Jeonju is famous throughout Korea as one of the centers of Korean culture and is without question the epicenter of Korea’s vibrant culinary scene. Name a Korean dish, and chances are that your Korean friends will inform you that Jeonju has the best variety of it in the country. So, with my time in Korea dwindling, I made the obligatory foodie pilgrimage to the Mecca of Korean cuisine. Here are some things you must eat in Jeonju if you make a similar trip!
Jeonju is famous for its bibimbap, a Korean dish so well-known it’s on CNN readers’ list of the World’s Top 50 Most Delicious Foods. Vegan food in South Korea is a rarity, so an eggless bibimbap is many vegans’ introductory meal of choice upon entering the country. There are many different varieties of the dish, including the creatively named Jeonju bibimbap, but my preference is one with raw beef piled on top. The meat offers a nice contrast to the typically veggie-heavy bibimbap and goes down easily. When mixed, the flavors mesh well, and the dish leaves you feeling sated and healthy.
This is a personal favorite of mine which I’d heard I needed to try in Jeonju. A soup featuring stuffed pig intestines, this isn’t a dish for everyone, but it’s a great choice if you like meat and soup. Honestly, I’ve had better, but it was still good. The variety I’m particularly fond of has pieces of ddeok (rice cake) added. Don’t forget to add in some of the tiny shrimp provided to salt things up a bit.
Another Jeonju staple, this one is a cheap option and known as a great cure for hangovers. Chock full of beansprouts, it is a vitamin/nutrient heavy dish which is a nice alternative to meat-heavy Korean main courses.
While this isn’t a strictly Korean offering, it’s popular enough in Jeonju and delicious enough that I included it. This Japanese style dish of noodles and veggies is served cold with a spicy red sauce that will heat up your senses. It’s a great lunch, especially during the summer, and had us both shoveling it into our mouths. Very similar to one of my favorite dishes, naengmyeon, Jeonju’s soba is not to be missed! I recommend Gendon Soba, but there are more options.
Any just about any city, the street food can be a huge highlight. A walk through the Jeonju hanok village avails many opportunities to sample Korean street fare, including grilled skewers of chicken or squid. We got the squid, and it was amazing. Slathered in a sumptuous sauce, perfectly grilled, and just about the tenderest squid I’ve ever had — it hit the spot.
Jeonju isn’t only known for it’s culinary offerings, it’s got some killer drinks as well. A personal favorite is makgeolli, or Korean rice wine. The traditional style is available, but if you really want to go local, give moju a try. It’s made from dates, ginger, and cinnamon, and boiled for so long that the alcohol content is very low. You drink it for the taste, though, as it’s very sweet and quite delicious. As something of an aficienado on sweetness, I wholeheartedly recommend moju.
There you have it! Some tasty treats to try in Jeonju. Any dishes I missed? I know there are… tell me your choices in the comments below.