60 Easy Korean Phrases For Ordering Food And Eating Out

Want to know how to order the most delicious food when you visit Korea? Worried about eating food that’s too spicy for you (or not spicy enough)? Need to know if dishes are Halal or vegan-friendly? Eager to impress Koreans with your Korean language and dining etiquette knowledge? Then these 60 easy Korean phrases for ordering food and eating out will be perfect for you.

This guide covers 6 key areas to ordering food in Korea; from entering the restaurant and getting a table, to understanding Korean words on a menu, asking about food items, and finally settling the bill.

There’s also a whole section for travellers with special dietary requirements. Find out how to ask for Halal food in Korea, and check whether food is vegan friendly. For people with allergies and intolerances, there are also a few simple Korean words for excluding certain foods and asking about what’s in a meal.

This is a lot more than just a guide to ordering food in Korean or basic Korean food words, however. I’ve packed in extra tips and insights about Korean food culture, avoiding embarrassing dining mistakes, etiquette tips for eating out in Korea, and the best ways travellers to Korea can enjoy all the amazing foods Korea has to offer.

Food is a great way to understand a culture and a meal is more than just a way to refuel your body. Being able to discuss the meal, to offer praise, to ask simple requests, and to be able to ask for another glass of soju will help you make friends in Korea and show that you want to learn more about the country and its people.

For those who are interested in learning more about Korean dining etiquette and culture, as well as general Korean culture and social rules, this article will offer lots of fascinating insights for you:

Korea’s Secret Etiquette Rules

If you want to know all the Korean phrases for ordering food, keep on reading. Otherwise, use the table of contents below to jump to what you want to know about the most.

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Joel can enjoy traditional Korean dishes with these easy Korean phrases for ordering food.

Understanding These Korean Phrases For Ordering Food

These easy Korean phrases for ordering food and eating out have been split into 6 different sections to cover different parts of the dining experience in Korea. These include entering a restaurant, understanding the menu, ordering food, special requests, paying the bill, and discussing the meal.

Some sentences have blank spaces so you can add what you want in that phrase. For example, when ordering food in section 4, you can add any food you like to the phrase “I’ll have ____, please”. Whatever you add should make sense to the person taking your order. The same applies for when you want to exclude items – “No ____, please”.

There are some common Korean phrases you might hear from staff at a restaurant, too. It’s useful to know what someone is asking you so you can reply to them.

If you have trouble understanding what someone is saying to you, then you can ask them to speak more slowly. You can say that by using the phrase below:

Please speak more slowly
천천히 말 해주세요
Chon-chon-hee mal hae-ju-seh-yo

This is one of the 60 essential Korean phrases that I’ve included in my article about Korean phrases for travellers, which provides general phrases for getting around Korea.

60 Essential Korean Phrases For Travellers.

For each of these 60 easy Korean phrases for ordering food & eating out I’ve included the English meaning, the Korean translation in hangul (Korean writing system), and a pronunciation guide.

Korean is a syllabic language, which means that it’s important to pronounce each syllable clearly. If you don’t know much Korean, take it slowly and one syllable at a time. Or show the person you want to speak to these phrases – that should work, too.

Above all, be patient and do your best when trying to speak Korean. I really hope you’ll have great success when using these phrases while you’re eating out in Korea.

A Quick Note About The Korean Language Used Here:

Please note: These Korean phrases for ordering food are designed for travellers who don’t speak Korean and have been simplified in some places. Particles have been dropped where the meaning is still obvious, and the grammar used is often the polite form.

Korean (and any language) can be complex and confusing and there can be multiple ways to say the same thing. For example, in English we can say ‘give me a pizza‘ or ‘I think I’d like a pizza, please‘ or just ‘pizza, please‘. They all mean the same thing, but can be easier or more complicated to understand for non-native English speakers.

The same principle applies with Korean. I’ve tried to use the simplest Korean phrases for ordering food so that travellers can learn them more easily, but also so that Koreans will be able to understand you clearly.

If you’re interested in knowing more about the Korean language and how to make more articulate sentences, then I’d recommend learning from a dedicated website like 90 Day Korean, which offers free learning materials and also premium courses with personalised feedback and support.

