Finding good Korean food in Philadelphia can be an adventure. Koreatown is about twenty-minutes north of the hotel in the heart of Philly. Here are our top spots for kimchi, gogigui, and everything in between:
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The casual and unassuming decor of Seorabol belies its bold assortment of classic Korean dishes. Most notable, perhaps, is the variety of banchan to start meals. These small plates range from fishcakes to kimchi to bean sprout salad, to pickled peppers and broiled mackerel (in other words, bring your appetite). Korean BBQ is what Seorabol is known for, however, and the sweet-marinated meats also please. The best choice is the kalbi (or Korean-style short ribs) which is always remarkably tender. For some heat, try the spicy ribs, which are soaked in a hot, peppery marinade.
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This hole-in-the-wall, take-out only, Asian fusion spot serves some of the best Korean-style fried chicken in the city. Every bite is loaded with layers of crispy batter, which is fried double the amount called for in an American recipe. Six sauce choices complement the main staple: sweet chili, honey garlic, golden soy, sweet BBQ, cajun, and hot and spicy. Be prepared—the wings are slathered in sticky sauce and can get messy. Nothing can outshine the chicken, but grab the tried-and-true butter egg and rice for a tasty side dish. Tip: call-in your order ahead of time.
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Jason’s—with its plain tables, chairs and sharpie-scribbled black walls—isn’t a fine-dining experience, but the spectacular food does leave an impression. The large rice balls, joomukbap, are a must-order; they’re sprinkled with shredded seaweed and served with a choice of kimchi, tuna or beef flavor. A local favorite, the cheese corn is even simpler—sweet and seasoned buttered corn with cheese melted over the top. For the main course, the odeng is a dish of savory, soft fish cakes offering the perfect vehicle for a simple, salty, scallion-topped soup. Jason’s is open Wednesday through Saturday and is a late-nite spot, so you can check it out from 6pm to after midnight.
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Giwa is a Center City cafeteria-style spot known for its Korean tacos, which are stacked with spicy pork or chicken, cheddar cheese, sour cream, onion, cilantro, rice, lettuce, and lime juice. The creative combination of Mexican taco staples with Korean meat and sauce yields layers of savory flavors. Two tacos compose an order, but we recommend springing for three. Also check out the stone pot options. With everything from shrimp and beef to tofu or vegetarian dolsot bibimbap, each is filling, tasty, and served sizzling. Try to avoid this popular lunch spot during the lunchtime hours, as it gets pretty packed.