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People eating at the food stalls at Gwangjang street market 
Photo by Elena Ermakova / Shutterstock

The 38 Essential Seoul Restaurants

South Korea’s capital is a must-visit dining destination

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People eating at the food stalls at Gwangjang street market 
| Photo by Photo by Elena Ermakova / Shutterstock

Seoul’s food traditions extend back centuries, from the hearty bowls of seolleongtang (beef bone soup) found in its cozy restaurants to the simple vegan fare of its Buddhist temples. But the dining scene is changing fast in the South Korean capital. Not only are chefs rediscovering — and reinventing — these old-school dishes, but they’re also creating a new modern Korean cuisine that combines traditional ingredients with Western cooking techniques. Restaurants are diversifying their drink lists, too, beyond the classic soju.

“Now Seoul possesses a broad list of restaurants to enjoy, ranging from street food to three-star fine dining,” says Matty Kim, an Eater contributor and photographer. “Seoul is on the rise as a gastronomic destination of Asia.”

Prices per person, excluding alcohol

$ = less than 20,000 won (less than USD $17)
$$ = 20,000 - 50,000 won (USD $17 - USD $44)
$$$ = 50,000 - 10.000 won (USD $44 - USD $87)
$$$$ = More than 10,000 won (more than USD $87)

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Doore Yoo

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16-12 Gahoe-dong, Jongno-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-743-2468
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Michelin-starred chef Tony Yoo found a new home in the heart of Bukchon Hanok Village, a neighborhood filled with traditional Korean houses. In a calming Hanok setting, Yoo combines temple cuisine — a vegetable-centered cuisine that originated in Korea’s Buddhist temples — and traditional Korean dishes to create an elegant modern Korean cuisine of his own. There’s a chaejip (foraging) menu using ingredients found across Korea available if requested a couple days in advance. [$$-$$$]

The dining room at Doore Yoo
Photo: Doore Yoo

2. Dining in Space

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83 Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-747-8105
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While chef Jinsung Noh's excellent modern French haute cuisine is good enough reason to include it on the Eater 38, it's the view that sets Dining in Space apart from other restaurants. Diners enjoy a frequently changing tasting menu with dishes like seared scallop and Iberico pork steak while overlooking Changdeokgung Palace, a grand palace from the Joseon Dynasty. Three sides of the restaurant are made of glass so that the view is wide open from anywhere inside the restaurant. If you are looking for a restaurant with a unique view of Seoul, this is the place. [$$$-$$$$]

A dish at Dining in Space
Photo by Sung Bin Lee

3. Balwoo Gongyang

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56 Gyeonji-dong, Jongno-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-733-2081
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Thanks to the episode of Chef's Table that features the cooking of Zen Buddhist nun Jeong Kwan, the whole world now knows the beauty of temple cuisine. But it was restaurant Balwoo Gongyang that introduced temple cuisine to the public in 2009 — its name is even a term for the traditional cuisine. The food here strictly adheres to vegan Buddhist principles: Not only does the diet exclude all meat and seafood, but it also bans spices such as garlic, chives, and onion. But that does not mean that the food is bland. Using temple-made jang, a fermented sauce, and fresh organic produce, Balwoo Gongyang serves delicate and flavorful food. It does not sell alcohol, but guests are allowed to bring their own bottles during dinner service, with corkage. [$-$$$]

A meal at Balwoo Gongyang
Photo: Balwoo Gongyang

4. Cheong Jin Ok

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South Korea, Seoul, Jongno-gu
Jongno 1(il).2(i).3(sam).4(sa), (종로1가 24번지 르메이에르 1층)

The morning after a night out in Seoul calls for a proper hangover cure. Head over to Cheong Jin Ok for a hot bowl of Haejangguk, an original dish that literally translates into "hangover cure soup." The rich broth is made by simmering beef bone, brisket, and intestines for 24 hours. Cabbage and cow blood are then added to the soup, following the original recipe created in 1937. This hot bowl will cure your worst hangovers, preparing you for another night of soju drinking. [$]

