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Banchan: 8 Ways to Keep Up with the BEST Restaurants in Seoul

It’s difficult to find out where the best places are and where to avoid. Believe me, this is what I do for a living. I don’t have some magic map, and I usually don’t get secret emails about new places. I network.

To make it easier on all of us, here are some ways to keep track of the best Korean and non-Korean places in Seoul. Many of them are Facebook groups with lively discussions.

Korean Food Lovers Seoul (Facebook) Korean food is everyone in Seoul (DUH). The trick is finding the good stuff.

Mexican Food Lovers Seoul (Facebook) Add your Mexican food finds and tips.

Pizza Lovers Seoul (Facebook) Seoul is going through a pizza renaissance. This is where it gets documented.

Sandwich Lovers Seoul (Facebook) Korea is where sandwich craft goes to die. This is where we find the good sandwiches to keep the good places in business.

Booze Lovers Seoul (Facebook) Share cocktails, wine, beer, and other imbibable finds in and around Seoul.

Burger Lovers Seoul (Facebook) The group, started by Devin Rupert, that started it all

ZenKimchi Facebook Page – We post tips, restaurants, and subjects for discussion

ZenKimchi Twitter – Real time finds from all over the Korean and international internet

Here’s what you’d find if you’d been following us.


On the cover of SEOUL Magazine this month. I haven’t read the article yet, but it’s a small interview.

We’ve been extremely busy as of late. Earlier this month we were fixers for the National Geographic show “Chef on the Road,” which should air sometime in November. I’ve also been working hard with our partners at Korea DMC, setting up an army of websites tailored to tourists and expats. It doesn’t look like much now, but wait till you see what’s coming up!

Food Tours

Our tours are still going strong through the summer. Remember that in Korea, summer is the time to watch scary movies. The logic is that it helps chill you in the heat. So it’s a great time to also go on our Dark Side of Seoul tour ($35). We run them each Friday at 7 p.m. Sign up here.




From the Instagram

Search for ZenKimchi on Instagram

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“Chicken Mu” – I thought only cows went, “Moo!”


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Old Unfashioned at Woo Bar in the W Seoul Walkerhill. W29,000.

Jian, he’s a playah! Watch out!

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Tea Part Tuesday at Chili King. W5,000 cocktails and half-priced starters. From left: Kim Jong Un’s “Sea of Fire” wings, The King’s wings, “One night in Bangkok” wings

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Le Cordon Bleu blue cheese burger at Chili King. Now with housemade bacon.

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Finally tried Caffe Bene’s Blacksmith Italian chain restaurant. As predicted, very freakin’ scary. This is an ad for their “Traditional Ingredients Festival.” I guess to them traditional Italian ingredients include kimchi and sweet potatoes on a pizza.

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At Blacksmith. Still the land of the $20 spaghetti. Pretty nice Amatriciana Pasta. But not worth near W16,500!

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That’s no hyena!

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GOOD: Greek yogurt sighting at E-Mart
BAD: It’s sweetened.

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Woo hoo! Free facepack with my makkolli!

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Clever name.

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For when your performance is flaccid.



Author: ZenKimchi

Joe McPherson founded ZenKimchi in 2004. He has been featured and sourced in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, CNN, KBS, MBC, SBS, Le Figaro, Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia, Harper’s Bazaar Korea, The Chosun Weekly, and other Korean and international media. He has consulted for "Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain," The Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern,” Lonely Planet, National Geographic, Conde Nast Traveler, the PBS documentary series “Kimchi Chronicles,” and other projects in the UK, Canadan, and Australia featuring celebrity chefs such as Gizzi Erskine and Gary Mehigan. Mr. McPherson has written for multiple Korean and international publications, including SEOUL Magazine, JoongAng Daily, The Korea Herald, Newsweek Korea and wrote the feature article for U.S. National publication Plate magazine’s all-Korean food issue. He has acted as dining editor for 10 Magazine and was on the judging panel for Korea for the Miele Guide. He spoke at TEDx Seoul on Korean food globalization, at TED Worldwide Talent Search on the rise of Korean cuisine, and in New York City on Korean Buddhist temple cuisine. The company ZenKimchi International organizes food tours for tourists and corporations and acts as a media liaison for foreign and Korean media and local restaurants and producers.

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