Pronunciation Guide:

When you see ‘eu‘ in a word, it’s usually pronounced like the ‘oo’ in ‘boot’ but without rounding your lips.

When you see ‘a‘ in a word, it’s pronounced like the ‘a’ in ‘arch’.

When you see ‘ae‘ in a word, it’s pronounced like the ‘ay’ in ‘pay’.

When you see ‘oo‘ in a word, it’s pronounced like the ‘oo’ in ‘zoo’.

I’ve added in the letter ‘h’ after many vowels to show that they are pronounced ‘softly’. For example, ‘eh’ instead of ‘e’ to show that it’s not a strong ‘ee’ sound.

When you see two consonants together, such as ‘kk’ or ‘gg’, pronounce them strongly in one sound.

Now, let’s get started with these first 10 easy Korean phrases for ordering food.

Use Korean phrases for ordering food in restaurants like this in Myeongdong, Seoul

1: Essential Korean Phrases At A Restaurant

Korean restaurants come in all shapes and sizes, from open restaurants with tables spilling out onto the pavement, to quiet retreats hidden inside a traditional hanok house. Whatever place you decide to dine at, these easy Korean phrases for ordering food will help you get in the door and be ready to start thinking about what to eat.

Ordering food in Korea can happen in a number of ways, depending on where you’re dining. The most common form is the standard table service, where someone will come to your table and take your order.

Don’t always expect someone to come to you, however. Many times you’ll have to shout out ‘저기요!’ (joh-gi-yo) to get served. In Korea you’ll have to be brave to be heard and if you don’t shout out, you can sometimes be left waiting for ages.

Joel’s Tip: Before you do shout out, be sure to check the table for a call button. It’s a small round button that will call someone over to take your order (or second orders, etc.).

Besides table service, an increasing number of places have self-service machines where you can order food. These are typically fast food places like McDonald’s or Subway, but also include gimbap restaurants and other places with cheap, simple dishes.

In Korean restaurants it’s common to see a sign that says ‘셀프’ (sel-peu), which means ‘self‘. This is a self-serve area where you can top up on side dishes, water, and other parts of your meal for free. In Korean BBQ places this is where you’d get extra lettuce, kimchi, garlic, etc.

Now, here are you first 10 easy Korean phrases for ordering food in Korea.

English MeaningKorean (Hangul)Pronunciation
Do you have any free tables?빈 자리가 있어요?Bin ja-ri-ga is-soh-yo?
How many people?몇 명이에요?Myot myong-ee-eh-yo?
There are ____ people.____ 명이에요.____ myong-ee-eh-yo.
A table for 4, please.네명.Ne-myong.
Excuse me (calling a waiter).저기요.Joh-gi-yo.
May I have a menu, please?메뉴 주세요?Men-yu ju-seh-yo?
Yes, here you are.네, 여기 있습니다.Ne, yoh-gi is-seum-ni-da.
Do you have an English menu?영어 메뉴 있어요?Yong-oh men-yu iss-oh-yo?
What do you recommend?추천하시겠습니까?Chu-chohn-ha-shi-gess-seum-ni-kka?
How much is this?얼마예요?Ol-ma-yeh-yo?

Understanding These Korean Phrases

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the words and grammar used in the table above to help you understand a bit more about ordering food in Korea.

명 (myong) means ‘person / people‘. When you want to ask for a table you can indicate the number of people with your fingers and the server will understand. Pointing and gestures are a great way to get by if you don’t know Korean numbers yet.

있어요? (iss-oh-yo?) generally means ‘to have something‘ and is really useful for asking questions. You can add whatever word you want in front of it to ask if something is available.

For example, pi-zza iss-oh-yo? (do you have / serve pizza?) or shi-gan iss-oh-yo? (are you free? lit: do you have time?). It’s an extremely flexible Korean phrase that will help you when you’re ordering food, making friends, or shopping in Korea.

Korean Menu to help practice basic Korean phrases for ordering food

2: Understanding Korean Words On A Menu

First of all, if you’re travelling in Seoul or any of the major tourist areas, then you’ll find that many menus have English translations on them. If they don’t, then they’ll probably have pictures that you can point to.

