10 Korean Chain Restaurants You Wish You Had in Your Country! – Seoulistic

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!

Keith Kim is a Korean-American who has been living in Korea for almost a decade. Being in a unique position as both a Korean and a non-Korean, he's put all his experience and knowledge for surviving in Korea in Survival Korean . Read it to learn how you can survive in Korea. Follow him on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.


  1. Mimsie says:

    Excellent list!! Couldn’t agree more with most of your choices… but you left off my favorite. 서래 galmaegisal. Piles of tender meat with a tasty soy-wasabi dipping sauce for less than 10,000 won!

  2. Michael says:

    Two things:

    1) What’s up with the chain restaurant that has a yellow sign and the woman’s picture on it? You know, the woman who looks like it’s her budongsan professional shot and not her giant restaurant chain.

    2) Is Saemul really tuna? Or is it pork? The sign says 7 minute pork kimchi jjigae. I have said in the past it is tuna, but I changed my mind. Now you say tuna…which one can it be? The great debate!

  3. nut says:

    I second School Food, their Soy Sauce Carbonara Ddedokbokki is to die for, especially for people like me who can’t take spicy food…
    As for Bonjuk’s pumpkin porridge, I found it too sweet for a main course. It’s a little too filling for a dessert on top of anything else though.
    Eh, I’ve tried the Naengmyeon Restaurant that gives meat (during winter!! Well they did serve hot beef udon as an alternative..) but didn’t find it that good, the meat was cold and dry and had clearly been left out for a while after cooking. But perhaps it was just that branch. Pretty affordable prices though!

  4. The only chain restaurant I’ve been to so far from this list is “The Bon Chain”. I should try others next time when I’m Korea. Soy Sauce Carbonara Ddedokbokki from School Food sounds really good!

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