Seoul must eats

6 Must-Visit Restaurants To Bookmark For Your Next Seoul Trip

Given that the recent Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants event was held in Seoul, we took the opportunity to go there to enjoy some of the city's amazing food culture. We spent 6 days in Seoul and narrowed down the best meals we've had (not an easy feat, mind you). Here are our personal recommendations of the 6 must-visit restaurants to bookmark for your next trip to Seoul.  


남원 (Namwon)


Seoul best restaurants guide Gastrosense-Namwon


Always trust that what was not to be, is precisely what was meant to be. 

Case in point was this Hanok-style restaurant we walked into on a cold and rainy night. It was our first evening in Seoul, and our intended restaurant was closed. We were in a dark and narrow back alley with no restaurants in sight. Then we saw this charming little property with a light on. 

With our fingers crossed, the deepest humility, and on our best behaviour, we went into the house and asked what appeared to be the one-woman operator if she would accept a table of 4. We had no idea what kind of food she served (reminder we were cold and very hungry!). 


Seoul best restaurants guide Gastrosense-Namwon


We hit the jackpot as this meal turned out to be one of our favourite meals in Seoul. Two Korean guests who arrived 5 minutes after us were turned away. We had delicious Nanwom-Gukbap - mild Korean beef bone soup with dried radish greens. The Goji-Jeon (meat patty) was especially outstanding, and we really enjoyed the Nakji-Dolsotbap - hot pot rice with spicy octopus. The banchan she served was simple but very tasty. Our chef-and-host-in-one was super sweet and charming. 

We would recommend all our friends to come here, though somehow, we have a feeling this is a ‘fit & fate’ kind of restaurant. So if you are in the area of Bukchon, go look it up. And if fate has it that day and luck is on your side, please have a bowl of soup for us! 

Address: 44-2, Bukchon-ro 5ga-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea


Born and Bred


Seoul best restaurants guide Gastrosense-Born and Bred


We were introduced to the amazing world of Hanwoo (Korean beef) three years back through wonderful foodie friends who gifted us with Hanwoo when they visited Born and Bred. Naturally, the first restaurant we booked after purchasing our air tickets was here.

While watching drool-worthy Netflix shows on Hanwoo, we were intrigued by the wonders of Korean butchery — of the more than130 butcher’s cuts available (note: western butchery boasts of over 30 cuts). We maintain that Korean beef is our favourite beef — it has a perfect balance of flavour, texture and marbling. It is amazing to (slowly) discover the different flavours, bite and mouthfeel of each different cut. We are truly at the start of our journey of discovery.


Seoul best restaurants guide Gastrosense-Born and Bred


A big shout out to the service team at Born and Bred who play an instrumental part in the enjoyment of a quality meat like that. Knowing how to cook each piece of meat - the right temperature, doneness, the cutting, resting of meat - especially cooking tableside, while managing other aspects of the service is a feat in itself. Our server was very knowledgeable, and well-trained and did an amazing job with the cooking of the meat. 

At dinner, we had ribeye, striploin, outside skirt, chuck flap tail, short plate, tenderloin, chateaubriand, and brisket. Aside from the BBQ meats, the katsu sando, Philly cheesesteak sandwich (fries were so good), cold buckwheat noodles, and brisket hot pot were so good. And MUST order is the amazing raw beef yukhoe. The best!

Address: 1 Majang-ro 42-gil, Seongdong-gu, Seoul, South Korea


Namsan Sool Club 남산술클럽


Namsoon sool club seoul


A rich and delicious meal at Born & Bred had us thinking of a nightcap. Namsan Sool Club was a name popped up a few times in conversations and came highly recommended. Lovers of Korean liquor united and we found our way to this intimately spaced bar on what seems to be the outskirts of Itaewon, where it’s still bustling but not as rambunctious. We didn’t make a reservation ahead of time, so we happily clinched a spot outside the bar, even if it meant standing by the high table. But honestly, this added to the charm of the experience.

Sool means alcoholic beverages made in Korea and we knew we came to the right place when we looked through the menu. It was tough picking from a long list of Soju, Takju, Yakju and Cheongju – especially when most of these words were new to us. But the friendly staff made it easy. We were set on an easy-drinking Takju, which we learnt was similar to makgeolli but with a higher ABV. Peach it was and just as the staff had described, it was juicy! What a great choice. Then the purist in us had to beeline for the next bottle that was heavier in rice flavour. This time around, Dustin, the Sool sommelier and owner of the bar, or should we say ‘club’, explained the differences to us by letting us take the first sip of the golden liquid at the top of the liquor. This layer is called Cheongju as we were told. It was almost sherry-like: concentrated, sweet, smooth – to be savoured for sure. Then shaking the bottle mixes the Cheongju with the sediments that settled at the bottom to bring it back to a Takju.

To go with our drinks were mini savoury pretzels and fun cards dealt to us in a riot of colours and designs. The bar had a fun game for their customers – with every order, cards were given, and the objective was to form the name of the bar to get a free drink. We didn’t have much luck but saw customers trading cards. A nice way to break the ice. If not for our weary legs, we would have probably gone for another bottle or two; alas, we headed back to the hotel with memories of a brief but great time at Namsan Sool Club.

