Various: Food in North Korea
There is not much point in reviewing individual restaurants in North Korea, as visitors have no opportunity to go out and try a restaurant of their own choice. Tours are fully escorted, and visitors will be taken to a specific restaurant for a set meal.
Although is relatively little choice over the food provided, most meals take the form of a variety of small dishes, so you can to some extent choose what you actually eat, and it was generally very tasty. The selection generally includes some form of soup, vegetables, fish, meat, hard-boiled eggs or omelette, as well as the ubiquitous kimchi (spicy pickled cabbage.) Meals like this were provided at both lunch and dinner, which is rather more than I would usually eat in a day. In Kaesong we had a rather more elaborate version of the set meal, described as a royal banquet.
The only actual menu choice we had was ‘rice or noodle’ for the filler provided at the end of the meal. The noodles were Pyongyang cold noodles – a large bowl containing a tight knot of pre-cooked buckwheat noodles in cold water, with a garnish of a slice of meat and hard boiled egg. You go in with your chopsticks and tease the noodles apart, adding spicy sauce to taste. We tried these on our first night, but preferred the rice, which comes studded with small cubes of meat and vegetables, and did not require such advanced level chopstick skills as the noodles. After we had both chosen rice at two successive meals, we were not offered noodles again.
To accompany the meals, water or local beer were provided, along with tea. On New Year's Eve were also given rice wine, which is milky in appearance, with a slightly sour taste which I found quite pleasant.
A couple of times we ate in the KITC restaurant in Pyongyang where the selection of dishes included cooked sausage and strips of potato in a batter, meaning that it was technically possible to have North Korean version of the great British ‘sausage, egg and chips.’
Variations on the standard set meal are barbecue, where you cook your own slices of meat (pork, beef and octopus or squid) on a hotplate over a brazier, and hotpot, where you boil sliced meat, vegetables and egg in a pot at the table. We had barbecue on our first night and a special duck barbecue on our last night. We also had hotpot on one occasion, and on New Year’s Eve, as a treat, we had a small pizza alongside the other dishes.
Aside from sliced fruit on occasion, there was no dessert, except on New Year’s Day, when a coconut cake was served to us at lunchtime (before the main dishes), and our guides provided a special New Year cake in the evening as it was our last night and also a double birthday celebration for my husband and one of the guides. Very nice it was too!Related to:
- Food and Dining
Kaesong - Tongil Restaurant: Traditional Korean pansanggi
This restaurant was right opposite where we were staying at the Kaesong Folk Hotel and we came here for lunch after visiting Panmunjom. The meal we ate was a traditional Korean one called pansanggi which consisted of 13 small brass dishes, each containing different types of food such as kimchi, rice, pickles and vegetables. A pansanggi meal was usually only eaten by royalty.Add to your Trip Planner
Ryonggak Mountain picnic lunch: Eating al-fresco
After we had visited Kim Il Sung's birth place at Mangyongdae, we had an outside barbeque picnic lunch at a place called Ryonggak Mountain. Again the food was excellent and a food way to cook and eat. We had, what we hoped were, beef and duck on skewers which we cooked on a small grill on the table, salad, bread and more bottles of beer.Add to your Trip Planner
Pyongyang No.1 Duck Barbeque: Great food and fun as well
We came here on our last evening in North Korea and the food was top rate. It was a duck barbeque restaurant where you cooked the food yourselves at your table and was good fun. Included were bottles of beer and even some rice wine.Add to your Trip Planner
Lunch on day 2: Traditional Korean cooking
This was lunch on our first full day in Pyongyang in a restaurant opposite some embassies, including Romania and Iran, on a street called Sariwon Street in the east of the city. Don't ask me what the restaurant was called but the food was great. You cooked it yourself in a small pot in front of you which was good fun.Add to your Trip Planner
Pyongyang - Yanggakdo Hotel Restaurants: Not bad but not as good as one's in the city
We ate a couple of times in two of the Yanggakdo Hotels restaurants. The first night of the tour we ate at the No.2 restaurant and had soup/bread, beef burger, salad and beer served to us by girls wearing traditional Korean dresses. We also had breakfast every morning which consisted of toast, eggs, coffee and yoghurt. The food was fairly good but not as good as other restaurants that we went out to in the city.Add to your Trip Planner
No name: You can't choose restaurant
1. You can't choose restaurant. They'll take you where they plan to.
2. Buffet breakfast means: you are sitting and waitress is bringing piece by piece to you.
3. Korean barbecue was the best thing we ate.
4. Korean food isn't that bad, but then..nothing special.
5. You won't starve. They take care for visitors.
6. You can't order "something" else.
7. Even if you don't eat meat, sometimes they just forget.
8. You can always buy some nibbles in hotel shop (coala bear filled with chocolate was the best buy)
9. They serve you beer (lunch and dinner).
10. Everything is included in price of tour.Add to your Trip Planner
one of several: Don't underestimate food in North Korea
Writing a review of an individual restaurant is rather pointless because as a visitor to North Korea you won't have any saying on which one to chose anyway. The guides (or more likely their bosses or the bosses' bosses or the....) will decide for you.
