What to Order in a Korean Restaurant

What to Order at a Korean Restaurant!

When you walk into a Korean restaurant, its scary! (If you're not Korean) We eat fermented cabbage and jelled acorn for goodness sakes. What's super cool is that we make this stuff taste good! For those who are pretty well-versed in Korean cuisine know that the spicy fermented cabbage is called 'KimChi' and is a staple to every Korean person's diet. I'm not joking kids, we have it with every single meal! It's probably the equivalent of what curry is to Indian food. Trying the various types of KimChi at every Korean restaurant is a must!

The other biggest draw people have to Korean restaurants is the heaping servings of banchan. It's a series of tiny appetizer dishes that can range anywhere from 4-30 individual dishes, and its completely free with your food! You can even ask for refills on any dish. There could be hundreds of different banchan options at any given Korean joint, the most popular ones are: Jap-Chae (glass noodle dish), KimChi Jun (Korean pancake), Pickled Cucumber, Korean Potato Salad, Egg Mari, Mook (acorn jelly), Jang Jorim (soy braised beef with peppers), black beans and hundreds more! My boyfriend (Hispanic, not Korean) ends up eating all the countless dishes and likes the shock the Korean waitresses! It's surprising but Korean people who go to these places don't really eat much of the banchan!

There folks, now you have a banchan/kimchi guide to print out with you for this great Korean Restaurant Food Crawl!

KimChi-Spicy Fermented Cabbage
KimChi-Spicy Fermented Cabbage
Banchan!
Banchan!

1. Maru

This place is NOT fancy. It's a small, cozy semi-hole-in-the-wall, except it's located on a corner. The food is fantastic for the price, and makes me feel like I'm somewhere else. Every time I go here, I always end up ordering something different (probably because I get weird food cravings like everyday!).

What to Order:

Novice: Dol-Sot Bibimbap-Hot Pot: Cooked with rice, meat and veggies. Absolutely delicious here with a great crunch. Must have it in the Stone Bowl, its what makes this dish!

Adventurous: Buddae-Jigae (Military Stew): A crazy dish invented in the 1950s in Korea during the Korean War when food was scarce and there were American soldiers everywhere. A "must-try" super spicy dish!

Location: 414 E William St. Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Phone: (734) 761-1977

Cuisine: Korean

Price: $

Attire: Casual

2. Arirang

I love this Korean restaurant and not just because it is 1/2 mile from my house! The food is authentic, delicious and super hearty and warming for Michigan winters! Another bonus for Arirang is that their waiters/waitresses speak English (rare) and the service is great! (rare in authentic Korean places).

As a side note: The reason service isn't superb at Korean restaurants (the real ones at least) is because they believe good service is bringing out excellent food, not being super smiley and perky. It's unfortunate, but its just how it is!

And remember, if you like it spicy, request to make it spicier. They'll ALWAYS dumb down the spice if you're not Korean, so tell them you can handle it!

What to Order:

Novice: Soon-Doboo Jigae: Tofu Stew that is absolutely delicious and warming.

Adventurous: YookGae Jang: Hearty, rich, super duper spicy beef stew (my personal favorite here) OR

HaeMul Tang: Spicy Seafood Stew with lots of wonderful sea creatures!

Location: 3135 Oak Valley Dr. Ann Arbor, MI 48103

Phone: (734) 222-5959

Cuisine: Korean

Price: $

Attire: Casual

Spicy HaeMul Tang
Spicy HaeMul Tang

3. Rich JC

This place is teeny-tiny, cozy and well... religious? The Rich JC stand for Jesus Christ, but don't let that deter you! The owners are the sweetest people in the entire world. This place makes me nostalgic for when I came every week after my political science 395 class. The food was perfect for my clogged sinuses and the -20 degree windchill. It's real home-cooking folks!

The one con: The seating consists of ~13 stools around a counter, so not much room!

