Whether you have an experimentative palate or a craving for the jajangmyeon you saw in a K-drama last night, Chennai is where you need to be. The city plays host to several hole-in-the-walls, underrated spots that serve authentic, lip-smacking food. We round up a list of the best Korean restaurants in Chennai to hit up this weekend. By Eshita Srinivas
For years, mainstream menus have sneaked kimchi into sandwiches or tossed it with rice and vegetables. However, Korean cuisine goes far beyond this fermented delicacy. Underscored by complex flavours, fresh ingredients, and a host of side dishes, a Korean spread is believed to be one of the healthiest in the world. That said, there’s plenty of fried chicken, greasy hot dogs, and cheesy ramen in the country’s food culture to balance things out. Combine these with a traditional barbecue, and you’ve got yourself a must-try delicious cuisine.
With the rise of K-pop and K-dramas, delicacies like samgyeopsal and tteokbokki have now become a common sight in restaurants. And as diners seek out more adventurous and unique culinary experiences, it’s likely that almost everything you see your favourite Korean celebrities eat on-screen could soon find its way to your dinner plate. In Chennai, there’s a refreshingly large array of spots serving authentic flavours, courtesy of the city’s large Korean expat population. We’re talking menus brimming with napa cabbage, fermented onions, pork belly, barbecued meats, bread, pastries, and more! We round up a list of the best restaurants in Chennai to get your Korean food fix.
Dig into authentic Korean food at these restaurants in Chennai
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This laidback Korean-Japanese cafe has an extensive menu of fast food, casual bites, and baked goodies. This includes signature options like buldak (fire chicken), padak (chicken and green onion), tangsuyuk (sweet and sour pork), and chef-special chicken. There are also classics like kimchi mandu, Korean fried chicken, ramyun, and japchae to sample. For something more experimental, try their rice burgers with bulgogi, bacon, and chicken. For a sweet treat, pick from their range of baked treats. The red bean donut comes highly recommended.
Address: Ground Floor, Ceebros Apartments, Cenotaph Road, Nandanam, Chennai
Contact: +91 95662 49005
This is one of the most popular places for Korean food in the city, frequented by expats and locals alike. Their no-fuss menu has a range of classics like kimchi fried rice, bibim kalguksu, beef bulgogi, jajangmyeon japchae, and manu. Their gyeran mari (rolled omelette) and bibimbap come recommended. If you’d like something hearty, make your way through the jjigae menu, which features soybeans, kimchi, eggs, pork, and seafood. There’s also Korean fried chicken popularised by dramas. You’ll be spoilt for choice with the options here.
Image: New Seoul Hotels
Address: 406, TTK Road, Alwarpet, Chennai
Contact: +91 98409 90700
This laidback 82-seater Japanese and Korean restaurant has become the local go-to for Korean barbecue and should be on every K-food enthusiast’s radar. The menu is extensive, with options like bibimbap, pork belly, jjampong, gimbap, japchae, and more. The side dishes here include ingredients like cucumber, kimchi, spinach, and chicken have their fan club. Even better, you can wash it all down with several shots of soju. Besides the food, the restaurant draws crowds for its norebang (Korean karaoke room). This place is best enjoyed in large groups.
Image: Jang Won
Address: Shop 2, Link Street, 1st Floor, 4th Main, Kottur Gardens, Guindy, Chennai
Contact: +91 98411 13001
While the name might be misleading, the food at this restaurant is anything but. Their large selection of Korean delicacies includes kimchi fried rice, kalguksu, dakgalbi, gimbap, doenjang jjigae, and more. The menu also has a wide variety of classic fare, divided on the basis of your choice of meat. Vegetarians could try the fried tofu and sweet potato noodles. Do ask the staff if their delicious samgye tang, steamed chicken with Korean ginseng is available on the day.
Address: 24, Wellingdon Estate, Ethiraj Salai, Egmore, Chennai
Contact: +91 90035 42066
This hidden gem is not often spoken of while referring to Korean food in Chennai but has a host of delicious bites on offer. The menu includes kimchi jeon, japchae, jajang ddukbokgi, bulgogi, mandu guk, bibimbap and more. The kimchi pancakes and kimbap come highly recommended. Each meal comes with banchan (side dishes) like sweet potato mash, kimchi, squid, and other salads. You could also choose to get soju with your meal. Portion sizes are generous here.
Image: Another Kitchen
Address: 102/1, Poonamallee High Road, Goparasanallur, Poonamalle, Chennai
Contact: +91 73585 84762
This swanky spot has become one of the most popular restaurants for Korean food, not just in Chennai but also in the country. This spot is also frequented by expats and offers everything from classics like kimbap and ramyun to Korean barbecue and jjampong. The kimchi chicken fried rice, bibim guksu noodles, bulgogi fried rice, and shrimp pancake come highly recommended. A meal here comes with unlimited side dishes and complimentary cinnamon tea. You could also order a bottle of soju for a boozy accompaniment. Diners rave about the quality of meat used for barbeque here, so be sure to sample some while here.
Address: East Ave, Kesavaperumalpuram, Gandhi Nagar, Raja Annamalai Puram, Chennai
Contact: +91 44249 33777
Reminiscent of popular Itaewon bakeries in Seoul, this charming spot in the city has the most delectable Korean baked goodies on offer. The menu includes different varieties of bagels, including sticky rice as well as bread with red beans, custard cream, peanut cream and more. All the baked bites are fresh, spongy, and delicious. You could take home some hot dog buns and other breads to experiment with Korean flavours and recipes yourself.
Image: Isigny Bakery
Address: 3A, Second Main Road, Kasturba Nagar, Adyar, Chennai
Contact: +91 73581 13809
Another charming, underrated spot in the city, this cafe is run by Koreans and offers tea and quick bites. On the menu are a range of delightful teas and sandwiches, and the space has several imported goodies from South Korea on sale. This includes skin care products, snacks, and supplements for good health. You’ll also find framed pictures of K-pop band BTS on the walls here. A visit to this restaurant is incomplete without digging into several of their authentic cheesecakes, the most recommended dish off the menu. Flavours include chocolate, classic, strawberry, and blueberry and the melt-in-the-mouth dessert is eggless. Don’t miss out on this spot if you’re in the city.
Image: J Herb
Address: Velachery Rd, Little Mount, Saidapet, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600015
Contact: +91 95516 51960
Feature and hero image: Jakup Kapusnak/Unsplash
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