The districts called Cheongdam and Sinsa are among the best for people-watching and fine dining, but the best Korean food is often served in small, inexpensive restaurants that can be found in every neighbourhood.
Don’t be afraid to venture into such simple, local eating places: the smaller restaurants are usually family owned, the food is very good and the people friendly. If the floor is raised this is usually a sign that footwear should be removed before entering – observe what other people are doing. There is usually no tax added to meals in these restaurants and tipping is not expected.
Cutlery is kept in a box on the table. Meals are accompanied by 3 or more side dishes (panchan) – the side dishes will be refilled at no charge if you wish for more. The food generally comes all at once. The server will usually come for your order within seconds of your sitting down and the food will arrive within a few minutes. Koreans eat quickly but you are unlikely to feel pressured if you sit longer.
You pay the bill at the till, although sometimes you’ll be asked to pay before or when the food arrives.
Western and other ethnic restaurants are also growing in number and improving in quality.
Some recommended places
Kahoe-dong is the beautiful neighbourhood where the traditional yangban (aristocrats) used to live. Their residences are now national heritage sites and the area offers interesting food options.
"Chosun Hotel" is famous for its exquisite cuisines from all over the world but is pricey. A small but excellent sushi restaurant – “Bon Sushi “ - can be found on the way from the Chosun Hotel (ask there for directions) to the Lotte Shopping Young Plaza.
It’s hard to find real vegetarian food in Korean restaurants since a little fish is often added even to vegetable dishes. Vegan and vegetarian restaurants can be found through the following site:
One highly recommended vegetarian restaurant is “Sanchon”; address: in an alley off Insa-dong, Anguk Station (Line 3), Exit 6.
Here’s a list of Seoul’s most recommended bars: