Korean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular all around the world. If you're planning to visit a Korean restaurant or ordering from a Korean menu, it's important to know some basic Korean food terms. Not only will this help you to read the menu and order your food, but it will also enable you to communicate better with the staff and appreciate the culture behind the cuisine.
Common Korean Food Terms
Korean cuisine is famous for its unique dishes and flavors. Here are some common Korean food terms that you might encounter:
Banchan (반찬) - A variety of small dishes that are served with rice and the main course. It includes kimchi, pickled vegetables, seaweed, and more.
Bulgogi (불고기) - A popular Korean dish made with marinated grilled beef.
Bibimbap (비빔밥) - A rice bowl dish with mixed vegetables, meat, and egg.
Japchae (잡채) - A stir-fried noodle dish made with sweet potato starch noodles and vegetables.
Kimchi (김치) - A spicy, fermented vegetable side dish that is a staple in Korean cuisine.
Galbi (갈비) - Grilled beef or pork ribs that are marinated in a sweet and savory sauce.
Jjigae (찌개) - A Korean-style stew that is usually served with rice.
When you're ready to order, you can say "주문할게요" which means "I will order". Here are some useful phrases to help you order:
"한국 음식을 먹고 싶어요" - "I want to eat Korean food."
메뉴판 주세요 This means "Please give me the menu" and is a polite way to ask for the menu.
이거 주세요 - This means "Please give me this" and is a simple way to order a specific item on the menu.
이것 빼고 주세요 - This means "Please give me everything except for this" and is a way to customize your order.
이거 더 주세요 - This means "Please give me more of this" and is a way to request additional servings of a particular dish.
매운 음식 좀 덜 매운 걸로 주세요 - This means "Please make the spicy food less spicy" and is a way to request a milder version of a spicy dish.
계산할게요 - This means "I will pay" and is a polite way to signal that you're ready to pay for your meal.
"불고기를 주세요" - "Please give me bulgogi."
"비빔밥 한 그릇 주세요" - "Please give me a bowl of bibimbap."
Paying the Bill
After you finish your meal, you can ask for the bill by saying "계산할게요" . Here are some additional phrases to help you pay:
"카드로 계산할게요" - "I will pay with a card."
"현금으로 계산할게요" - "I will pay with cash."
Phrases to show your appreciation for the food:
맛있어요 This means "it's delicious" and is a general expression of appreciation for the taste of the food.
정말 맛있어요- This means "it's really delicious" and emphasizes how much you enjoyed the food.
진짜 맛있어요 - This is similar to the previous phrase and means "it's really delicious" or "it's seriously good."
너무 맛있어요 - This means "it's so delicious" and is another way to express how much you enjoyed the food.
맛있게 잘 먹었습니다 - This phrase means "I ate well deliciously" and is a polite way to express your appreciation to the chef or restaurant staff for the delicious meal.
감사합니다 - This means "thank you" and can be used to express your gratitude for the meal and the service.
맛있는 음식 감사합니다 - This means "thank you for the delicious food" and is another way to express your appreciation for the meal.
Types of Korean Restaurants
Korean cuisine has a wide variety of dishes and styles of cooking. Here are some types of Korean restaurants you might come across:
Korean BBQ restaurants are one of the most popular types of Korean restaurants. In these restaurants, you'll find a grill in the center of the table, where you can cook your own meat. Some popular BBQ meats include beef, pork, and chicken.
Fried Chicken Restaurants
Korean fried chicken has become increasingly popular all around the world. These restaurants specialize in crispy and flavorful fried chicken, often served with a variety of sauces.
Korean noodles come in many different varieties, including sweet potato starch noodles, buckwheat noodles, and more. Noodle restaurants specialize in these dishes, often served in a hot and flavorful broth.
Street Food Stalls
If you're looking for a quick and cheap bite to eat, you might want to try some Korean street food. You'll find a variety of snacks and small dishes, such as tteokbokki (떡볶이) (spicy rice cakes), kimbap (김밥) (Korean sushi rolls), and hotteok (호떡) (sweet pancakes).
Korean Dining Etiquette
Understanding Korean dining etiquette can help you to enjoy your meal and show respect for the culture. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Remove your shoes - In many Korean restaurants, you'll need to remove your shoes before entering. Look for a shoe rack near the entrance and place your shoes there.
Use chopsticks and spoons - Korean cuisine is typically eaten with chopsticks and spoons. It's considered impolite to use your hands or a fork.
Don't stick your chopsticks in your rice - Sticking chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice is considered bad luck and reminiscent of funerals.
Wait for the oldest person to start eating - In Korean culture, it's polite to wait for the oldest person at the table to start eating before you begin.
Cover your mouth when drinking - It's considered impolite to drink without covering your mouth with your hand.
Korean cuisine is full of delicious and unique dishes that are worth exploring. By learning some basic Korean restaurant vocabulary, understanding the different types of Korean restaurants, and following Korean dining etiquette, you can have a more enjoyable and authentic dining experience. So, next time you're looking for a new cuisine to try, give Korean food a chance!