However, if you want to try some traditional Korean dishes and venture into the sort of restaurants that are usually meant for locals, you’ll definitely need these words for reading Korean menus.

These words mostly cover the headings in each section of the menu. To find out what something is in the menu, use the final phrase – 이거 뭐예요? (ee-goh mwo-yeh-yo?) – to ‘what is this?‘.

By the way, even though you might struggle with ordering food in Korean at one of these places, they’re usually the places with the best Korean dishes. Definitely try to find the non-touristy looking restaurants for authentic Korean food that will have you saying 정말 맛있다! (jong-mal ma-sshit-da!)really delicious!.

This list of the best traditional Korean dishes will give you some ideas of what to try.

20 Amazing Korean Dishes

English MeaningKorean (Hangul)Pronunciation
Menu메뉴Men-yu
Starters스타터Seu-ta-tuh
Main Dishes메인 요리Mae-in yo-ri
Side Dishes반찬Ban-chan
Desserts디저트Di-juh-teu
Drinks음료수Eum-ryo-soo
Soft Drinks (soda)탄산음료Tan-san-eum-ryo
AlcoholSool
Price가격Gah-gyok
What is this?이거 뭐예요?Ee-goh mwo-yeh-yo?

Understanding These Korean Phrases

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the words and grammar used in the table above to help you understand a bit more about ordering food in Korea.

You’ll notice that a lot of these words sound similar to their English meaning, such as menu (men-yu), starter (seu-ta-tuh), and dessert (di-juh-teu). You’ll see many ‘loan words‘ from English (or other languages) where there may not have been a Korean word when the thing was introduced.

This is common in many languages and makes it a lot easier for travellers who can speak English. When ordering food, you’ll find many non-Korean dishes have a similar sound to their English name, such as pi-zza, pa-seu-ta, ai-su-keu-reem, seo-si-ji. etc. If you want to order non-Korean food and don’t know the word, try just saying it in English.

반찬 (ban-chan) are one of the best things about eating out in Korea. These are side dishes that come with Korean meals and can range from a bowl of kimchi to a dozen (or two) small dishes packed with omelettes, eggs, fish, meat, seafood, vegetables, crabs, pickles, pancakes, and so many other delicious nibbles. When you eat out in Korea, try to sample as many as you can.

이거 뭐예요? (ee-goh mwo-yeh-yo?) which means ‘what is this?’ is probably my most loved and used Korean phrase for ordering food, shopping, or exploring Korea. If you ever want to know what something is called, just point and say this phrase.

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Vegan food restaurant in Seoul, Korea

3: Special Requests When Ordering Food In Korea

Korea has a wide range of foods that can be enjoyed by many people around the world. Whether you like seafood, steak, or salad, or a combination of all of these, there’s a Korean dish for you. There’s also a wide range or foreign foods to enjoy, some of them mixed in with Korean dishes to create modern fusion food.

That being said, not everyone can or wants to eat the same thing. Many people choose to follow certain diets due to lifestyle or religion, whilst others may have an allergic reaction or intolerance to some ingredients.

Muslim travellers to Korea who need to know how to ask about halal food in Korea, or want to know if halal food is served, then the phrase 할랄인가요? (hal-lal-in-ga-yo?) will be essential – ‘is this Halal?‘.

You’ll be happy to know that there are Halal certified places in Seoul, and shops and restaurants with Halal goods are often well marked. I’ve certainly noticed plenty of Halal places in popular tourist destinations such as Myeongdong and Itaewon. For some Halal recommendations, check out these Halal restaurants In Seoul

Vegan travellers, however, may have a harder time. If you want to say you’re a vegan in Korean, you can use this phrase – 나는 비건 채식을 해요 (na-neun bi-gan chae-shig-eul hae-yo). This translates into ‘I’m a vegan vegetarian‘.

You need to be careful when you translate ‘vegan’ using translation apps as most only translate it to ‘vegetarian‘ or 채식주의자 (chae-shig-ju-wee-ja) and they’re obviously not the same thing.

