Whether you're visiting or living in Korea there are days when you might be tight on cash. Korea isn't the cheapest country to buy food but it is not impossible. If you are new to Korea and short on cash or just don't want to spend a lot of money here are some places where you can have a decent meal.
Hansot Dosirak is everywhere in Korea. Prices range from 2,500 won-10,000 won. There are about 20 or more different meals to choose from. If you are in a rush the service is very fast, I have never waited longer than 5 minutes for my meal.
Korean restaurants ALWAYS have the cheapest meals. Not necessarily in terms of the quality but price. You can go to a Korean restaurant and get a bowl of rice with veggies or a hot soup with bulgogi, even ramen for under 5,000. If you can't read hangul, like me, just go and pick something random on the menu and see what you get, I bet you won't be disappointed. Although, I may be a bit biased because I love Korean food.
There are specific restaurants that only serve kimbap/gimbap. Kimbap comes from the Korean words K(G)im=seaweed and Bap= Rice. Kimbap is a dish made of steamed white rice and other ingredients, rolled in gim (seaweed) and served in bite-size slices similar to sushi (but never say that to a Korean). There are lots of different types you can get; bulgogi (Korean beef), Tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet), vegetarian (egg, radish, carrot), fried shrimp (my favorite) etc. A roll, which has 8 slices usually costs about 3,000 won depending on the toppings.
Where else would you buy meals when you are broke? Of course a convenience store. We've all done it in University, even as children. GS25 and CU are the most popular convenience stores in Korea. In the fridge they actually have a pretty good selection of food. I've gotten burgers, a slice of pizza, sushi, sandwiches and other things when I had no food and didn't want to grocery shop or even drunk. They food is pretty decent and best of all cheap! I always buy my favourite Korean soups like the spicy tofu soup and seaweed soup for 3,000 won each. They are so good!!
You can find Korean food tents (Pojangmacha) everywhere in Korea. Buying food from them is very cheap and also fresh. They have foods like ttekbokki (rice cake in a sauce), mandu (Korean dumplings), odeng (fish cake) and other Korean food. The prices differ from place to place but usually the price is about 1,500 ~ 3,000 won. I must say Myeongdong has the best selection and variety of street food I have ever seen here.
Bongousse aka "bap" burger (rice burger) are very popular in Korea. Essentially they are burgers without the buns, instead the have rice acting like the buns. If you're like me then you rather eat burgers with lettuce or those thing burger buns. I do like this idea, I would have never thought to eat a burger with rice. I think I've had it about two or three times. The last time I had dakgalbi (spicy chicken with gochujang sauce) and it was so good. They are pretty cheap, 1 bap burger is about 3,000 won and they are pretty big and filling. There are so many options to choose from and the prices vary. They are located everywhere in Korea.
Kamome is a Japanese fast food restaurant. They have onigiri, rice boxes and noodle dishes. The dishes range from around 1,400 won for a basic origiri and about 4,000 for a rice box. Most of the dishes are pretty good and filling.
There many other hole in the wall places to eat cheap in Korea all you have to do is wander around and find them. Make sure to give these places a try even if you aren't trying to save money.
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