What I Ate in Korea

Spoiler: lots of kimchi and rice

Many people have asked me about the food in Korea. I’ve liked Korean food ever since I first tried bulgogi over 10 years ago. When I visited Korea, I was excited to try everything – even food that I wasn’t familiar with before. Rice and kimchi and offered with nearly every meal and are served with vegetables and beef. Popular dishes include bibimbap and lettuce raps with rice and meat on the inside. For most of my trip, I stayed on an island and was served several seafood dishes and sides. Since Korea is a peninsula, fish was the main course for my meals. Large fish would be chopped up for a table to share, or I would pick from several small side dishes of fish cakes and sardines. At first, I was wary of eating seafood breakfast but learned that this is the norm for native Koreans, especially for those who live on one of Korea’s Islands. 

This is a typical lunch at Jindo National Gugak Center. I had several chilled soups over the course of my 10-day stay. My favorite was the cold cucumber soup (pictured above).


Unlike western cuisine, traditional Korean food has more spices and seasonings and a more  distinct scent. When I go food shopping at H Mart in New Jersey, I love walking in and smelling marinated meat. Not exclusive for meats, flavor can be added to any Korean meal using pastes and sesame oil. 

It always amazed me how the small side dishes seemed to never run out! Everyone continues to pick at them, yet at least a quarter of each dish remained at the end of each meal. There was some fried food but most was fresh. 

My favorite meal was this particular bibimbap dish from, surprisingly, a rest stop! I’ve had countless bibimbap bowls over my life (both homemade and ones from Princeton), but I found this meal to be the most refreshing and filling. It came with a small seaweed pack to put on top along with some kimchi. 

Last but not least: snacks! I missed my trail mix overseas enjoyed eating the savory treats and looking at the cute packaging. 

Writing this post makes me miss eating Korean cuisine on a daily basis! In all honesty, I became sick of kimchi everyday, but looking back now, I took for granted its freshness and health benefits. Unfortunately, there isn’t a Korean restaurant on my campus, so I jump on every opportunity to eat Korean food when I’m on break!


With style,