Cheong Jin Ok
Photo: Cheong Jin Ok / Facebook

5. Imun Seolnongtang

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38-13 Ujeongguk-ro, Gyeonji-dong, Jongno-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-733-6526
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When in Seoul, don't miss out on this bowl of soup with a broth as rich as its history. This is the oldest restaurant in Seoul, being the city’s first-ever restaurant to register for a business license in 1904. Imun Seolnongtang has been offering a hearty bowl of seolleongtang (beef bone soup) to the people of Seoul ever since. Over the century, this milky and pure bone broth has reached a level of near-perfection. [$]

Seollongtang at Imun Seolnongtang
Photo: TomEats / Flickr

6. Hoban

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85-7 Nakwon-dong, Jongno-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-745-6618
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Located near Nakwon Music Mall, Hoban is a local favorite for many soju enthusiasts. This restaurant is crowded throughout the day with groups of drinkers gathering to enjoy Hoban's generously portioned specialties. Try the soondae (Korean blood sausage) and the incredibly tender and sweet byung-uh jjim (braised butterfish) along with a bottle of your favorite Korean drinks. [$-$$]

Soondae at Hoban
Photo by Matty Kim

7. Jinju Hoegwan

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120-35 Seosomun-dong, Jung-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-753-5388
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Kong-guksu (bean noodle) is a popular noodle dish served in a cold soy milk broth. Although the dish is normally considered a seasonal summer delicacy, this restaurant has been serving it year-round for the past 50 years. Expect a long line, but it's worth the wait. The rich, creamy, nutty soup made with nothing but freshly ground soybean is irresistible. Soon you will find yourself licking the bottom of the bowl. [$]

Kong-guksu at Jinju Hoegwan
Photo by Sung Bin Lee

8. Hadongkwan

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South Korea, Seoul, Jung-gu, Myeongdong 1(il)-ga
Myeongdong 9-gil, 12
+82 2-776-5656
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When it comes to gomtang, a Korean beef soup traditionally served to the king, not many do it better than Hadongkwan. Gomtang has been the only item on the restaurant’s menu since it opened its doors in 1939. However, you can customize your order with different cuts of meat such as brisket or tripe. Order at the door as you walk in; you will get your bowl almost right away. Don't be alarmed when it arrives lukewarm — that is the original way gomtang was served to the king. Add leek, salt, and kimchi to your taste at your table, and enjoy your cheap, quick, hearty meal that makes a perfect lunch or breakfast. [$]

Gomtang at Hadongkwan
Photo by Matty Kim

9. Myeongdong Kyoja

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33-4 Myeong-dong, Jung-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-776-3424
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When you are beaten down after hours of shopping in Myeongdong district, stop by Myeongdong Kyoja for kalguksu — a bowl of wheat-flour noodles served in a rich chicken broth. This place has been serving kalguksu with dumplings on the side for more than 50 years. The restaurant also allows refills of the noodles and rice, so do not hesitate to ask for seconds if you are feeling extra hungry. [$]

Kalguksu at Myeongdong Kyoja
Photo: Myeongdong Kyoja

10. Mokmeoksanbang

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산5-6 Pil-dong, Jung-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-318-4790
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Most tourists visiting Seoul plan to ride cable cars to the top of Namsan (Nam Mountain) to take in the scenic view. Not too far from the entrance to the cable cars hides a beautiful traditional Korean house that is also a restaurant. Named after Namsan's old name, Mokmeoksan, Mokmeoksanbang serves one of the city’s best versions of bibimbap, a rice bowl topped with meat, eggs, and fresh produce sourced from farmers all around the country. [$-$$]

Mokmeoksanbang
Photo: Mokmeoksanbang

11. Gwangjang Market

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88 Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno 1(il).2(i).3(sam).4(sa), Jongno-gu
Seoul, South Korea