The concept of veganism might not be completely understood in Korea, so you might need to ask to exclude things with the phrase ____는 빼 주세요 (____neun bbae ju-seh-yo), which means ‘no ____, please‘.

To ask if something is suitable for vegans, you can say 비건 채식주의자가 먹을 수 있어요? (be-gan chae-shig-ju-wee-ja-ga mog-eul su iss-oh-yo?) – literally: can this be eaten by vegans?

The good news is that there are still several great vegan restaurants you can check out in Seoul and the vegan lifestyle is growing in Korea step-by-step.

Whatever your dietary requirements, these Korean phrases for ordering food should help you get the right dish for you.

English MeaningKorean (Hangul)Pronunciation
Is this spicy?이거 매워요?Ee-goh mae-wo-yo?
Non-spicy, please.맵게 하지 말아주세요Maeb-geh ha-ji mal-ah-ju-seh-yo.
Does this have nuts?견과류 있어요?Gyon-gwa-ryu iss-oh-yo?
I have a nut allergy.너트 알레르기가 있어요.Nuh-teu al-le-leu-gi-ga iss-oh-yo.
Do you have vegetarian food?채식주의자 음식이 있어요?Chae-shig-ju-wee-ja eum-shig-ee iss-oh-yo?
Is this suitable for vegetarians?채식주의자가 먹을 수 있어요?Chae-shig-ju-wee-ja-ga mog-eul su iss-oh-yo?
Is this Halal?할랄인가요?Hal-lal-in-gah-yo?
I can’t eat pork.돼지고기 못 먹어요.Dwe-ji-go-gi mot mog-oh-yo.
No meat, please.고기는 빼 주세요.Go-gi-neun bbae ju-seh-yo.
No _____, please.____는 빼 주세요.____-neun bbae ju-seh-yo.

Understanding These Korean Phrases

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the words and grammar used in the table above to help you understand a bit more about ordering food in Korea.

매워요? (mae-wo-yo?) means ‘is this spicy?‘. Another key Korean phrase for travellers to Korea who can’t handle spicy food that well (like me). If you’re concerned, point to a dish and say ‘mae-wo-yo?‘ to find out if it’s spicy.

However, in my experience, many Koreans will say something isn’t really spicy as it’s not super-hot. That doesn’t mean it’s not still spicy though, so be careful. Korean levels of spice may not be the same as other places. If the dish is red, it’ll probably be spicy.

고기 (go-gi) is the word for ‘meat‘ and Koreans add this word to the animal’s name to make the type of meat. For example, pig (dwe-ji) and pork (dwe-ji-gogi), cow (so) and beef (so-go-gi). Fish meat is mul-go-gi, which translates to ‘water-meat’.

You might recognise bul-go-gi, a common Korean dish, which translates to ‘fire-meat’, which indicates the way it was cooked. Bulgogi can be different types of meat, so be careful when you order it if you want to avoid certain meats.

Korea Travel Advice Facebook Picture Aug 20
Insadong is where to stay in Seoul if you're looking for traditional Korean culture

4: Korean Phrases For Ordering Food In A Restaurant

Now that you’ve worked out what’s on the menu and what you can or can’t eat, it’s time to use these Korean phrases to order some food. When you’ve called over the server to take your order, they’ll want to know what your ‘order‘, 주문 (ju-moon), is.

In case you’re not quite ready to order, you can tell the server 잠시만 (jam-shi-man), which means ‘just a moment‘.

Ordering from Korean menus might seem daunting, but really you just need to list the items that you want to eat or drink. If you’re not sure how things are pronounced, then point to the item on the menu.

Prices in Korean restaurants might seem cheap compared to what you’re used to. It’s also quite common that meals can be a lot bigger than you expect, too. My first experience of that was ordering a plate of fried chicken for what I assumed was a normal price for 1 person, but turned out to be enough for 3 people!.

Korean meals will also come with 반찬 (ban-chan), which are side dishes. They’ll usually arrive before the main meal and you can easily fill yourself up on them! That’s partly why they’re there – to keep you going while the main course is being prepared.

