Korean Food Guide: 9 Must-Try Dishes Koreans Grew Up With

Bulgogi in 9 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Korean Food

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One of the most popular Asian cuisines is Korean Cuisine. This Korean Food Guide will cover all sorts of Korean dishes including the most popular Korean foods, street food, childhood dishes and more.


Korean Food Guide, definitive guide on Korean cuisine and its popular dishes

Childhood Korean Food

These popular Korean dishes are loved by Korean kids growing up! We tried them out in Toronto’s popular Korean restaurant, Song Cook’s.

Bap (밥): Rice

Rice is the main staple and is the biggest crop produced in South Korea. It is the foundation of Korean cuisine, and a big aspect of Korean culture of family-style sharing of food over bap.

Bap (밥): Rice at Song Cook's in Toronto, Ontario

Also Read: Doma, French-inspired Korean Restaurant in Toronto

Banchan (반찬)

Literally means “Side Dishes” in Korean, Banchan are served in small portions and are meant to be finished at each meal.

Since it’s in their culture to always have people leaving full, banchan are usually refillable, even in restaurants.

The most popular Banchan that people know is cabbage kimchi (pickled cabbage).

Banchan (반찬) at Song Cook's in Toronto, Ontario

Man-doo (만두): Korean style dumplings

Usually prepared as part of Korean Lunar New Year festivities, Mandoo are considered a symbol of good luck for the coming year. It’s a very regional dish, which means major cities have their owns style of making them.

Fried Man-doo (만두): Fried Korean style dumplings at Song Cook's in Toronto, Ontario

Though dumplings are thought to be of Asian roots, historians point out that wheat based dishes like dumplings actually originated from Mesopotamia.

Mandu can be made steamed, boiled, pan-fried, or deep-fried. It can be found all over Korea now, from street vendors to supermarkets to restaurants.

Steamed Man-doo (만두): Steamed Korean style dumplings at Song Cook's in Toronto, Ontario

Also Read: Sustainable Dim Sum Event in Toronto

Jap Chae (잡채): glass noodles

Made with sweet and savoury stir-fried glass noodles, Japchae means “mix vegetables” in Korean, first introduced with only vegetables and mushrooms.

This cultural dish of Imperial descent started from the Joseon dynasty as a dish for the royal party, created by King Gwanghaegun’s liege Yi Chung.

Jap Chae (잡채): glass noodles at Song Cook's in Toronto, Ontario

Cha-Jang Myun (자장면): black bean noodles

Cha-jang myun, or Jajangmyeon, takes root from China’s noodle dish “zha jiang mien” which means “fried sauce noodles” in Chinese.

The Korean version uses black bean paste instead of the Chinese yellow soybean sauce.

Cha-Jang Myun (자장면): black bean noodles at Song Cook's in Toronto, Ontario

Tang Su Yuk (탕수육): deep fried sweet & sour pork

Another dish influenced from China, Tang Su Yuk has been adapted for Korean taste with its crispy batter and sweet jelly sauce coating.

It is one of the most common dishes for Korean kids growing up.

Bulgogi (불고기): thinly sliced marinated beef

Bulgogi literally means “fire meat” in Korean. Bul means “fire” and gogi means “meat”. It is one of Korea’s National Dishes.

Donkatsu (돈까스): Korean version of pork schnitzel

Donkatsu, or Dongaseu, is adapted from Japan’s tonkatsu, but ultimately roots back to Germany’s schnitzel which is where Japan adapted for its tonkatsu.

How donkatsu differs from the Japanese tonkatsu is that this Korean food is thinner and has a demi-glace on top.

Donkatsu (돈까스): Korean version of pork schnitzel at Song Cook's in Toronto, Ontario

Tdeukguk (떡국): rice cake soup

Tdeukguk, or Tteokguk, literally translates to rice cake soup: “Tteok” means rice cake, and “guk” means soup.

It’s traditionally eaten during Korean New Year celebrations as a symbol of good luck for the year, and it’s customary to eat this to get older.

Tdeukguk (떡국): rice cake soup at Song Cook's in Toronto, Ontario

Hope this Korean Food Guide gives you an idea on what Korean Cuisine is all about and the various dishes you can try!

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