Step inside the Gwangjang Market if you want to get lost in Korean street-food paradise. Gwangjang is Korea's largest hanbok (traditional clothing) and textile market, but it also happens to be the oldest street-food market in the country, filled with food stalls boasting a wide array of street-food offerings. The smells, sights, and vibrant energy will work up your appetite. See something you like? Just grab a seat and start ordering. Don't forget to save some room for yukhoe (a Korean beef tartare with sesame oil and Asian pear) and bindaeddeok (fried mung bean pancakes). [$]

Gwangjang Market
Photo by Matty Kim

12. Wooraeok

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62-29 Changgyeonggung-ro, Jung-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-2265-0151
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Wooraeok has been serving delicious Korean barbecue in Seoul since 1946. However, the restaurant is also very well known for its Pyongyang naengmyeon (Pyongyang-style cold buckwheat noodles). While most versions of this dish feature a subtle broth — often perceived as bland — Wooraeok’s version is meatier and more pronounced in flavor, making it suitable for first-timers. Give it a try. If you don’t like it, you can always return to feasting on barbecue. [$]

Pyongyang Naengmyeon at Wooraeok
Photo by Matty Kim

13. Pyongyang Myeonok

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26-14 Jangchungdong 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-2267-7784
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North Korea’s traditional dish Pyongyang naengmyeon has become hip recently, with several new places serving the dish cropping up. But old-school noodle house Pyongyang Myeonok is still considered one of the best. With its subtle and clear broth and chewy buckwheat noodles, Pyongyang naengmyeon may not give a powerful first impression, but it's a real sleeper hit. Proceed with caution as many have fallen victim to Pyongyang naengmyeon addiction — and you’re unlikely to find it outside of Seoul. [$]

Pyongyang Naengmyeon at Pyongyang Myeonok
Photo by Daewook Ban

14. Pyeongando Jokbaljip

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62-16 Jangchungdong 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu
Seoul, South Korea

Jokbal (pig's trotter braised in soy sauce with spices) is one of Korea’s most beloved dishes. Koreans love this chewy and salty delicacy so much that they will have it anywhere and at anytime of the day. For the best jokbal, pay a visit to the more than 50-year-old Jokbal Street in Jangchoong-dong. Hidden down a back alley is Pyeongando Jokbaljip, which is praised by many jokbal aficionados. Make it into a wrap with lettuce and other condiments, then enjoy with a chilled glass of soju. [$]

Jokbal at Pyeongando Jokbaljip
Photo: gorekun / Flickr

15. La Yeon

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South Korea, Seoul, Jung-gu, Jangchungdong 2(i)-ga
Dongho-ro, 249
+82 2-2230-3367
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It came as no surprise to anyone when La Yeon received three stars in the first Michelin Guide to Seoul. Its interpretation of traditional Korean cuisine cooked to perfection using modern techniques is thought to have elevated Korean cuisine to a whole level: Think charcoal-grilled eel with gochujang sauce or steamed red snapper with red-pepper sauce. Located on the 23rd floor of the Shilla Seoul Hotel, La Yeon also provides diners a scenic view over the city. With delicate flavors and impeccable service, La Yeon is a leading fine dining destination in Seoul. [$$$$]

La Yeon
Photo by Matty Kim

16. The Library

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202 Jangchung-dong, Jung-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-2230-3388
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The Library inside Seoul’s Shilla Hotel is a popular afternoon tea destination, but it is especially crowded during the summer. Costing more than 40,000 won ($36) a bowl, the Library’s summer specialty apple mango bingsu (shaved ice) is one of the most iconic and luxurious desserts in Korea. But unlike many other overpriced, Insta-worthy delicacies, this milky shaved ice overloaded with a generous amount of fresh apple mango is actually worth trying. [$$]