English MeaningKorean (Hangul)Pronunciation
Would you like to order?주문하실래요?Ju-moon ha-shil-lae-yo?
I’d like to order, please.주문할께요.Ju-moon-hal-gge-yo.
Eat in / Dine in여기서 먹어요.Yoh-gi-soh mog-oh-yo.
Take out / Take away포장해 주세요.Po-jang-hae ju-seh-yo.
I’ll have ____, please.____ 주세요.____ ju-seh-yo.
BBQ for 2 people, please.바비큐 2인분 주세요.Bah-bee-kyu dul-in-boon ju-seh-yo.
A large portion of ____.____ 많은 부분.____ man-eun boo-boon.
Please don’t add ____.____는 넣지 마세요.____ neun noh-ji ma-seh-yo.
That’s all.그게 다예요.Geu-geh da-yeh-yo.
One more, please.하나 더요 주세요.Ha-na doh-yo ju-seh-yo.

Understanding These Korean Phrases

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the words and grammar used in the table above to help you understand a bit more about ordering food in Korea.

주세요 (ju-seh-yo) means ‘please give‘ but can also be used to mean ‘please‘ when ordering food in Korea. You’ll notice it appears many times at the end of these Korean phrases for ordering food, that’s because it’s another one of those really useful words to learn.

마세요 (ma-seh-yo) means ‘please don’t‘ and is often used in warning signs or when asking not to include things. If you have special dietary requirements, then this is a great phrase to learn.

If you want to ask someone to stop or not do something, however, you should use the phrase 하지마 (ha-ji-ma), which literally translates to ‘don’t do‘. Try to avoid using this unless you really have to or you’re with friends though as it’s informal.

여기서 (yoh-gi-soh) & 포장 (po-jang) – these are the words for ‘eat in‘ & ‘take out‘. If you want your meal to go, you can simply say ‘po-jang‘ when you order and it’ll be put in a box to take away. As home delivery is very popular in Korean, many restaurants offer a take out service, even places you might not expect.

If you’ve only managed to eat half of your meal and want to take the rest with you for later, you can ask for ‘po-jang‘ to get it boxed up. Remember to add 주세요 (ju-seh-yo) to the request to make it politer.

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Korean won notes, Korean money

5: Paying For Food At A Korean Restaurant

When you order your meal in a Korean restaurant, you’ll often be given a bill on a small clipboard that you need to take the cashier to pay. However, if you haven’t received the bill, these Korean phrases will help you work out how to get it, how much to pay, and how to split the bill.

In Korean culture, where age and hierarchy are important factors to decide social standing and respect, footing the bill may go to the oldest person. If you’re dining with Korean friends or co-workers, be sure to be aware of this fact.

There are other Korean dining cultural and etiquette issues that you may not be aware of before travelling to Korea. If you want to learn a bit more about them, be sure to read my article about Korean etiquette.

Guide To Understanding Korean Etiquette

If you feel like splitting the bill, then there’s an easy Korean phrase for that. You can say 따로 따로 (dda-ro dda-ro) when you go to the cashier to indicate that you want to split the bill. 따로 means ‘separately‘ and saying it twice reinforces that you want to pay separately. The same expression is used in Japanese (betsu-betsu).

You can pay by credit card or cash in Korean restaurants and Korea is a very card-friendly society. However, some foreign cards may not always work, so it can be best to have some cash beforehand.

However you decide to pay, these Korean phrases for ordering food will make sure you don’t make a meal of the situation.

English MeaningKorean (Hangul)Pronunciation
Can I have the bill, please?계산서 주세요?Gyeh-san-soh ju-seh-yo?
Here is the bill.계산서 여기 있어요.Gyeh-san-soh yoh-gi iss-oh-yo.
How much is it?이거 얼마예요?Ee-goh ol-ma-yeh-yo?
What’s the total price?전체 얼마예요?Jeon-che ol-ma-yeh-yo?
Can I pay by card?카드로 낼 수 있어요?Ka-deu-roh nael soo iss-oh-yo?
Can I pay with cash?현금으로 낼 수 있어요?Hyun-geum-eu-ro nael soo iss-oh-yo?
Can we pay separately?따로 낼께요?Dda-ro nael-gge-yo?
I’ll pay for everything.제가 다 낼께요.Jae-ga da nael-gge-yo.
I’d like a receipt, please.영수증 주세요.Yong-soo-jeung ju-seh-yo.
I don’t need a receipt.영수증 필요 없어요.Yong-soo-jeung pil-yo ob-soh-yo.