What to Order:

Novice: Kim-bap OR Soon-Doobu

Adventurous: Seafood Ramen

Location: 1313 S University Ave Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Phone: (734) 769-2288

Cuisine: Korean

Price: $

Attire: Casual

Credit: Rex Roof
Credit: Rex Roof
Credit: Rex Roof
Credit: Rex Roof

4. Bubble Island

You can't forget the dessert! I truly do believe that a lunch course deserves a dessert too! This is THE local place to get your fix on Korean "boba-drinks"  and Korean icecream! "Boba/Bubble Tea" is a sweetened tea with tapioca balls in it that look like bubbles. Not only do they have a great selection of boardgames and are open until 3 am on weekends, but they have fabulous drinks!

What to Order:

Almond Milk Tea OR Green Tea with Mango Stars OR Red Bean Milk Tea with Black Bubbles

Korean Frozen Yogurt with Fruit

Location: 1220 S University Ave Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Phone: (734) 222-9013

Cuisine: Tea

Price: $

Attire: Casual

Taro Milk Tea with Black Bubbles
Taro Milk Tea with Black Bubbles

Korean Food Locations

show route and directions
A markerMaru -
414 E William St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104, USA
[get directions]

B markerArirang -
3135 Oak Valley Dr, Ann Arbor, MI 48108, USA
[get directions]

C markerRich JC -
1313 S University Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48104, USA
[get directions]

D markerBubble Island -
1220 S University Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48104, USA
[get directions]

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11 comments

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

How cool!! I love the novice and adventurous suggestions. Someone like myself who is unfortunately unfamiliar with Korean food can really benefit from them!


yenajeon profile image

yenajeon 6 years ago from California Author

Thanks! I did it so people could "take it slow." Haha, These suggestions can be used at any Korean restaurant .. you don't have to be from Ann Arbor.

=)


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America

I've bookmarked this one, because I go by Ann Arbor a few times a year. I LOVE kimchi and most of our Korean restuarnts here moved away, making me sad.


yenajeon profile image

yenajeon 6 years ago from California Author

Patty: You must live near here then! I also would be devastated if I had to live in a place with no Korean food. Thanks for visiting!


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

AriRang - isn't that the national song of S. Korea? I am a big fan of Korean food - and had the pleasure of living in Seoul.

Love your photos - and fortunately I live in New York City so I can keep kimchi on hand, like right now.

My favorite Korean foods? I'm glad you asked - of course bibimbap (love your photo, what a super nutritious dish served with lots of hot paste) - but give me pa jun with soojabe (and some dongdongju) and life is grand. I love the laden tables in Korea. Then there is japchae, soondabu and kimbap and all sorts of kimchi and on and on. Also the quality of food in Korea is superior.

I had some of the best years of my life living (and eating) in Seoul.

Thanks for a wonderful hub! Rated way up and more.


yenajeon profile image

yenajeon 6 years ago from California Author

BK: That IS the national song. NYC is the ultimate place for whenever you need some Korean. Pa jun, any kind of kimchi and soondabu are some of my faves as well! And I totally agree about Korean food being so under-rated.

Thanks so much for commenting!

Lets keep in touch!


pmccray profile image

pmccray 6 years ago from Utah

Nothing I like better than trying new exotic foods. Voted up, marked useful/beautiful and shared.


Dardia profile image

Dardia 6 years ago from Michigan

I will have to make a trip to Ann Arbor one of these days to try one of these restaurants out. I don't like to drive that far to eat but unfortunately there aren't any Korean restaurants around here. We we lucky to finally get a Mediterranean Cafe about 20 min away, recently. Which we have been wishing to have near for some time now. I wonder if we wish hard enough we will get a authentic Korean restaurant near by too. Wonderful hub, Yenajeon! Thanks for sharing.


yenajeon profile image

yenajeon 5 years ago from California Author

Dardia: I couldn't imagine life without Korean food! I don't know where you are but yes, driving would be awful. All you need is a Korean Family to move into your area. And bam, you'll have a Korean restaurant!

Thanks for sharing!


visionandfocus profile image

visionandfocus 5 years ago from North York, Canada

There's tons of Korean restaurants where we live, and I LOVE banchan! My husband thinks it's silly of me to fill up on appetizers (I always finish the glass noodles), but then he orders bi bim bap in every single Korean restaurant he goes to. We both love the beef soup-it's so good!


yenajeon profile image

yenajeon 5 years ago from California Author

visionandfocus: You must live in a big city then! My boyfriend also fills up on banchan and shocks all the waitresses. Thanks for the comment!

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