Apple mango bingsu at The Library
Photo by Matty Kim

17. Hell Cafe

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238-43 Bogwang-dong, Yongsan-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 70-7604-3456
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If you want the meanest cup of coffee in Seoul, enter the gate of Hell Cafe. This microroastery blasting out classic vinyl is a go-to place for many coffee lovers. Try the infamous Hell Drip coffee — a technique employed by first-wave barista and Korean Barista Championship winner Yo-seop Kwon that uses a woolen coffee filter to produce a deeper and more pronounced flavor — or the award-winning signature classic cappuccino. [$]

Hell Cafe
Photo by Bob Lee

18. Bada Sikdang

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18 Itaewon-ro 49-gil, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-795-1317
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Budae-jjigae ("army base stew") is a popular stew in Korea made with sausage, ham, baked beans, and kimchi. It is believed to originate from the post-Korean War period, when it was made with surplus food from U.S. Army bases. Want to try the famous sausage stew but cannot stand the heat? Bada Sikdang offers a milder version called Johnson Tang (yes, named after President Lyndon Johnson), toned down with loads of cabbage and sliced cheese. [$]

Johnson Tang at Bada Sikdang
Photo by Matty Kim

19. Ahn Ssi Makgeolli (Mr. Ahn’s Makgeolli)

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61 Hoenamu-ro 13ga-gil, Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 10-9965-5112
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Want to learn about the traditional Korean liquors aside from soju? Head over to Gyeonglidan-gil, one of the hippest streets in Seoul. There you will find Mr. Ahn's Makgeolli, a Korean gastropub pairing a broad range of traditional drinks with delicious accompaniments. The knowledgeable staff will guide you through the world of Korean liquor, which can range from premium soju and rice wine to wines made from pine leaf and chrysanthemum. The food here, meticulously prepared by talented young chefs in a tiny kitchen, is a traditional Korean menu with fun modern twists like stuffed and steamed squid and yogurt-marinated chicken. [$$]

A meal at Mr. Ahn’s Makgeolli
Photo by Diane Kang

20. Fritz Coffee Company

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68 Mapo-daero, Mapo-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-3275-2047
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A beautiful old space that once housed a Korean barbecue restaurant has transformed into a coffee powerhouse. Award-winning baristas, a dedicated green-bean buyer, and a famed baker have joined forces to start Fritz Coffee Company. For the perfect cup, Fritz Coffee Company imports beans directly from producers around the world and roasts them in the house. The bread and pastries freshly baked every morning by famed baker Minsu Heo are the treat that Seoul's best cup of coffee deserves. [$]

Fritz Coffee Company
Photo by Bob Lee

21. Fell & Cole

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310-11 Sangsu-dong, Mapo-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 70-4411-1434
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Head over to Fell & Cole for a scoop of ice cream with a Korean touch. Hojun Choi, whom locals sometimes describe as an “ice cream fairy,” opened a gourmet ice cream shop in 2010, kicking off the artisanal ice cream trend in Seoul. Choi continues to tinker with natural ingredients that aren't normally used for making ice cream, like perilla leaf, roasted soybean, and makgeolli (rice wine). [$]

Ice cream from Fell & Cole
Photo by Bob Lee

22. Miro Sikdang

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6-99 Changjeon-dong, Mapo-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-326-3777
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Want to have a drink alongside the best home-style Korean dishes in Seoul? I hope you are ready for a hike. Miro Sikdang is a small pub-like Korean restaurant located on a hill near Hongik University. With a keen eye for exceptional ingredients, chef Seungjae Park creates simple yet delicious homestyle Korean dishes — best paired with drinks — like bulgogi, seafood scallion pancakes, and a spicy whelk salad with Spam. Going to Miro Sikdang is a bit of a journey, but knowing what's waiting at the end of the road should keep you motivated. [$$]

A dish at Miro Sikdang
Photo by Bob Lee

23. Okdongsik

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385-6 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu
Seoul, South Korea

