure that you’ll be getting adult portions to fill you up. Try their everything platter (모듬마리 – modeum mari) if you want 21 gimbap pieces of party pleasing goodness. And go for the cheese tteokbokki if you’re looking for spicy tteokbokki that sorta gets its spices canceled out by the thick cheese on top.
Jaws Tteokbokki (죠스떡볶이)
You might have Korean tteokbokki places in your home country, but do you have the consistency and deliciousness of Jaws Tteokbokki? That is the question, my friends. Jaws tteokbokki’s consistently chewy tteokbokki and never old and unstirred sauce make this one of the best tteokbokki joints in Korea. There’s also their deep fried but flaky fried snacks (튀김 – twigim). And of course no street food restaurant (분식점 – bunsikjeom) would be complete without stomach warming odeng broth. Yea, this one’s a good one.
Looking for a few good tteokbokki restaurants in Seoul? Check out our list here!