An educated guess would be that there are about a dozen restaurants serving foreigners. All of them state owned of course.
I must say that the food I had during my visit was quite ok. The Koreans are eager to show tourists the best they've got, so there is no reason to fear that you have to live on rice with...eh...rice for a week.
Several times we had hot pot which (at least the two first times) was really nice. At most meals they served kimchi, Korean cabbage. I thought it was delicious and it didn't take more than a week after my return home that I went looking for it in Asian food shops.
In many restaurants you sit on the floor eating which for the unpractised can be quite uncomfortable.
Favorite Dish: Kimchi!Related to:
- Food and Dining
Everywhere in DPRK: Food in General
Honestly, food is surprising good (at least to an asian like me). You'll be served with local food most of the time and can almost bet that there'll be Kim Chi on your table for every single meal. Personally the food actually taste better than those in south korea. Perhaps, the favouring is milder. You can bet that you are serve as a worthy guest when it comes to food there.Add to your Trip Planner
The famous BBQ duck restaurant: DIY cooking in North Korea
So, like with most of the things you will do in North Korea, there will be little alternative but to accept the places you visit and restaurants you eat in. The pick of the bunch in Pyongyang, would have to be the BBQ duck restaurant. The tables are set up so you grill within the constraints of your chair and along side are various dips, sauces and side dishes. All in all a fun 'fondue' style approach to eating. Add in a bottle of snake-wine for authenticity.
Like everything on the tour you dont need to fork out cash as it will normally be all inclusive - except for a little beer maybe.
Favorite Dish: The duck, but of course.Add to your Trip Planner
A Kaesong restaurant: Lunch stop
We were served up a treat of local dishes at our stop at the border town of Kaesong which is a 20min drive from the DMZ. The variety of local cusine set out in mini dishes made this by far, the most interesting meal had in North Korea. including, seaweed, fish, assorted meat dishes and of course the usual round of Kimchi - pickled cabbage.
Favorite Dish: All. The variety was the appealAdd to your Trip Planner
Hotel Mt. Kumkang: Bibimbop (Mixture of rice and grass)
This ONLY hotel is actually 'motel' and has only one restaurant. We couldn't help eating this food. I'm pretty expert at making and enjoying the Bibimbop (one of the easiest Korean food), but North Korean Bibimbop is radically different. It tastes something raw.Add to your Trip Planner
Yanggakdo Hotel: Only one bottle please
I had my first meal and then had a couple of beers with my meal. After dinner when I met up with my minders they then told me that one beer is free per day. After that is extra. Thanks guys.
Favorite Dish: The beer U(although the label is guaranteed to fall off.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Theme Park Trips
North Korean Food...
Beside the Food we got at the Yangakkdo Hotel (which was excellent, too excellent for such a county) we had a few times lunch/dinner at other places.
- Once we had lunch near the Friendship Exhibition near Myohyang Mountains in a old building which was a hotel, it was EMPTY.
- Once near the DMZ at Panmunjom (after the entrance to the DMZ to turn left)
- We went to a restaurant in South Pyongyang near the Worker Party Monument, the restaurant was very nice and people have been very friendly, I liked to Korean Beer very much!
- Once we went to a Duck Restaurant in Pyongyang and there have also been other North Koreans (no other tourists), the restaurant was excellent and it was fun to have dinner together with our guides.Add to your Trip Planner
Korean Restaurant, Yanggakdo...
Korean Restaurant, Yanggakdo Hotel
Farewell dinner together with minders.
Favorite Dish: Food
You will not get hungry (if you do not eat like Romans). There is standard to have a continental breakfast, lunch and dinner. Normally, you will eat without your guides, but if you are in a restaurant outside hotel and at the farewell dinner you guides will be accompanied. Dog meat (tastes like reindeer if it helps to choose) is provided in the farewell dinner by request.Add to your Trip Planner
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