If you like to try different kinds of food and enjoy Asian food in particular, you’ll have a wonderful time in Korea. Perhaps you’re dining out with Korean family or friends closer to home. Either way - imagine the satisfaction of being able to order in a restaurant in Korean.
Are you vegetarian? Need more rice? Ready for the bill? No problem!
This Rocket Korean lesson will teach you the basics so you can get the most out of your experience, and impress your companions! Listen to the audio and practice saying these Korean words and phrases aloud. When you’re ready, why not try them out on the staff at a local Korean restaurant?
Resources for further reading:
Did You Know?
Korea has its own dining etiquette, which may seem unique to Westerners. For example, it is perfectly acceptable and even considered appreciative of the meal to make slurping sounds when eating. On the other hand, beware of sticking your chopsticks upright into the rice – as this is considered a sign of death!
You can eat well in Korea on any budget. Street stalls sell freshly made cheap ganshik (snacks); small family-run restaurants offer full meals and side dishes, called banchan for just a few dollars.
Well, I’m starving! Bae gopayo! Can you recommend a good restaurant?
Here are some common types of eating and drinking establishments in South Korea.
Rocket Record lets you perfect your Korean pronunciation. Just listen to the native speaker audio and then use the microphone icon to record yourself. Once you’re done, you’ll get a score out of 100 on your pronunciation and can listen to your own audio playback. (Use a headset mic for best results.) Problems? Click here!
Restaurants serving Koreanized Western-style food
Restaurants specializing in Korean-style food.
Chinese restaurants, popular in Korea and cheap
Fast-food restaurants, reasonably priced for young people
Café-style shops where coffee, tea, and soft drinks are served
Bars or drinking houses
Bar where drinks and snacks are served
Beer hall. Some offer live entertainment.
In traditional Korean restaurants you may find low tables and bangsuk (a floor cushion). You may want to make sure your socks don’t have any holes, as you’re required to remove your shoes in these restaurants!
When you’re ready to order, call for the waiter or waitress by saying Yugiyo.
Waiter! / Waitress!
The waiter or waitress will attend you politely and may ask one of the following questions…
Would you like to order?
Maw ga joeulkgayo?
What would you like?
뭐 드시고 싶으세요?
Maw deushigo shipeuseyo?
What would you like to eat?
Sometimes all they may ask is…
You could answer by saying one of these phrases…
I'll have this.
Or, if you’re unsure what a certain dish is, you can ask…
What is this?
이게 뭔지 말해 주실래요?
Eege mawnji malhae jooshilaeyo?
Can you tell me what this is?
Not sure what you feel like eating? Just ask the waiter what he recommends…
세트 메뉴 있어요?
Seteu menyoo itsuyo?
Do you have a set menu?
오늘 추천 메뉴는 뭐에요?
Oneul choochun menyoo neun mawyeyo?
What is the dish of the day?
이집 제일 잘하는 요리가 뭐에요?
Eejip jeil jalhaneun yoriga mawyeyo?
What is the specialty of the house?
The majority of restaurants don’t indicate vegetarian food but there are always some dishes for vegetarians on the menu. Don’t hesitate to ask!
Jun chaeshik jooeuija yeyo.
I am a vegetarian.
전 고기를 안 먹어요.
Jun gogi reul an muguyo.
I don't eat meat.
Chaeshik menyoo itsuyo?
Do you have any vegetarian dishes?
어느 음식이 고기 안 들어간건가요?
Uneu eumshik ee gogi an deurugan gungayo?
Which dishes have no meat?
Side dish made of pickled, preserved vegetables. Hot and spicy.
Side dish made of seasoned vegetables (fresh/dried), herbs, and roots.
Dishes of seasoned broiled fish
Dumplings made of meat, vegetables and soybean curd
Soup is always part of a traditional Korean meal. It can be served as a main dish, or if a small portion of light soup, it is served simultaneously with the rest of the dishes.
Ginseng chicken soup
Soybean paste soup
Bap (rice) is served separately in an individual bowl. Korean bap is slightly sticky, and is the most important part of the meal. Koreans add various ingredients to it like barley, millet, peas and beans.
Rice topped with parboiled fern bracken, bluebell root, soybean sprouts, spinach, and fried egg, mixed with red pepper sauce.
Rice with red-beans
Rice cooked with bean sprouts
It is not easy to find vegetarian choices in Korea – as its food culture is based primarily on meat dishes. Here’s a list of the most common types of meat:
Barbecued beef dishes
Chicken stewed with vegetables and soy sauce.
In order to get the dish you want simply say…
[...] 로 할게요.
[…] ro halaeyo.
I'd like a(n)…
Once you’ve finished your meal you‘ll need to ask for the bill…
The bill, please.
A service charge of 10% is normally added to the restaurant bill. Tipping is optional but appreciated. Lastly, if your meal was satisfying, you may want to thank the waiter or waitress.
아주 잘 먹었어요.
Ajoo jal mugutsuyo.
That was a very good meal.
That’s all for this lesson, enjoy your next Korean meal!
Here are a few recommended Korean lessonsto try next!
Anyoung hee gaseyo!
Sujung Lee: Rocket Korean
Reinforce your learning from this lesson with the Rocket Reinforcement activities!