For lovers of food and all things Korean - let us tell you about the "Taste of Seoul" food festival. "Taste of Seoul" is the self-proclaimed one and only food festival in Seoul and was a seven-day event that happened on September 16 - 22, 2023. This year's festival has happened but there's always next year!
Let's take a look at this year's spread. Get it?
The "Taste of Seoul" festival aims to showcase and promote Seoul's "distinct" and "diverse" culinary culture. Every year 30 gourmet curators and experts work alongside the government to highlight 100 restaurants and bars around Seoul that encapsulate the culinary essence of the city. A variety of categories were included Korean, Western, Asian, Grills, Vegan, Cafes & Desserts, and Bars & pubs.
HERE is a guide and map to the 100 Taste of Seoul.
The main programs of the festival include (links included):
Did you know that you can take food tours as part of the '"aste of Seoul'"festival? Wow.
Here's a brief intro to the above programs:
Taste of Seoul Market
This event is held in a farmer's market in Seoul, which is "created by small roasters nestled
in urban alleys and fermenters utilizing local wisdom and ingredients."
The concept of this market is so creative. It focuses on coffee and liquors and allows people to explore and nestle themselves in the many diverse alleys in Seoul. Another focus is seasonal foods and desserts paired with traditional liquors.
The market also had "Docent Programs and Workshops" to increase engagement as part of Seoul's brewery coffee roastery's civic engagement program.
There were also "recycle and reuse booths" and musical performances by the Label Le French Code.
Seoul Restaurant Week
In the Seoul Restaurant Week portion of the festival, a list of curated restaurants is provided for people to try special menus and dishes created by the restaurants for the "Taste of Seoul" experience.
Here is a visual guide to three of the restaurants on the "Taste of Seoul" Restaurant Week list:
A Flower Blossom on the Rice
Seoul Market Dining (as per the "Taste of Seoul" website)
"A tasty encounter at traditional markets where merchants meet popular places"
There are six markets included in the Seoul Market portion of the festival. We look at two below!
Geumnamvin: Geumnam Market
Geumnamvin is a bistro bar specializing in natural wine located in Geumgho-dong.
"They offer a variety of delicious dishes that perfectly complement their extensive wine selection. The name "Vin" has a dual meaning, both "wine" in French and "room" in Korean. Geumnamvin strives to become a welcoming and cozy wine bar, just like a guest room in Geumho-dong."
— (Taste of Seoul)
Instagram profile: https://www.instagram.com/geumnam_vin/?hl=en
Haejindwi: Mangwon Market
"If you're looking for a delicious meal made with fresh ingredients, Haejindwi is the perfect spot for you. This Korean pub has been offering chef-selected courses since 2019, using only the freshest seasonal ingredients from Mangwon Market. Their menu changes every quarter, except for the signature dish. Plus, it's a cozy and relaxing environment to enjoy a refreshing drink."
— (Taste of Seoul)
Instagram profile: https://www.instagram.com/haejindwi/
Taste of Seoul Tour: Taste of Seoul Night Tour with Locals
This program in the festival consists of tours that you can take in Seoul for dinner which cover the following areas:
Gwangjang Market → Euljiro Street → Ikseong-dong → Cheonggyecheon Stream → Jongno 3-ga Pocha Street
The cost of the tour is 115,000 won and it takes four hours. It is led by a local tour guide in both Korean and English and requires a minimum of 10 people to participate.
Here is the Tour Description as per the website:
"Explore the vibrant late-night culture of Korea by joining dinner gatherings and enjoying local snacks. You'll have the opportunity to savor a variety of traditional foods, such as Korean-style raw beef with sliced raw octopus, bindaetteok, and chimaek (chicken with beer). By joining the tour, you can meet people from all over the world and experience the unique culture that's known only to the locals." (Taste of Seoul)
100 Taste of Seoul Award & Seoul Reception
This is the program where the winners of the 'Taste of Seoul 2023' were announced.
You can take a glimpse of the 2022 awards receptions below:
You can see who the winners of the awards were HERE for 2023.
Below is a video for the winner of the Best Western Award:
The last program on the "Taste of Seoul" list is Signature Pop-Up and as the title states these are pop-up restaurants and include four restaurants.
The signature pop-ups were held on the 18th and 19th of September, 2023, and included the restaurants featured in the slides below:
Here is the description for the Green Villa: The Green Table X villa aida:
"A Korean and a Japanese chef join hands, who both delicately bring the tastes of vegetables in season to the table. Chef Kobayashi Kanji of Villa Aida leads sustainable gastronomy in Japan with farm-to-table actions. Chef Kim Eun-hee of The Green Table presents her Korean French, adding fermentation techniques and temple food aesthetics to the seasonal Korean ingredients. The two organize a signature pop-up to add glamor to Taste of Seoul. A dinner surrounded by a sweetly traditional landscape near the Changdeokgung Palace-it's one opportunity you don’t want to miss out on!" (Taste of Seoul)
Overall, it sounds like a delicious experience! Unfortunately, for a foodie like myself I missed out on this year's festival but know that I know and you know too, we have a chance to check it out next year! The festival's diversity and purpose of featuring the flavors of Seoul made me feel even more love for the city. The food in Seoul is delicious and definitely shines even more on this platform: Taste of Seoul. Would you go to the 'Taste of Seoul' Festival? Comment below!