Earlier this year we were lucky to travel to Seoul, South Korea. Having passed through Incheon International airport several times en route to Dubai over the years, we decided this time would be different.
We’d finally leave the airport and finally spend 10 days exploring the city of Seoul.
With little knowledge of the country (apart from the Korean bbq and kimchi we’ve grown accustomed to in Hawaii), it took us about 3 days to get comfortable and get the hang of traveling around by taxi, train, and of course, walking.
By the end we were exploring small neighborhoods, dining with locals, watching a whole lot of K-pop on TV…and not wanting to leave!
I cannot believe we waited this long to visit! South Korea did a great job at satisfying our appetites and culinary curiosities- everything is full of flavor and not always spicy (as assumed since it is the home of kimchiu).
It is also very kid-friendly, people are generally polite and helpful (though many speak very little English) and there’s so much to see and explore. But for now, I want to share our amazing list of “must-try”, kid-friendly food in South Korea.
10 MUST TRY Kid-Friendly Foods From South Korea
The Pintsize Gourmets’ guide to kid-friendly Korean cuisine that you must try when in South Korea!
Gogi-Gui (Korean BBQ)
Gogi-gui in Korean can be translated to mean meat roast and is a popular way to grill your own barbecue meat (beef, chicken, pork). This is one of our favorite Korean meals as a family when we eat out at a Korean restaurant because it’s fun for the little ones to learn how to cook up their own meat. Restaurants usually have a gas or charcoal grill built into the dinner table, or if not, then we’ve also grilled our meat on portable stoves.
Bindae-tteok is a fried #Korean style pancake and snack that is made from mung beans, green onions, peppers, and kimchi. Other than vegetables, you can often find the pancake stuffed with seafood (haemul) or meat (gogi) such as pork or beef. If you’re looking for street-food, this is it! We first tried it when exploring Gwangjan Market in Seoul. When you walk through the market you will notice and smell the vendors preparing and cooking this tasty snack in oil. They cost approximately 4,000-5,000 won ($3.50-$4) each.
Korean Scallion Pancakes
This simple kid- friendly dish is called as Pajeon in Korean. The pancakes are very delicate – crispy on the outer side and very soft and delicious on the inside. The filling is made of green onions/scallions as well as a mix of a wide range of other ingredients as well – different veggies, or if you prefer some heat, kimchi can be added to the batter. The dish can be also used as a side dish or as an appetizer.
Mandu are the Korean version of dumplings or pot stickers by some. Just like the potstickers we eat, Mandu (also spelled Mandoo) are stuffed with any kind of meat – beef, chicken, seafood, or pork. There are plenty of vegetarian options as well. They can be steamed, boiled, pan-fried or deep-fried depending on your preference.
Traditional Korean Rice Cakes & Tea
A traditional Korean rice cake & tea platter consists of Jujube Tea, made from the jujube or red date, mild spices like cinnamon, and ginger. The tea is great for digestion, sleeping, and is a popular staple in most Korean households. We also got to try a steamed Pumpkin Cake or Hobaktteok in Korean. Korean rice cakes like Hobak tteok are made out with non-glutinous rice powder and steamed pumpkin. They are unique to the country, and are soft and chewy – tastes and textures that my kid-foodies love!
Bibimbap is a super-popular Korean dish, especially in America, that’s made of a bowl of rice, sautéed and seasoned vegetables, gochujang or Korean pepper paste, and a bit of seasoned raw beef. Before eating, you’re supposed to mix all the ingredients together, thus staying true to the name mixed rice.
At a Korean restaurant, bibimbap is served in heated stoneware bowls known as dolsot-bibimbap which give the bottom of the dish a layer or crispy, crunchy rice.
We first tasted Omurice in Japan, and were surprised to see it offered on menus in Korea. Japan had a history of strict foreign policy where it didn’t interact much with the West, but when that ended in the mid 1800’s, the Japanese started to create dishes based on the Japanese interpretation of Western-dishes.
This resulted in Omurice or Omeu-raiseu which basically translates into omelette rice, and it’s a sweet and sour fried rice dish, packed with vegetables, that’s wrapped in a soft omelette. Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and sometimes mustard are poured on top as they were all new products to the Japanese palate and just stuck!
Gimbap are made from wrapping gim, which are sheets of seaweed around bap rice. Gimbap are colorful and can be filled with a variety of ingdients such as: pickled radish (Dan-mu-ji or Yellow Radish), burdock root (Woo Ung), carrot, fishcake (Eomuk or Odeng), spinach, egg, and sometimes even beef. We like to think of them as Korean “sushi.”
Dalgona (달고나) – they are one of simplest Korean street-food snacks made from sugar and baking soda, but, according to the kid-foodies, the most fun to eat! That’s because there’s a game behind eating them – inside each cookie is a shape. The goal of the game is to break the edges around the shape, keeping the shape intact. If you’re successful, you get to eat it for free!
Kkul-tarae (Dragon’s Beard)
The Kkul-tarae is a popular Korean dessert that’s dry and sweet, with a bit of a nuttiness on the inside, not entirely unlike the center of a Reese’s peanut butter cup although much lighter and less moist. The outer coating strands of honey were so fine, however, that they started to melt the instant they hit your tongue. Ours had more honey than filling and was about the size of a mini Snickers bar (a small square). It’s recommended to keep them in the fridge, so the honey is cool enough to last more than two or three seconds on your tongue.
And there you have it, our list of Top 10 Kid-Friendly Foods From South Korea. South Korea has a rich culinary scene, and in ten days, we barely scratched the surface of it. We’ll definitely be back for another visit, this time longer.
In the meantime, let us know what you’re favorite kid-friendly Korean dishes are in the comments below. And, we’re always open to restaurant recommendations in Seoul!