Are you feeling oddly misplaced in a South Korean restaurant owing to the difference in culture? You're not alone. Research has shown that eating equals to well-being among Koreans since their unique cuisine is part of every Korean's identity.
Korean dining customs are completely different from restaurants' customs in other countries, which is why learning the ropes of eating in South Korea is something you may want to do to gel with the crowd. Here are some aspects of Korean restaurant culture and how you can adjust to it.
Have you heard the phrase, first come, first serve? There won't be a host or hostess in most South Korean restaurants to help you get seated. You can walk in and sit virtually anywhere.
Even if you feel like settling down on the floor to have a delicious bowl of stir-fry noodles, you're more than welcome to. But make sure you remove your shoes to adapt to the restaurant culture.
Press a Button to Order
If you thought raising your hand to call the waitress will get you noticed, think again. You'll frequently find a button placed on either the wall, napkin box, or the side of the table. This is how you grab a server's attention in most Korean restaurants.
But if there is no button in the area you're seated, you can say 'excuse me' the way Koreans do, i.e., jeogiyo. Keep in mind that waiters aren't assigned to any table, so that you can call any one of the servers. Additionally, the menu and charges are typically painted on the walls so that you can refer to them anytime.
Unlike traditional restaurants where you'll have waiters set your table for you, South Korean restaurants believe in serving yourself. You may have to prepare your table, fill your glasses and replenish your plates with food.
But don't worry, you won't have to go far, the tableware and utensils are usually placed in a concealed drawer under the table. Just be sure to place the utensils on top of the napkins to blend with the restaurant's culture.
Sharing is Caring
If you're on a night out with your Korean friends, make sure you're not devouring your dish alone. Whether you're dining with a group of people at your home or in a local Korean restaurant, sharing is highly regarded. You should expect to be eating from the same plate or bowl while you're seated around a large table.
If you find a large grill in the table's center and several small side dishes, don't be alarmed. Since these small bowls are shared, they're constantly replenished, so you don't have to worry about your food being consumed by everyone but yourself.
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