Skiing in South Korea: Korean Food

(Last Updated On: March 28, 2015)

When people ask us about our trip to Korea, I usually respond with something along the lines of “The skiing was pretty fun, but that trip was about the experience and the culture as much as the skiing”. I love skiing more than just about anything, but travel is probably right behind skiing on my list. A big part of travel is experiencing the culture, and a big part of experiencing a culture is eating the local food. I think that’s why Anthony Bourdain has been so successful with his TV shows- the travel and the food are almost interchangeable. [As an aside, replacing Bourdain would have to be my dream job- getting paid a lot of money to travel and eat good food while being snarky and cynical would fit me perfectly]. So, what did I think of Korean Food?

Korean Food at YongPyong, Korea
Sitting on the floor is common at traditional Korean restaurants

I should start off by saying that my favorite type of food is Asian. Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese- I will take any of them over a slice of pizza or a burger any day of the week. Korean food isn’t as popular in America as the other countries I just mentioned, but I did go to Korea with at least a little knowledge of Korean food, in large part because my brother-in-law was born in Korea. I should also say that while I was a picky eater growing up, I’m not one anymore. Pointing at a picture on a menu, with no idea whatsoever what it is, just doesn’t scare me. Knowing the modern-day Korean’s obsession with education, I assumed that there would be plenty of English spoken in Pyeongchang. I was wrong. So, we really did order food at times without a clue of what we were ordering. That led to, as an example, a soup which we later found to be blood sausage (it was tasty).

I’ll start with one of my favorites, bibim guksu, which was a cold, spicy buckwheat noodle salad that is traditionally a summertime dish. Koreans are big fans of scissors, and in this case it was used to break up the long noodles.
Korean food- bibim guksu

A common menu item is kim chi jeon, which is a Korean pancake with kim chi. If you haven’t had kim chi, it is Korea’s signature dish, a spicy fermented cabbage which is served with nearly everything. A small bowl of kim chi is on the left side of this photo:
kim chi jeon korean food

We had another pancake variety made with seafood and scallions instead of kim chi:
Korean Pancake (seafood variety)

And then there is Korean BBQ, which does have a bit of a following in the United States and can be found in any large city. At “Self” BBQ in YongPyong, we were a bit confused at the “menu”:

We picked our cuts of beef and then the side dishes arrived along with the hot coals at our table:
Korean BBQ in YongPyong

As you can probably tell, you cook your own meat at most Korean BBQ restaurants. In the photo below, from left to right, is Korean coleslaw, the most delicious onion marinade of all time, jalapenos, rice in the metal bowl, pickled Daikon radishes, and of course, kim chi. Not pictured were lettuce leaves and spicy bean paste. Generally, we would take a piece of lettuce, add bean paste and other ingredients to the meat, and make lettuce wraps.
typical Korean BBQ side dishes

So good:

We went to another BBQ restaurant that served pork. Typically, Korean restaurants will be one or the other. They were both exceptionally good.

Korea’s national drink is soju, a high octane drink that’s somewhat harsh and the reason every convenience store had plenty of hangover remedies. My favorite brand, because it made me laugh, was “happy water”. More flavorful in our opinion was Korean rice wine, which is vaguely similar to Japanese sake, though better in Brittany’s opinion.
Korean rice wine

Last but not least is bi bim bap, a dish that my sister told me I had to have. There are many different varieties, the one shown below had raw steak on top but it cooked a fair bit in the broth, in a way vaguely similar to Vietnamese pho.
bi bim bap

We didn’t take photos of everything, nor would we try to talk about all of them here. Lunches at the ski area were pretty easy- if you’re at Yongpyong I would suggest the pork cutlet with gravy- and share it with two people. Hot dogs were popular as well, and cheap. While I can’t put Korean food at the top of the list among Asian cuisines, it’s still up there. It’s certainly unique, with many dishes and ingredients either fermented or pickled. Hopefully this post inspired some of you to try a Korean restaurant, if not visit Korea. If you’ve already sampled Korean food, what’s your favorite?

Skiing in South Korea Series

If you liked this post, please take a look at the other posts in this series:
YongPyong Part 1
2018 Winter Olympics Preview
A Cultural Look at YongPyong Amenities
Korean Food
Night Skiing and a Night on the Town
Enjoying Sunny Days at YongPyong

Anyone actually used one of these while travelling? Do they actually work?

Frank Konsella

Frank loves snow more than anything... except his wife.  He ensures his food is digested properly by chewing it 32 times before swallowing.He is a full-time real estate agent serving Crested Butte and Gunnison and would be honored to send you his monthly newsletter.

Latest posts by Frank Konsella (see all)

Frank Konsella

Frank loves snow more than anything... except his wife.    He ensures his food is digested properly by chewing it 32 times before swallowing. He is a full-time real estate agent serving Crested Butte and Gunnison and would be honored to send you his monthly newsletter.

6 thoughts on “Skiing in South Korea: Korean Food

  • March 23, 2015 at 1:49 am

    I had read the previous two posts, which I really enjoyed reading, and thought how can you do that? How can you go to Korea and not mention the food! So I have really enjoyed this post and also seeing the photos of all of you enjoying the food. My favorite Korean dish is bi bim bap. I especially like the hot stone dish it is served in. Did you try Hite beer? I think it tastes very similar to Coors!

  • March 23, 2015 at 7:54 am

    Hi Dave, glad you enjoyed our food post- w had to split things up somehow! We did have Hite beer on one occasion, it was probably the best one, and I can see the Coors comparison. Generally I’m not sure how impressed we were with the beer, most of it tasted like cheap American beer.

  • March 24, 2015 at 10:04 am

    Very cool. We’ll have you guys over for Bibimbap sometime. Heather’s mom is Korean and has some great kimchi. Korean food is great, a bit light so you end up hungry soon after but as a vegetarian it hits the spot!

  • March 24, 2015 at 11:05 am

    Glad you are enjoying our posts Dave! I would say that one of my favorite dishes is certainly bi bim bap!

  • March 24, 2015 at 11:06 am

    Would love to experience some of your homemade Korean food Colin! Can’t say I’m a huge fan of kimchi. I mean, it’s edible, but I certainly don’t crave it. I like a lot of the other food though!

  • March 24, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    Kim Chi is definitely an acquired taste, but I got into it, Colin.

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