This small restaurant with a 10-seat counter became the hottest new restaurant in Seoul this spring. After leaving a position as executive chef at a local hotel, Dongsik Ok opened a restaurant with his own name on the sign. The restaurant’s signature dish, pork gomtang, is Ok's invention. Gomtang is traditionally a beef dish, but Ok boils Berkshire pork for three days to make a clear and hearty broth, packed with flavor. Be sure to line up outside the restaurant before it opens, since Ok only serves 100 bowls each day and it sells out fairly quickly. [$]

Pork gomtang at Okdongsik
Photo by Bob Lee

24. Oh Tongyeong

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300-3 Ichon 1(il)-dong, Yongsan-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-794-2377
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If you get the chance to visit Tongyeong, a small port city on the southern coast of the Korean Peninsula, you’ll be amazed by its beauty and incredible seafood. But for those who don’t have the time to travel to the coast, this is where you can enjoy the local specialties of Tongyeong without leaving Seoul. Popular dishes include munggae (sea squirt) bibimbap, sunggae (sea urchin) bibimbap, and jeonbok sotbap (abalone butter rice). [$$]

A dish at Oh Tongyeong
Photo by Daewook Ban

25. Soigné

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46 Banpo-daero 39-gil, Seocho-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-3477-9386
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This Michelin-starred counter seating restaurant provides one of the most exciting dining experiences in Seoul. Chef Jun Lee takes you on a gastronomic roller coaster ride with his creative and carefully thought-out tasting menu influenced by global cuisines. An alumnus of the Culinary Institute of America and New York restaurants Per Se and Lincoln, Lee is regarded as a forward-thinking chef who brought restaurant-industry trends like pop-ups and collaboration dinners to Korea. The concept of the Episode menu changes every three months, providing a completely different yet equally excellent dining experience for returning guests. [$$-$$$$]

Soigné
Photo: Soigné

26. Zerocomplex

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113 KOREA, Donggwang-ro, Bangbae-dong, Seocho-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-532-0876
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Chef Choonghoo Lee spent years in Paris as a sous chef under Iñaki Aizpitarte and returned to Seoul to open this neobistro in the heart of the city’s French village. In a minimalistic space surrounded by stainless steel, Lee presents some of the most creative and beautiful dishes in Korea, such as mackerel with rose and fennel and squid with paprika, zucchini, cucumber, and marigold. Through a partnership with a local farmer, Lee selects and grows produce that you can't easily find at markets in Korea. With the addition of French sommelier Clement Thomassin, Zerocomplex boasts an impeccable wine service with a comprehensive natural wine program. [$$$]

A dish at Zerocomplex
Photo by Hyunjin Kim

27. Kwonsooksoo

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27 Eonju-ro 170-gil, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-542-6268
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From kimchi to cooking oils to jang-a-chi (pickles), chef Kwon Woojoong makes almost everything that he uses at his restaurant from scratch. His dedication and craftsmanship — as exemplified by dishes like uh ran (trout roe cured in salt and soy sauce) and songhwa (small bites made with pine pollen that accompany tea) — were rewarded with two Michelin stars. With friendly service and flawless presentation, Kwonsooksoo ensures an astonishing experience of modern Korean cuisine. [$$-$$$$]

A dish at Kwonsooksoo
Photo: Kwonsooksoo

28. Louis Cinq

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657, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-547-1259
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Louis Cinq is a popular hangout for many oenophiles, celebrities, and restaurant workers looking for a place to drink after their shifts. This was the first wine bar in Seoul to serve wine with food that is actually good. Chef Yousuk Lee calls his venue a "French pub," a casual spot where people can enjoy good food and wine late into the night. His dishes are influenced by his time in France and Spain at restaurants like L’Astrance and L’Ambroisie, as well as butcher shops. [$$]

