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Food Etiquette in Korea: Eat Korean Barbecue Like a Local

Korean Barbeque is an internationally-popular dish. But what is the best way to eat it? It’s one of the best meals to enjoy on any trip to Korea and has become popular world over from London to New York City but do you know all the rules when it comes to eating Korean bbq? Here are some friendly tips you should know the next time you visit a Korean barbeque restaurant.

First! If you’re in Korea looking to eat barbeque, look for a restaurant with air vents! A traditional Korean barbeque restaurant will have air vents over each table. You can use them to suck the fumes out when you are cooking meat.

Korean BBQ etiquette

Sitting Down for Korean Barbeque

All cutlery and dishes are stainless steel, including the chopsticks. You can put your spoon and chopsticks on a napkin. In a Korean restaurant, if you want to get a waiter’s attention, you should call them over by saying “Yogiyo! (요기요)” which means “Over here”.

Some restaurants may have a button you can press to call the staff if the restaurant is really busy. If it is empty, it is considered more polite to call the waiter over. If you see tin-shaped chairs, this means they are hollow. The top is a lid which you can take off and put your bag inside.

Read More: Take a Culinary Journey Around South Korea

Cooking the meat

The most popular type of meat at a Korean restaurant is pork. Some restaurants also offer beef, but this may be more expensive. You should use scissors to cut it into smaller pieces. This helps to cook it faster. For the best taste, flip the meat once. When it is cooked, push it to the edge of the grill. You can also cook garlic and kimchi.

Read More: Best Korean Ramen (Ramyeon)

Expert tip: flip the meat once only for pork and for beef several times so the outside is cooked but the inside is slightly rare.

The grill burns out frequently so remember to replace it often. You can ask the server to do this for you, but if they are attentive they will do it without being asked. Or sometimes they’ll just do it anyway even if you want to give it a go yourself.

Side dishes in Korean BBQ

Banchan (반찬) means side dishes, and they come at no extra charge. However, you should order rice separately. Side dishes include:

  • Kimchi
  • Various Sauces
  • Dwenjang Chigae Soup
  • Omelet
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Salt
  • Salad
  • Lettuce

Feel free to ask for refills!

Making the wrap

Using chopsticks, place everything you want inside the lettuce. You should dip the meat into your favorite sauce. You can also add garlic or anything else inside the wrap. Use your hands to hold the lettuce wrap and eat it in one bite.

Korean BBQ etiquette


Soju and Makgeolli  are the most popular drinks to have with barbeque. You can also order beer. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can make somek, which is soju and beer mixed together. If you mix it well, you won’t taste the soju. Be careful not to overdo it!

Read More: Koreans have a lot of rules when it comes to drinking, so read about them here.


The restaurant will give you a bill when you sit down, and add to it as you order. When you are finished eating, bring your bill to the front to pay. This covers the basics of eating Korean barbeque in a restaurant. Next time you are out with your friends, enjoy this popular Korean meal .

Some Great BBQ Restaurants in Seoul and my personal favourite Sodojeok 소도적in Songpa. In between National Police Hospital and Garak Market Station. Behind all the shops and next to the post office. It’s an all you can eat steak bbq. Help yourself to sides and you’re generally left alone to get on with it. Also, just around the corner is (새마을식당), also fantastic and with lots of options.

While you’re there, Garak Market has an awesome foreign food store inside if you’re looking for some western supplies and don’t want to go Itaewon.

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