Understanding These Korean Phrases

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the words and grammar used in the table above to help you understand a bit more about ordering food in Korea.

얼마예요 (ol-ma-yeh-yo) means ‘how much‘ and is another one of those essential Korean words you can use for ordering food, shopping, and so much more. Want to haggle for a new bag in the market? Just ask ol-ma-yeh-yo? Want to know the cost of a train to Busan – ol-ma-yeh-yo? It’s short and an easy Korean word to remember.

카드 (ka-deu) and 현금 (hyun-geum) stand for ‘card‘ and ‘cash‘ in Korean. As mentioned, Korea is a card-friendly place and you can pay with a credit card in many places. However, some places might only accept hyun-geum (cash). These usually include food stalls in traditional markets and on street corners.

영수증 (yong-su-jeung) is a ‘receipt‘. You’ll here this word every time you buy something in a shop or eat in a restaurant. If you want a receipt, then nod your head and they’ll give you one. If you don’t want a receipt, you can practice another easy Korean word – 괜찮아요 (gwen-chan-ah-yo), which means ‘it’s ok‘ or ‘no thanks‘.

Korean people enjoying Korean BBQ in Seoul

6: Phrases For Discussing Korean Food

Eating out is a great time to get to know your Korean friends or co-workers and to practice some fun Korean phrases. Impress the locals with a few simple Korean words and also avoid making any uncomfortable mistakes. These final 10 Korean phrases for ordering food will have the biggest impact on making a good impression.

Food is a form of ritual and in all societies there are certain words and expressions that we use when we’re about to eat or have enjoyed a stomach-filling meal. Korea is certainly no different and there are plenty of Korean phrases about food that you’ll hear in any restaurant.

Korea is a culture based around harmony and sharing, which you can see in the large meals with communal dishes which everyone eats from. Pouring drinks for each other is common, as is an endless procession of toasts at a party in the local BBQ place after work.

If you want to wish the others at your table a pleasant and happy meal, be sure to tell them 맛있게 드세요 (ma-shi-geh deu-seh-yo), which means ‘enjoy your meal‘ or ‘bon appetit‘. If you’re at a big table, say it out loud so everyone can hear your kind words.

At the end of the meal, you can show how happy you were by saying 잘 먹었습니다 (jal moh-goh-sseum-ni-da), or ‘thank you for the meal‘ / ‘compliments to the chef‘.

It’s common to eat way too much at Korean meals, especially at Korean BBQ or places with endless food that keeps on coming. If you’ve had enough and want to stop eating (or literally can’t!), then say 배불러요! (bae-bul-loh-yo!) to show you’re full.

English MeaningKorean (Hangul)Pronunciation
Enjoy your meal.맛있게 드세요.Ma-shi-geh deu-seh-yo.
How is your meal?음식 어때요?Eum-shig oh-ddae-yo?
This is delicious.맛있어요.Ma-sshi-soh-yo.
This is too spicy.너무 매워요.Noh-moo mae-wo-yo.
Please pass the gochujang.고추장 주세요.Go-chu-jang ju-seh-yo.
I need some water.물이 좀 필요해요.Mool-ee jom pil-yo-hae-yo.
Let’s order more.더 주문해요.Doh ju-moon-hae-yo.
I would like more ____, please.____ 더 주세요.____ doh ju-seh-yo.
Compliments to the chef.잘 먹었습니다.Jal moh-goh-sseum-ni-da.
I’m so full!배불러요!Bae-bul-loh-yo!

Understanding These Korean Phrases

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the words and grammar used in the table above to help you understand a bit more about ordering food in Korea.

