Best-of Guides Seoul

Rice Dishes of Korea, China, and Japan

3 Restaurants
Although Korea, China, and Japan are geographically close, they have different food cultures. Here are some of the restaurants that serve rice dishes from East Asia that can be tasted in Korea.
Updated on 16 August 2022

As neighboring countries, Korea, China, and Japan share a similar food culture, but there are considerable distinctions among all three nations in terms of recipes. For instance, they all use rice as their staple food, but the type of rice and the way it is prepared vary greatly across these countries.

In Korea, rice is the staple dish. However, in China, where meals consist of fan (rice) and cai (side dish), cai or a main dish is eaten before a rice dish, so rice is part of a course meal and not a main dish. As for Japan, although its cuisine shares many attributes with its Korean counterpart, rice tends to be approached more as an ingredient for sushi or maki.

The following three eateries offer the three countries’ representative rice dishes that are related yet noticeably distinct.

A Flower Blossom on the Rice
3-6 Insadong 16-gil, Jongno-gu, 03146 Seoul
₩ · Korean

Bojagi Bibimbap

Bibimbap is a representative Korean dish, where a wide array of vegetables, seasonings, and condiments are interspersed in harmony to create a synergy of flavors. According to history, the dish was originally known as goldongban. Bibimbap is the very epitome of ordinary Korean cuisine although there are regional and seasonal variations in ingredients and tastes. In particular, the kind temptingly garnished with herbs and vegetables in various colors and served in a brass bowl is referred to as kkotbap, or flower rice, as it evokes the image of a pot adorned with flowers. The bibimbap dish served at A Flower Blossom on the Rice welcomes guests with its aesthetic appearance, where rice and seasoned greens are wrapped in a yellow omelet like a gift wrapped in a wrapping cloth. On top of this, the use of organic ingredients makes the nourishment offered up even more pleasing to the palate.

4F, 41 Hakdong-ro 97-gil, Gangnam-gu, 06072 Seoul
₩₩ · Japanese

Seasonal Pot Rice

Takikomi gohan, which means “mixed rice” in Japanese, is a dish where rice is cooked with a variety of ingredients, such as mushrooms, vegetables, and fish. It is characterized by the abundant use of widely diverse seasonal ingredients. Tenjimon serves up Seasonal Pot Rice. Particularly in spring, rice cooked with plenty of fragrant seasonal herbs, including daylilies, victory onion, fatsia shoots, and Chinese pepper, accompanied by soybean paste mixed with barley, is a true delight for the taste buds. What’s more, the chewy texture of the rice and the scent of the herbs immerse the diner in the vibe of the season.

Jin Jin
60 World Cup buk-ro 1-gil, Mapo-gu, 04031 Seoul
₩₩ · Chinese

XO Fried Rice

In Chinese cuisine, the history of fried rice dates back more than 2,000 years. Chao fan, or fried rice, is the most common Chinese dish. The key to tasty chao fan is to ensure that the rice grains do not stick together. Dubbed the “godfather of the Korean-Chinese food industry,” Chef Wang Yuk-sung has created a dish known as XO Fried Rice imbued with his many years of culinary experience. Rice, seafood, and vegetables fried with his custom-made XO sauce; their seemingly plain yet well-balanced flavor and aroma; and rice grains that pop in your mouth all reflect the chef’s culinary virtuosity. That may explain why fried rice is always on the menu.