A dish at Louis Cinq
Photo by Hyunjin Kim

29. Toc Toc

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33 Dosan-daero 51-gil, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-542-3030
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Chef Dan Kim is known for his passion for showcasing the best produce available at any given moment. Toc Toc’s a la carte menu is superb, but to enjoy Kim's creations to the fullest extent, make a reservation for his exuberant eight-course tasting menu known as Tocnomy. Thanks to his ingredient-forward dishes that transcends borders — such as smoked local sturgeon served with caviar or a kelp and truffle pasta — Toc Toc was named One to Watch at the 2016 Asia’s Best Restaurants award ceremony. Curious which ingredients are hot right now? Toc Toc is the place to be. [$$-$$$$]

A dish at Toc Toc
Photo: Toc Toc

30. Sulhooyayun

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647-24 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-549-6268
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This Korean bistro is the second project of chef Woojoong Kwon of Kwonsooksoo. Here, Kwon serves a modern interpretation of Korean food meant for pairing with its wide-ranging list of traditional Korean liquors and wines. Named after a painting from the Joseon Dynasty depicting people eating and drinking outside on a cold winter night, Sulhooyayeon manifests Kwon's love and respect for the food traditions of Korea. Here, you’ll find regional dishes like Andong-style chicken-feet terrine, Pyongan-style boiled chicken, and Tongyeong-style sea squirt bibimbap. Enjoy Korean food and drinks, Joseon style. [$$]

31. Jungsik

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11 Seolleung-ro 158-gil, Gangnam-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-517-4654
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Chef Jungsik Yim was one of the first chefs to mix Korean flavors and ingredients with the trappings of European fine dining from techniques to presentation. That is why many consider his restaurant, Jungsik, the birthplace of modern Korean cuisine. Although other modern Korean restaurants have arisen since, Jungsik has stood the test of time and proven to be an essential restaurant that represents Korea. Jungsik Bar, located on the first floor, serves an a la carte menu with a great wine list for those who want to try Yim's food but haven't got room for a full-course meal. Consider the crispy octopus with gochujang aioli or the sea urchin bibimbap served with seaweed puree and crispy quinoa. [$$-$$$$]

Jungsik
Photo: Matty Kim

32. Mingles

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94-9 Nonhyeon 2(i)-dong, Gangnam-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-515-7306
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Without a doubt, chef Mingoo Kang is the most sought-after chef in Korea right now. Since he opened Mingles in 2014, he has been showered with praise both domestically and internationally. Both Asia's 50 Best Restaurants and the Michelin Guide have recognized Mingles as an up-and-coming restaurant. By “mingling” traditional Korean cuisine with elements of from various parts of the world, Kang continues to redefine modern Korean cuisine with dishes like foie gras torchon wrapped in white kimchi and creme brulee served with three different fermented pastes. Reserve in advance, as this is one of the most difficult places to get a table in Seoul. [$$-$$$]

A dish at Mingles
Photo: Mingles

33. Sushi Kojima

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21 Apgujeong-ro 60-gil, Gangnam-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-2056-1291
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With access to fresh seafood and the rich cultural influence of Japan, some claim Seoul is home to some finest sushi outside of Japan. There are options at all price points, from cheap lunch boxes to high-end sushi-ya. Many sushi lovers name Kojima, located on top of high-end clothing store Boon the Shop, the best sushi experience in Korea. Leading the kitchen is chef Gyeong Jae Park, one of Seoul’s most respected sushi veterans, who gained a following while training at the Shilla Hotel’s high-end Ariake and then cemented his reputation at his first restaurant, Sushi Chohi. Taking pictures inside the restaurant is strictly forbidden. [$$$$]

Sushi Kojima
Photo by Hyona Seo

34. HAAP

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93-3 Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 70-4209-0819
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Korea's traditional desserts and sweets are relatively unknown to the world. Paris-trained pastry chef Yong-il Shin specializes in artisanal Korean traditional desserts like rice cakes, yakkwa (traditional honey cookies), and shaved ice, alongside traditional beverages like yuzu tea and pear tea. These elevated variations of Korea’s traditional snacks and teas also make ideal gifts. [$$]