더 (doh) means ‘more‘ in Korean and if you’re ordering food or want to get more of something, this simple word is all you need. Of course, be sure to add ju-seh-yo to the end to be polite.

너무 (noh-moo) means something is ‘too -‘, as in too spicy or too hot. Once you learn some more adjectives, this is a great way to indicate how you feel about something. 너무 춥다 (noh-moo choop-da) – it’s too cold! If you’re travelling to Korea in winter, you’ll certainly say that a lot.

음식 (eum-shig) – you can’t talk about Korean phrases for ordering food without this word, which means ‘food’ in Korean. You can add this word to a country to ask for food from that place. For example, food from China (중국) is 중국 음식 (jung-guk eum-shig) and food from Mexico (멕시코) is 멕시코 음식 (mek-shi-ko eum-shig).

Want To Try Making Korean Food?

There are loads of great opportunities to experience making your own traditional Korean food in Seoul. Why not try your hand at making some of these delicious traditional Korean dishes and create some fun memories on your travels? You can even try out some of these essential Korean phrases while you do it.

Cooking Classes In Seoul

Joel using some Korean phrases for ordering food in Daegu

Joel’s Tips For Eating Out In Korea

These extra tips will help you get the most out of these Korean phrases for ordering food and eating out. I’ve tried to include as many tips and insights into the sections above, but here are a few more to give you the complete picture about dining in Korea – from what foods to get, to cultural & etiquette rules you’ll need to know. I hope you enjoy them.

Traditional Korean Foods You Shouldn’t Miss

Korea is rich in culinary treasures and is a lot more than just fried Korean BBQ and spicy kimchi. There’s a wide range of weird and wonderful foods that will send your tastes buds alight with a range of flavours, tastes, and textures. It’s impossible to provide travel advice about a country and not cover food in at least a few articles.

If you want to know what you shouldn’t miss, or maybe what you should(?), then check out these delicious articles.

20 Best Traditional Korean Dishes

Strange Korean Foods To Try

Soul-Warming Korean Winter Foods

From hot ho-ddeok in winter, to cool bingsu in summer, there is always something yummy to try in Korea whenever you visit Korea. To find out more about what to eat in each different season, as well as what to do, see, and enjoy, check out this complete seasonal guide for Korea:

Best Time To Visit Korea

Now you know what you should eat, and the Korean phrases to order food, here’s some extra cultural tips to remember.

Cultural Tips When Eating In Korea

Here are a few quick tips about eating out in Korea and how to avoid cultural faux pas.

1: Remember to take off your shoes. If there is a raised entrance when you go into a restaurant, be sure to take off your shoes before entering. You’ll see shoe lockers to store your shoes in or leave them on the floor with the others.

2: Wait for elders to sit before you do. If you’re eating with a Korean family or co-workers, be sure to respect the age-based hierarchy and wait for elders to sit first. This also applies to your boss if you’re at a work social event.

3: Tipping isn’t necessary. I’ve lived in Korea for over 5 years and never had to (or been able to) leave a tip. Except for a few restaurants in Seoul that might add a service charge, you won’t be asked or expected to tip staff in Korean restaurants.

4: Don’t pour drinks for yourself. This applies to social situations, not when dining alone or with your family. It’s said to be bad luck to pour your own drinks at a party. Be remembered for your generosity and offer to pour for others.

5: Help others before you help yourself. As with pouring drinks, Korean dining experiences are a communal event and you should be aware of others before yourself. This usually involves handing out chopsticks and spoons to others before eating, or offering dishes to people to try.

6: Use two hands when pouring drinks. This is a common etiquette rule that applies in several situations, including shaking hands and giving gifts or money. Keep two hands on the bottle when you pour drinks, or keep one hand on your arm as you pour.

7: Don’t lick your fingers while you eat. Even with the messiest food, you’re expected to use chopsticks to eat your meal (or a spoon). Licking your fingers is seen as unhygienic at best, but can also be considered rude to some people.

8: Don’t stick your chopsticks upwards in rice. This is very bad etiquette as this looks like incense sticks used at Buddhist funeral ceremonies and brings bad luck.

