With the arrival of winter, Delhites seek warmth and comfort in spicy and nourishing Korean food. Relish the goodness of fermented kimchi, aromatic dipping sauces and foamy cups of Dalgona coffee in these restaurants.
On its Instagram page @seoul.restaurant, the place describes itself as ‘the oldest authentic Korean restaurant in New Delhi’. It opened in Ansal Plaza in 2002, and serves 70-plus Korean dishes. A lot of its dipping sauces, a handful of dry ingredients, cutlery, select paper used for serving are sourced from South Korea. For pork lovers, there’s Samgyeopsal or grilled pork belly which has succulent meat pieces placed on lettuce, spiced with garlic and ginger and accompanied by kimchi and Samjang, a spicy dipping sauce. Another recommendation is the hearty rice bowl Dolsot Bibimbap. In Korean, bibim means a mix of vegetables and meats, and bap is cooked rice.
Price for two: ₹1,500 plus taxes
Where: Block C-308, 3rd Floor, Ansal Plaza Mall, Khel Gaon Marg, New Delhi
Gung – The Palace
No conversation about Korean restaurants in Delhi is complete without mentioning Gung – The Palace, which opened in the mid-2000s, and continues to remain a favourite in the city. My suggestion would be to go in a big group to thoroughly enjoy the experience; the portions are large and there’s a lot to choose from. The jjigai or stews are remarkable: choose from Kimchi jjigai, haemul doenjang jjigai (seafood soybean paste stew), sundubu jjigai or bean curd tofu stew. Gung also serves casseroles (a mix of rice, seafood, meats, and curries that come in cook-and-serve pots); and Korean pancakes or gimbap (also known by other names such as kimbap and Korean sushi roll). The beverage menu has Korean rice beer, Korean wine, and plum-flavoured soju (the traditional drink of the country).
Price for two: ₹ 3,500 plus taxes
Where: D-1/B, Near Ashirwad Complex, Green Park, New Delhi
This café, in Korean Cultural Centre India, is a must-visit. It has a wide range of traditional Korean teas such as ginseng, sswang-cha (black herbal tea) and sujeonggwa (Korean cinnamon tea). The dessert menu has a Korean winter street food special, Hotteok or crispy Korean sweet pancakes; bingsoo, a popular Korean street food dessert that’s frozen milk shavings topped with red bean paste, fruit, and sprinkled with roasted soybean powder, misugaru (powdered cereal mix, or matcha powder). If you are hungry, get a piping hot bowl of remyeon (Korean ramen); the spicier the better. The crowd-favourite rice bowls are complete comfort food. Finish off the meal with a steaming cup of Dalgona coffee.
Price for two: ₹1,000 plus taxes
Where: Korean Cultural Centre India, A25, Vikram Vihar, Lajpat Nagar IV, New Delhi
Gangnam Korean Restaurant
This cosy place serves 70-80 dishes, including starters, mains, desserts and beverages, and is a favourite among college students. The manager Poumei Kamei says the nutritional value, vibrant colours, balance of flavours and the wholesomeness of their dishes makes Korean food gained favour among Delhiites. Do try the jajangmeon or the Korean noodles with black bean sauce and chef’s special fish cakes.
Price for two: ₹ 600 plus taxes
Where: 1st floor, Tara house, New Aruna Colony, Majnu-ka-tilla, Timarpur, New Delhi
Busan Korean Restaurant
Another popular food spot in Majnu Ka Tila is Busan Korean Restaurant. It has added some new dishes, including Korean sushi, rice cakes (bokki) and Budae Jjigai or Army stew (a dish that gained prominence during the Korean war in the fifties). Taking a cue from traditional Korean BBQ shops, the design of this restaurant, with its wooden platforms, low seating, wide tables, encourages the traditional way of community eating. The restaurant overlooks the Yamuna and serves canned beverages, including sodas, coffee and soy milk imported from Seoul.
Price for two: ₹600 plus taxes
Where: Ground Floor, 9B, Block 10, Majnu Ka Tilla 110054
Mr K. Korean Ramyun Café
When it first opened in Hauz Khas Village few years ago, this Korean Café became a hotspot among people working in the area. With a focus on ramyun or spicy noodle soups, the place has several outlets in the city now. It has a variety of Korean coffees, kimbaps (seaweed rice rolls) and rabokki (popular street food that combines instant noodles with spicy rice cake and vegetables). Interestingly, the café also keeps a select range of Korean beauty products.
Price for two: ₹850 plus taxes
Where (Various): Green Park; Hauz Khas Village; Malviya Nagar; PVR Saket; Greater Noida
Kori’s Café and Restro
The restaurant serves family recipes of Sang Hoon Lee, the man who opened it in 2012. The katsus (deep fried cutlets), mandus (steamed dumplings), tteokbokkis (rice cakes), Korean egg rolls, and a lot of other dishes that are served here are a homage to Korean street food. The dosirak (think, Korean thali) served with sticky rice, curry, and various side dishes, are a reminder of what a traditional Korean lunch box looks like even today. It has expanded to open outlets in Mizoram’s Aizawl, Assam’s Guwahati and Arunachal Pradesh’s Naharlagun.
Price for two: ₹ 1,500 plus taxs
Where: M-57, 1st Floor, GK I, New Delhi; 70, Humayunpur, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi
Abhilasha Ojha is a Delhi-based art and culture writer.