The Hallyu or Korean wave in Malaysia has been going on for quite some time now. The earliest exposure to it began sometime in the early 2000s through popular Korean dramas such as ‘Autumn in My Heart’ and ‘Winter Sonata’ where the former was remade multiple times into Indonesian, Philippine, Thai, and Chinese versions. As for the latter, the theme song of the drama was covered by Malaysian singer Hazami titled in Malay as ‘Sonata Musim Salju’.

Although the South Korean dramas proved to be really popular with the Malaysian audience, the Korean wave only started to gain some real traction thanks to YouTube.  Through the sharing of Kpop videos, dramas, variety shows, etc., it helped to propel South Korean culture further into the eyes of the world. Not only are the dramas, movies, music, fashion, and beauty gaining worldwide attention but also the food. And so here, we have listed down three of the most famous Korean dishes you must try.

1. Kimchi

Now, if you’re a fan of Korean dramas you must certainly have seen this staple food of theirs present in nearly all food scenes. For Malaysians it’s rice and for Koreans it’s kimchi. Through this analogy, you can probably guess how important kimchi is to them. Originally a side dish that’s to be eaten with rice, noodles, etc., it has also transformed into becoming a standalone main dish by itself. Today, many varieties of not only kimchi as a side dish or banchan but also as a main course exist. For kimchi as a side dish alone, there are about 200 different types of kimchi.

While for kimchi that’s been integrated into main dishes, amongst the most popular include kimchi jjigae (stew), kimchi jeon (pancake), kimchi fried rice, and many more. For those of you who are just beginning to get into Korean food, we recommend you start off by eating kimchi jeon which is a thin and crispy savoury pancake made with kimchi that tastes absolutely delightful when dipped into its special soy sauce. Curious as to what kimchi is made of? The basic ingredients of kimchi include vegetables the most common being cabbages and radishes that have been fermented with a variety of seasonings which include chili powder, garlic, ginger, etc.    

2. Tteok-bokki

Amongst the most popular and best Korean street food is of course tteok-bokki. This highly affordable snack, appetizer, main course or whatever you want to call it is also featured heavily in Korean movies, dramas, and shows. Made from rice cakes, scallions, eomuk (fish cakes), boiled eggs as well as an assortment of other necessary ingredients that make tteok-bokki well tteok-bokki, it makes a delicious meal no matter the time of day. Following the current times, tteok-bokki has also evolved accordingly as there are now more varieties for it such as cream sauce tteok-bokki, curry tteok-bokki, tteok-bokki ramen, and so on. But if you’d like to sample the original tteok-bokki flavour, try the one with gochujang. Not sure you want to try it since you don’t know what gochujang is? Relax, it’s only chili paste.  

3. Jjajangmyeon

No matter how you spell it be it jjajangmyeon or jjajangmyun, this delicious savoury-sweet dish made out of a sweet paste, meat, and vegetables, is sure to tickle your taste buds. A fan favourite amongst many South Koreans as it is the go-to noodle dish for various situations be it as a dish one consumes after moving into a new house, a dish to mend heartbreak or even the simplest reason of all as a dish to curb one’s hunger.

Similar to kimchi and tteok-bokki, numerous versions of this dish can be found today such as jjajangbap (rice with black bean sauce), jjapaghetti (instant noodle), and the recently trending jjapaguri (combination of two instant noodles; jjapaghetti and neoguri) from the academy award-winning South Korean movie Parasite. If you’re not a fan of sweet-tasting dishes then the original jjajangmyeon might not be the noodle dish for you. However, you can perhaps try jjapaguri since the spicy neoguri noodles help to balance out the sweetness of the jjapaghetti.

Without a doubt, there are many other delicious South Korean dishes and delicacies that too deserve to be discussed in detail. But for now, as a brief introduction to South Korean cuisine, you can start off by trying out the dishes mentioned above. Besides that, if you’re interested in decorating your living area with Korean-themed décor, you can do so affordably and without breaking a sweat by creating it online at Printcious.