These are just a few of the many interesting aspects of Korean culture you can learn about in my great article about Korean culture and etiquette. Be sure not to miss it:

Guide To Korean Etiquette

Finally, here’s some useful apps for people who want to order in when they’re in Korea. This will be useful for expats in Korea who aren’t comfortable using these Korean phrases for ordering food yet.

Useful Apps For Ordering Food In Korea

There are a growing number of mobile apps for ordering food online. This service has long been popular in Korea and you’ll often see delivery drivers dropping off boxed meals to people in offices, apartments, or even in parks.

I’ve ordered a portion of fried chicken (and beer) to a park on more than one occasion on a sunny day. Eating out in Korea is just so convenient! All you need to do is download the app, place your order, and wait for the delivery.

Of course, it’s not quite that easy, as you usually need to be able to read and understand a few basic Korean words before you can use the app. This is good practice for learning some Korean food words and basic information, such as your address.

If you want to give it a try when you’re in Korea, then two of the most popular food delivery apps are Yogiyo (요기요) and Baedal Minjok (배달의민족). You can download them on Apple and Android or visit their websites.

Picture Versions Of These Korean Phrases For Ordering Food

I’ve included these basic Korean phrases for ordering food as a table above. To help you practice, you can save the pictures below or print them out to help you learn at home or when you’re travelling. You can even share them to Pinterest if you want to.

Essential Korean Phrases At A Restaurant:

Understanding Korean Words On A Menu:

Understanding Korean Words on a menu

Special Requests When Ordering Food In Korea:

Korean words for Special Requests When Ordering Food In Korea:

Korean Phrases For Ordering Food In A Restaurant:

Korean Phrases For Ordering Food In A Restaurant

Paying For Food At A Korean Restaurant:

Korean Phrases For Ordering Food & Paying For Food At A Korean Restaurant:

Korean Phrases For Discussing Korean Food:

Korean Phrases For Discussing Korean Food

Liked this? Pin It For Others

If you enjoyed reading this article, then please go ahead and share this with your friends on Pinterest.

Korean Phrases For Ordering Food FAQs

Finally, here’s a few FAQs about the ordering food in Korean, in case the above information didn’t cover enough.

How do you ask for Halal food in Korea

할랄인가요? (hal-lal-in-ga-yo?) – means ‘is this Halal?’. There are many shops in popular tourist destinations in Seoul that have Halal foods and they usually display signs to show that the place is certified as an authentic Halal place.

How do you ask for vegan food in Korea

To tell someone you are vegan, you can say 나는 비건 채식을 해요 (na-neun bi-gan chae-shig-eul hae-yo) – literally: I am a vegan. To ask if something is suitable for vegans, you can say 비건 채식주의자가 먹을 수 있어요? (be-gan chae-shig-ju-wee-ja-ga mog-eul su iss-oh-yo?) – literally: can this be eaten by vegans?

Does Korea have Halal food?

Korean food is not normally Halal, but there are a growing number of Halal restaurants in Korea. These are mostly in Seoul and Busan, as well as other large cities. Popular areas with Halal food in Seoul include Myeongdong and Itaewon. You can find signs in English to show that Halal food is served there.

What are the best Korean phrases for ordering food?

The easiest way to ask for something in Korean is to say what you want and add 주세요 (ju-seh-yo) to it. This means ‘please give’ and you can make simple sentences such as ‘pizza ju-seh-yo‘ (‘please give me a pizza’ or ‘I’ll have a pizza, please’). Another useful phrase is 얼마예요? (ol-ma-yeh-yo?), which means ‘how much is it?’. Together, these Korean phrases for ordering food will allow you to ask for the cost of something and to be given it. These phrases are also useful for shopping.

How do I ask the price of food in Korea?

얼마예요? (ol-ma-yeh-yo?) – this translates to ‘how much?’ and is a very simple Korean word to learn for shopping and eating out. You can use gestures to point at what you want to know the price of, which can be very handy when looking around traditional Korean markets and in shopping centres.

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Here are some other great articles that you might want to read about travelling in Korea. Remember, if you have any questions about anything, please feel free to post a comment or join the Korea Travel Advice Facebook Group.

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