Tea at HAAP
Photo by Matty Kim

35. Joo Ok

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52-7 Seolleung-ro 148-gil, Gangnam-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+ 82 2-518-9393
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When Joo Ok opened in 2016, it quickly made the list of major players among modern Korean restaurants. Chef Changho Shin has created a modern interpretation of Korean dishes packed with acidity thanks to the various types of house-made vinegar and pickles he uses as seasoning. With the lunch course starting as low as 29,000 won ($26 USD), Joo Ok is the place for exquisite modern Korean food at an affordable price. [$$-$$$]

A dish at Joo Ok
Photo: Joo Ok / Facebook

36. Tutto Bene

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118-9, Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-546-1489
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As the name suggests, all is well inside this beautiful Italian restaurant hiding in a back alley of one of Seoul’s most luxurious neighborhoods. A graduate of one of Italy’s most respected culinary schools, chef Jaehoon Yi makes excellent Italian dishes with subtle Korean twists like linguine with myeongran jeot (fermented cod roe). Yi's food really shines when accompanied by a selection from the restaurant’s renowned wine program, and the beautiful candle-lit dining room with antique decor makes it one of the most romantic and intimate dining destinations in Seoul. Save room for the restaurant’s signature tiramisu. [$$-$$$]

Tiramisu at Tutto Bene
Photo by Matty Kim

37. Little & Much

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49 Hakdong-ro 56-gil, Samseong 2(i)-dong, Gangnam-gu
Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-545-1023
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Patissier couple Hwayoung Lee and Seungki Jung make "little” sweets that pack "much” flavor. With its elegant, colorful, and delicious mousse-based seasonal desserts, Little & Much has become an essential pastry shop in Seoul. Each dessert is beautifully designed, making it an ideal Instagram destination, too. They often sell out long before closing time, so get there when you can if you want a piece of that mousse cake. [$]

A dessert at Little & Much
Photo by Bob Lee

38. Noryangjin Fish Market

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674 Nodeul-ro, Noryangjin 1(il)-dong
Dongjak-gu, 서울특별시 South Korea
+82 2-2254-8000
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Dating back to 1927, Noryangjin Fish Market is the biggest fish market in Seoul. Take a walk around the first floor and explore the seafood of Korea, which might be different than what you find in your local market. For example, you may come across sea squirt, sea cucumbers, long-legged octopus, or abalone in these stalls. Vendors will prepare fish fresh right on the spot and direct you to a restaurant upstairs, where you can order side dishes and drinks. Eat the seafood raw as sashimi or ask them to prepare it steamed or grilled for an additional charge. Don't forget to ask for maeuntang, a spicy fish soup made with your meal’s leftover carcasses. [$-$$]

Noryangjin Fish Market
Photo: orennesson / Flickr

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1. Doore Yoo

16-12 Gahoe-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
The dining room at Doore Yoo
Photo: Doore Yoo

Michelin-starred chef Tony Yoo found a new home in the heart of Bukchon Hanok Village, a neighborhood filled with traditional Korean houses. In a calming Hanok setting, Yoo combines temple cuisine — a vegetable-centered cuisine that originated in Korea’s Buddhist temples — and traditional Korean dishes to create an elegant modern Korean cuisine of his own. There’s a chaejip (foraging) menu using ingredients found across Korea available if requested a couple days in advance. [$$-$$$]

16-12 Gahoe-dong, Jongno-gu
Seoul, South Korea

2. Dining in Space

83 Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
A dish at Dining in Space
Photo by Sung Bin Lee

