Equip yourself with expert tips to navigate busy restaurants in Korea. Learn about waiting lines, takeouts, and more tips for dining out in Korea for an unforgettable culinary experience.
When it comes to good food, Korean people are serious enthusiasts. Given this, it’s no surprise that famous restaurants in Korea often fill to capacity during peak hours, leaving hungry diners with the daunting prospect of long queues. But fear not, as we have gathered some valuable tips to help you relish the delights of popular Korean restaurants while navigating the waiting game with finesse.
Tips for Dining Out in Restaurants in Korea
Tip #1: Embrace the Art of Waiting
Lunch, dinner, and especially weekends are prime times for renowned restaurants in Korea, resulting in bustling crowds. If these restaurants lack designated waiting areas or systems, joining the crowd outside is normal after giving your name. However, rest assured that the turnover rate is usually swift, as patrons tend to consume their meals promptly. Patience is key, and your turn will inevitably come!
Tip #2: Register and Receive a Number
In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, Korean restaurants have implemented alternative waiting systems to discourage large gatherings. Rather than queuing directly outside, customers now have the option to provide their phone numbers. The restaurant staff will then notify them via phone call or through KakaoTalk, a popular messaging app in Korea when their table is ready. This approach has become the standard waiting practice.
If you plan to make a reservation, it’s worth noting that a Korean phone number is typically required. If you lack one, consider finding the best-suited Korean SIM card here. Please remember that portable WIFI devices and eSIMs do not furnish a Korean phone number; you need a physical USIM card for this purpose.
If you’re only in Korea for a few days and think buying a SIM card is unnecessary, don’t worry! Kindly approach the restaurant staff, explain that you are a foreigner without a Korean phone number, and they may allow you to wait on-site.
Tip #3: Harness the Power of Online Reservations
Fortunately, numerous Korean restaurants offer the convenience of online reservations through dedicated apps like Catch Table, Tableling, Yesir, and more. Naver, a widely adopted reservation platform, is popular among Korean eateries. You can directly secure a reservation by locating your desired restaurant on Naver. However, note that a verified Naver account and proficiency in Korean are prerequisites, which may pose a challenge for tourists.
Tip #4: Enlist the Help of a Korean Friend
If you have friends in Korea, consider enlisting their assistance in making reservations using the apps mentioned earlier. Alternatively, if you’re staying at a hotel, the accommodating staff may be willing to lend a hand in securing a reservation for you.
Tip #5: Opt for Takeout Delights
In cases where a restaurant is exceptionally crowded and time is of the essence, opting for takeout can be a viable solution. Given Korea’s prevalent food delivery culture, most restaurants offer takeout services. To confirm whether takeout is available, check for the word “포장 (Po-Jang)” displayed within the restaurant. Alternatively, you can inquire with the staff using the phrase “포장 가능한가요? (Po-Jang Ga-Neung-Han-Ga-Yo)” or simply request “Take Out” in English. They will understand your preference.
Additionally, selecting takeout may even earn you a discount, further enhancing your dining experience. Should you desire to relish delectable cuisine without enduring extensive waits, this option presents a reasonable and enticing alternative.
With these tips for dining out in Korea in your arsenal, you are well-equipped to navigate the vibrant and popular restaurant scene in Korea. Whether you embrace the waiting game, leverage online reservations, or explore takeout options, your culinary adventures in Korea will surely be unforgettable.
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