Absolutely distinct from most other Asian cuisines, Korean food requires a bit of acclimatization as far as palates go. So while we’re quite familiar with the kimchi (pickled or fermented cabbage), simply because most Thai restaurants in the city serve it at the table, or the rolls (similar to sushi rolls) Korean food is known for its wide band of flavours that are very unique to the cuisine.
While there aren’t as many Korean joints in Bengaluru as other Asian places, most of the ones that are available are fairly good examples of the cuisine. Some of the signature Korean dishes are the Bulgogi, Bibimbap, Doenjang, Samgyetang, among others.
At Hae Kum Gang, on Castle Street, you can taste some of the classic Korean dishes, apart from some you’ve probably never heard of, unless you’ve travelled the length and breadth of Korea. From the Gimbap (vegetables and meat rolled in rice and seaweed) that resembles a flat sushi roll, you can fill your heart up with the Dolsot Bibimbap (where rice, vegetables, beef, and egg, is cooked together and seasoned with chilli paste), or the mildly spiced Mushroom Jeongol, a stew with mushrooms, tofu, glass noodles and vegetables. The Korean cutlets are also a must-try, they come with a special sauce for topping and are served with rice, salad, and soup. And of course there’s the famous Bulgogi, marinated and grilled meat (typically beef).
At Thran in Kalyan Nagar, you get something very similar to Hae Kum Gang, plus they make a few variations of the Ramen, including one with seafood. Also try their stir-fried octopus.
Soo Ra Sang on Old Airport Road has been around for a while and their barbecues are definitely worth a shot. Apart from chicken, pork, beef, they also offer barbecued tongue! Also try the Bulgogi soup here and their fried rice.
Arirang at Kammanahalli might have a fairly basic ambience but their food is anything but ordinary. Try the Galbi Tang (short rib soup), and the Pork Napa Wraps. For a very Korean experience, the Dried Pollack Soup is a must try - It’s a clear soup made with Pollack, a flaky fish, where the fish is first sautéed in sesame oil, served with rice it’s a meal by itself. And on a chilly evening, dig into a big bowl of Bulgogi and Octopus Hotpot – it’s wholesome for sure.
And yes, Kammanahalli is also home to the Korean Bakery and Café (located near the Ganesh Temple) where you can buy sweet potato bread, red or green bean buns, and even the Castella cake, which is technically Japanese, but we’re not judging.
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Priyadarshini is an independent journalist from Bengaluru whose life pretty much revolves around food, good music, literature, and cinema. She’s worked with different publications over the past 10 years, and has written about travel, theatre, films, books, music, food and lots of food! She’s travelled wherever her feet and budget would allow, discovering cultures through local palates and social behaviour, and in an ideal world would probably resort to using food and music to resolve any dispute.