While chef Jinsung Noh's excellent modern French haute cuisine is good enough reason to include it on the Eater 38, it's the view that sets Dining in Space apart from other restaurants. Diners enjoy a frequently changing tasting menu with dishes like seared scallop and Iberico pork steak while overlooking Changdeokgung Palace, a grand palace from the Joseon Dynasty. Three sides of the restaurant are made of glass so that the view is wide open from anywhere inside the restaurant. If you are looking for a restaurant with a unique view of Seoul, this is the place. [$$$-$$$$]

83 Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu
Seoul, South Korea

3. Balwoo Gongyang

56 Gyeonji-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
A meal at Balwoo Gongyang
Photo: Balwoo Gongyang

Thanks to the episode of Chef's Table that features the cooking of Zen Buddhist nun Jeong Kwan, the whole world now knows the beauty of temple cuisine. But it was restaurant Balwoo Gongyang that introduced temple cuisine to the public in 2009 — its name is even a term for the traditional cuisine. The food here strictly adheres to vegan Buddhist principles: Not only does the diet exclude all meat and seafood, but it also bans spices such as garlic, chives, and onion. But that does not mean that the food is bland. Using temple-made jang, a fermented sauce, and fresh organic produce, Balwoo Gongyang serves delicate and flavorful food. It does not sell alcohol, but guests are allowed to bring their own bottles during dinner service, with corkage. [$-$$$]

56 Gyeonji-dong, Jongno-gu
Seoul, South Korea

4. Cheong Jin Ok

South Korea, Seoul, Jongno-gu, Jongno 1(il).2(i).3(sam).4(sa), (종로1가 24번지 르메이에르 1층)
Cheong Jin Ok
Photo: Cheong Jin Ok / Facebook

The morning after a night out in Seoul calls for a proper hangover cure. Head over to Cheong Jin Ok for a hot bowl of Haejangguk, an original dish that literally translates into "hangover cure soup." The rich broth is made by simmering beef bone, brisket, and intestines for 24 hours. Cabbage and cow blood are then added to the soup, following the original recipe created in 1937. This hot bowl will cure your worst hangovers, preparing you for another night of soju drinking. [$]

South Korea, Seoul, Jongno-gu
Jongno 1(il).2(i).3(sam).4(sa), (종로1가 24번지 르메이에르 1층)

5. Imun Seolnongtang

38-13 Ujeongguk-ro, Gyeonji-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Seollongtang at Imun Seolnongtang
Photo: TomEats / Flickr

When in Seoul, don't miss out on this bowl of soup with a broth as rich as its history. This is the oldest restaurant in Seoul, being the city’s first-ever restaurant to register for a business license in 1904. Imun Seolnongtang has been offering a hearty bowl of seolleongtang (beef bone soup) to the people of Seoul ever since. Over the century, this milky and pure bone broth has reached a level of near-perfection. [$]

38-13 Ujeongguk-ro, Gyeonji-dong, Jongno-gu
Seoul, South Korea

6. Hoban

85-7 Nakwon-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Soondae at Hoban
Photo by Matty Kim

Located near Nakwon Music Mall, Hoban is a local favorite for many soju enthusiasts. This restaurant is crowded throughout the day with groups of drinkers gathering to enjoy Hoban's generously portioned specialties. Try the soondae (Korean blood sausage) and the incredibly tender and sweet byung-uh jjim (braised butterfish) along with a bottle of your favorite Korean drinks. [$-$$]

85-7 Nakwon-dong, Jongno-gu
Seoul, South Korea

7. Jinju Hoegwan

120-35 Seosomun-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Kong-guksu at Jinju Hoegwan
Photo by Sung Bin Lee

Kong-guksu (bean noodle) is a popular noodle dish served in a cold soy milk broth. Although the dish is normally considered a seasonal summer delicacy, this restaurant has been serving it year-round for the past 50 years. Expect a long line, but it's worth the wait. The rich, creamy, nutty soup made with nothing but freshly ground soybean is irresistible. Soon you will find yourself licking the bottom of the bowl. [$]

120-35 Seosomun-dong, Jung-gu
Seoul, South Korea