Aside from the heart-fluttering romances, many Korean dramas find their way to our hearts through our stomachs. That is, by having food as the central theme or driving force of the story. Whether you’re a culinarian looking for kitchen creation ideas or a foodie daydreaming about a food tour in South Korea, it’s fun to learn about the country’s cuisine and relate with Koreans’ love for food while watching a good story unfold.
Make adjustments to your K-drama binge list and put these shows at the top:
Dae Jang Geum / Jewel in the Palace (2003)
Based on true Joseon-era accounts, Dae Jang Geum follows the journey of Jang-geum (Lee Young-ae) where she rises from the low class to be the first female royal physician to the king. She takes us along on an exploration of traditional Korean cuisine as she alternates between working in the kitchen and caring for the king’s health using food.
For fans of the show, check out this MBC Dae Jang Geum Park Tour in Yongin, Gyeonggi-do!
My Name Is Kim Sam-Soon (2005)
It’s hard not to love Kim Sam-soon, a curvaceous and cheeky girl with a knack for baked pastries. She becomes a pastry chef at the French restaurant of Jin-heon (Hyun Bin) who also contracts her to be his pretend girlfriend. Despite her animated character, Sam-soon has a lot of insecurities with herself—which a lot of people can relate to, especially the struggles of dieting. Still, there’s no holding back on sweets and romance here!
If Sam-soon’s cakes and pastries make you drool, get your fill of healthy sugar rush from Miss B.
Aside from street food and homey Korean restaurants, cafes serving continental specialties are also easy to find in Seoul. If you’re a pasta lover like many Koreans, then the aptly titled drama Pasta will definitely make you hungry.
Parasite star Lee Sun-kyun plays a misogynist head chef who’s resistant to a female junior chef played by Gong Hyo-jin. Many pasta dishes later, he eventually softens as they share a common passion for Italian cuisine.
Flower Boy Ramen Shop (2011)
Sick of your instant ramen at home? In this mouthwatering Korean drama, you’ll get a peek into the beauty of creating and customizing real ramen! The story is centered around a ramen shop run by flower boys and Yang Eun-bi (Lee Chung-ah) who’s torn between two of them.
This ramen shop was an inheritance from Eun-bi’s father not to her but to Choi Kang-hyuk (Lee Ki-woo) as his way of cooking up a marriage for his daughter. However, an unexpected love triangle simmers as Cha Chi-soo (Jung Il-woo) joins the picture.
Wok of Love (2018)
It’s always more fun to venture into little alleys overshadowed by giant hotels and skyscrapers to find restaurants like Hungry Wok in this K-drama. A castoff star chef, a bankrupt heiress, and a group of former gangsters—an eclectic mix of characters run the restaurant to produce dishes that will beat the six-star hotel just across the street.
The savory buns, steaming dumplings, and hot wonton noodles are sure to make you want to go on a Chinese food hopping in Binondo Chinatown. There are also more familiar dishes that you thought were original Korean delicacies but actually had Chinese influences, such as jjajangmyeon and tangsuyuk.
Sweet Munchies (2020)
This latest K-drama is worth watching not only for its various presentations of Korean comfort food but also for its rare flavor of queer love affairs. Jung Il-woo, Lee Hak-joo, and Kang Ji-young together form a flavorful love triangle that’s very refreshing to watch. And no, Kang Ji-young is not at the center of it.
Looking for more ways to satisfy your cravings? Check out all the treats and food-themed experiences you can get on KKday!