Address: 228-2 Noksapyeong-daero, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea


Artist Bakery 아티스트 베이커리


Seoul best restaurants guide Gastrosense-Artist bakery


For most of us, it was the first time visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace. We must have been so excited about it that we forgot to plan breakfast for the very first morning we had in Seoul. Without any plans, we thought of roaming the vicinity of our hotel to hopefully discover a good breakfast place. Just within 5 minutes of walking, we came across a long queue forming and as true Singaporeans do, we just had to take a closer look. A bakery with a quaint interior, and from what we saw peering in from the outside – fresh bakes in different forms, shapes, and flavours. The queue didn’t dissuade us. At this point, we were pretty much adamant about giving this a try and to speed up the wait, we decided on a takeaway.

A queue ticket and 30 minutes later, we were excited to step into the bakery to lay our tongs on the variety of salt bread. We had a plan – someone would call out the orders after a lightning discussion on what to get, another would place the selections on the tray, someone else would take pictures and videos (we had to – the display was just too enticing and the space decked out like a pretty farmhouse), and the rest would order drinks. It worked and soon we laid out our buys on a stone bench outside of the bakery and stood around in a circle, passing on each bake to try as we sipped on our hot drinks. This drew some curious looks. Cinnamon, fresh milk cream, squid ink with cheese, jamon, sausage (this was spicy with jalapenos!), strawberry jam and butter in a potato bread sandwich, plain butter baguette to go with the tangy ‘No. 1 Signature Sauce’ – a horseradish, wasabi and black pepper cream, and way too many more that we brought the rest back to the hotel for pre-breakfast fuelling the next day.

Soft with a chew and a firm bagel-like exterior, each bread was as good as the other. Then we learnt, that it’s a sister concept to the cult-following London Bagel Museum and Café Layered. No wonder both their breads and the café design were winning. Artist Bakery is a must-visit for those who have Gyeongbukggung or Bukchon Hanok Village as part of their itineraries. We enjoyed watching ladies dressed in hanboks and strolling around gracefully, as we slowly enjoyed our haul of fresh bakes.

Address: 167 Anguk-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea


Gold Pig 금돼지식당 (Geumdwaeji Sikdang) 


Seoul best restaurants guide Gastrosense-Gold Pig


This trip brought us to the very popular Gold Pig. For that, we queued for 2 hours for our lunch on a cold and rainy day. We spent part of that time in the cafe next door nursing our coffees and teas and slices of cakes. Gold Pig serves a pork of a mixed breed pig (Yorkshire, Berkshire and Duroc) - different cuts cooked table side by team members who were knowledgeable and well-trained to cook each part perfectly. We ordered the pork set and added the pork rind. The set comes with ssam, a kimchi tofu jigae, and dipping condiments. We absolutely loved the idea of lightly charred basil wrapped with pork. The pork rind is beautifully cooked, and comes with a dip of sweet sauce and kinako (soy bean) powder. The meats were flavourful, and very tasty with a firm and pleasant bite.

Despite the long wait to get in, the dining room was very efficient like a well-oiled machine. This is a no-reservation establishment, and lunch starts at 11:30 am. For lunch, we would recommend that you head there at 10:45 am to get in the line - so that you can join the first lunch seating at 11:30 am.

Address: 149 Dasan-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea


Sanullim 1992 


Sanullim 1992 seoul best restaurants


This was a recommendation from one of our colleagues who often visited Seoul in recent years. We had to check out this Korean alcohol bar known for its drinks and food, and it definitely did not disappoint! We walked from the main Hongdae shopping precinct to Sanullim 1992 and worked up an appetite. As they only take walk-ins, we had to wait for a table, so we ventured around the neighbourhood discovering small hole-in-the-wall coffee spots, laundromats, a KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) eatery that tempted us with a pre-dinner snack. We then realised an old railway line used to run through the area so we sat by the track to dog watch till it was time for our much-anticipated dinner.


Seoul best restaurants guide Gastrosense-Sanullim 1992


Korean beer, makgeolli picked from an extensive selection, and anju was the order of the day at this cosy and energetic jumak (traditional Korean tavern) style joint. We were drawn to the spicy octopus somyeon (warning: there was an immediate burn and this was sweat inducing, but it was oh-so-good), tasty seafood jeon, perfectly deep-fried squid ink battered calamari, tofu kimchi, and a clean-tasting clam soup to wash down the other bold dishes rightfully strong in flavour to keep the drinks going. Everything was appetising but if asked for our favourites, the calamari, seafood jeon and soup would come out on top. Service was very brisk – a press of the button at our table and a staff would always appear in seconds or at least less than a minute. We were impressed!

From a colleague’s recommendation to ours, we encourage those exploring the Hongdae area to soak in the ambience, buzz, and enjoy the drinks and food of this gastrobar. Seems like at certain hours, the wait is not as long, but come prepared – have a late afternoon bite plus lots of topics for conversation.

Address: 60 Seogang-ro 9-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea