The Not-So Starving Student—Korean Restaurant Experience

The Not-So Starving Student—Korean Restaurant Experience

If you’re reading this, you must be an adventurer.  You must be craving for something to awaken the taste buds and carry you on a journey.  And sampling Korean food is an adventurous journey that comes in many little steps, with small portion sizes that each hold a unique flavor.  Unlike the feeling of gulping down a Big Mac, each bite is to be savored and, more importantly, shared with friends and family.  For those who have experienced the excitement of Korean cuisine, you’re familiar with the etiquette, the aromas, and the enriching experience of a dynamic culture and the history in each dish.  For those who hope to learn more as a beginner foodie, sit tight for a preview of what you’ll experience.

Ambience: Korean restaurants’ ambience can range anywhere from a Western “hipster” style decor to something more traditional.  Some truly authentic Korean restaurants don’t have much decor or ambience at all, in which case you might not bring your boss there, but certainly you would cherish the unapologetically delicious selection of Korean dishes.

Etiquette: Unlike going to your average restaurants with friends and family, where everyone might order an appetizer and then proceed to order an individual item for themselves, Koreans, not unlike other Asian cultures, enjoy sharing their food from appetizer to dessert.  Using an individual bowl, scoop out a spoonful (or two) for yourself.  It is often considered impolite to enjoy a whole meal without offering to share.  Korean restaurants also feature stainless steel cutlery and bowls.  Historically, the royal family used silver chopsticks as a means of detecting poison in their food—the silver would change color when in contact with certain chemicals.  Since then, average citizens took after the royal family using metal chopsticks as a status symbol.  Forks are often not offered at Korean restaurants, although they may be requested.

Side dishes: Prior to serving the appetizer and entree, a few small dishes of sides, typically consisting of Kimchi (spicy pickled cabbage), pickled Daikon or glass noodle salad will be made available.  Often, these can be refilled free of charge if the guests empty the dish.

Common dishes: What should you order at a Korean restaurant? Here are some common dishes in pictures.

  1. Ddeokbokki on the left, with an assortment of sides above.

    Ddeokbokki – these popular appetizers are made of chewy rice stick, fish tofu and cabbage coated in a delicious spicy sauce.

  2. Bibimbap – A colorful rice bowl with veggies and fried egg on top make a nutritionally balanced meal for many Koreans.  The veggies and protein are typically stir fried to give it a fresh crispy finish.
  3. Our dishes were at the top, left is the Bulgogi, right is the Bibimbap.

    Bulgogi – Unlike other stir fried beef you’ve had, bulgogi beef is tender, chewy and coated in a layer of sweet, savory sauce.  This dish is a favorite entree and goes well with a side of rice.

  4. Kalbi – Korean short-ribs are the best asian barbecue item you’ll ever have.  They are chewy, and full of flavor and certainly not your average barbecue ribs.
  5. The appropriately named stone bowl soup. Note the bowl

    Stone bowl soup – If you’re wish to try a truly authentic, traditional dish, stone bowl soup is it.  Unlike soup, stone bowl soup is more like a stew with assortment of ingredients.  It comes in a traditional stone bowl that tenderizes the food and keeps the food warm.

  6. KFC – the good kind.

    Korean fried chicken – I’ve blogged about these before and can’t stop blogging about them.  The sauce takes this fried chicken dish to the next level

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