Not only is Jeonju famous for its 700 hanoks, but it is for its delicious food too. Did you know that Jeonju was recognized by Unesco as the city of gastronomy in 2012? I only found out after my trip, but I understand why!
My Korean friend recommended I spend some time in Jeonju and she told me that the best food can be found there.
I got curious about it and decided to give it a try. We arrived there during the Jeonju Cultural Heritage Night Tour which is a festival about Jeonju’s history and culture. It had started on the Saturday afternoon and we quickly saw the importance food has in this region!
Jeonju typical food
The capital of North Jeolla Province is home to several famous Korean dishes, thanks to its variety of ingredients and proximity to rice fields and sea.
I heard of bibimbap before I even came to Korea. It’s one of those dishes that is internationally renowned.
I didn’t have enough time to try all of Jeonju’s specialties but obviously, the bibimbap must be at the top of your list! It’s rice, with veggies, meat, and sauce, topped with an egg. Many Koreans say that the best bibimbap should contain no fewer than 10 ingredients, and the true bibimbap contains 29!
I have also heard that the Jeonju way of doing it is by serving it with a local delicacy: the mung bean sprout jelly.
You can mix all the ingredients and… voilà!
If you have a specific diet, you can ask for things to be separated on the plate. For instance, I can’t eat spicy food, and I follow a FODMAP diet, which I also explained in my article about Munich, Germany.
So I simply asked them to leave the sauce on the side, which is a paste made of chili, and the dish was perfectly fine for me!
Makgeolli: the oldest alcoholic drink in Korea!
Makgeolli is an alcoholic drink made out of fermented rice. It is milky and it is best unpasteurized as it has probiotic virtues.
If you order a bottle, you’ll get plenty of side dishes with it. And when you order another one, you usually get another round of dishes but different from the first.
So many Korean people just go for a Makgeolli and zap dinner!
Having lived in the South of Spain for 2 years, it reminded me of the tapas served with the drinks (usually wine!) we would order!
Dolsotbap means rice in the stone pot. It usually contains 15 ingredients, which include sticky rice obviously, and things like wheat, chestnut, bean, ginkgo, pine nut, and ginseng.
You can then add other things to suit your taste like soy sauce, green onion, and sesame.
Bean Sprout Soup with Rice
This soup is famous because of its high-quality soybean sprouts. And this is thanks to the great quality of the soils where the beans are produced, as well as the quality of the water.
You can enjoy it at restaurants or on the go, at the Nambu Market, Jungang Market, Gyeonwon-dong or Junghwasan-dong.
Koreans advise to accompany it with Jeonju moju which is a local rice wine low in alcohol.
The best Korean restaurants in Jeonju
Sambaekjib for the Jeonju Bean Sprout Soup
We chose this restaurant to try this dish out because my rough guide mentioned it. It’s a famous restaurant among locals. As soon as we got in the taxi, and said the name “Sambaekjip“, the driver knew where we wanted to go.
It was a funny drive as the driver took a one-way street in the wrong direction, and as I wanted to pay by card, he said he had no time to do it so he gave us a free ride!
This place looks more like a canteen than a restaurant, but it is the best in town for this soup.
The day we arrived, I think we found the best restaurant in Jeonju!
Not only was it delicious, but it also had plenty of choices, suitable for my food intolerances, and friendly service! In other words, great value for money!
I am not sure of the name of the restaurant, but according to the signs outside, and as you can see in the above photo, it’s a “Native Restaurant”. It is located right next to the Gyeongijeon Shrine as I remember I could see its walls from the restaurant.