Korean cuisine has become a global phenomenon in recent years, winning over fans with its complex flavors, shareable dishes, and healthy ingredients. Dubai is home to a booming Korean food scene driven by its large Korean expat population. This guide explores the top Korean restaurants to visit in Dubai for authentic barbecue, stews, noodles and more.
Overview of Korean Food in Dubai
While Korean eats can be found across Dubai, several neighborhoods have become hubs for legit Korean fare. Areas like Bur Dubai, Garhoud, and Dubai Healthcare City are full of hole-in-the-wall gems and casual eateries catering to Korean expats.
For upscale Korean dining, five-star hotel restaurants like Arirang at the Conrad Dubai or Namu at the new SLS Dubai serve refined renditions of classics. Trendy Korean-inspired concepts can be found around the city too, like Seoul Sunset BBQ and Dampa Seafood Grill.
Barbecue and grilled meats are a key part of Dubai’s Korean food scene. Marinated galbi, bulgogi, and samgyeopsal sizzle over charcoal at nearly every restaurant. Classic stews, kimchi pancakes, and noodle dishes like jjajangmyeon also abound. Bibimbap mixed rice bowls make for perfect one-dish meals.
Notable Korean Restaurants in Dubai
Here are some of the most popular and praised Korean eateries to check out in Dubai:
With locations in Barsha, Garhoud and Mirdif, Koreana is a local favorite for brisket bbq, spicy stews, kimchi jjigae, and other Korean staples in a casual setting. Their all-you-can-eat BBQ draws crowds.
Tucked away in Bur Dubai’s Korea Town, this humble spot excels at classic home-style dishes and banchan side dishes. Their bulgogi, mandu dumplings, army stew, and kimchi pancakes are standouts. Cash only.
Attracting droves of Korean expats, Guru Krupa is a top choice for its outstanding barbecue dishes including marinated short rib, brisket, and spicy pork paired beautifully with banchan.
With origins in Seoul, Ariyoshi offers refined upscale Korean dining in Dubai. Creative dishes like bulgogi tacos, bibimbap cones, and kimchi risotto join staples like army stew on the contemporary menu.
Namu at SLS Dubai
Celeb chef Deuki Hong heads this trendy Korean steakhouse at the SLS Dubai. High-end meat cuts like wagyu join Korean-Mexican fusion bites and elaborate barbecue presentations.
Seoul Sunset BBQ
Blending Korean flavors with American barbecue, Seoul Sunset BBQ is a hip spot to feast on inventive Korean tacos, bulgogi burgers, ribs and more in a lively setting with regular DJs and entertainment.
What to Expect at a Korean Restaurant in Dubai
From dining customs to what to wear and order, here’s an overview on visiting a Korean eatery:
- Sharing dishes Korean-style is encouraged, so come in groups. Order an array of items.
- Grilling meats tableside at barbecue spots adds an interactive element. Take part in cooking.
- Similarly priced to other international cuisine. Budget AED 150-200 per person at mid-range spots.
- Smart casual dress is fine. Barbecue restaurants may offer functional jackets to protect clothing.
- Complimentary banchan side dishes come with meals. Sample a variety for the full experience.
- Soups and stews often arrive still boiling hot and can be cooked tableside.
- Soju, makgeolli and Korean beer are common drinks to accompany.
- Service can be brisk but friendly. Expect language barriers at smaller spots.
- Using a translator app helps explain dietary restrictions or ask questions on unfamiliar menu items.
Popular Korean Dishes to Try in Dubai
Expand your Korean culinary knowledge with these classics found on local menus:
BBQ Short Ribs (Galbi)
Marinated short beef ribs roasted over flames have that prized interplay of fatty and tender. Dubai’s Korean spots do short rib right. Go with the grilled beef over rice sets.
Spicy Pork BBQ (Bulgogi)
Thin slices of pork belly or shoulder get a sweet and savory marinade with a kick before hitting the grill. Wrapping charred pieces in lettuce is part of the fun.
A bowl of rice topped with sauteed veggies, gochujang sauce, egg and often beef defines this satisfying one-dish meal where ingredients mix with each bite. Addictive.
Kimchi Pancake (Kimchijeon)
Crispy savory pancakes studded with piquant fermented kimchi make a stellar appetizer or snack. The contrast of creamy dough and crunchy kimchi is appealing.
Spicy Noodles (Jjamppong)
Noodles in a bright red, ultra-spicy broth packed with seafood and vegetables will break a sweat. Jjamppong noodle soups are a fiery Korean delight.
Army Stew (Budae Jjigae)
This inventive stew originated from creative cooking of army rations. Today it combines kimchi, sausage, spam and ramen noodles into a mouthwatering medley.
Grilled Mackerel (Godeungeo Gui)
Gutsy flavors come from simply grilling fresh mackerel served alongside chili pepper paste for dipping. A common dinner dish turned restaurant staple.
Reviews of Top Korean Restaurants in Dubai
Here’s what diners are saying about favorite local Korean eateries:
Guru Krupa – “The best Korean BBQ I’ve found outside of Seoul. Perfectly marinated galbi and brisket with great banchan. Busy for a reason.”
Sonamu – “For homestyle Korean cuisine, Sonamu can’t be beat. Their kimchi pancake, noodles and fried chicken were outstanding.”
Seoul Sunset BBQ -“Fun place for Korean-inspired tacos, burgers and other fusion dishes alongside soju cocktails. Festive barbecue joint.”
Koreana – “We left stuffed and satisfied from the all you can eat Korean BBQ at Koreana. Quality meats and banchan worthy of repeat visits.”
Namu – “Upscale modern Korean cuisine at Namu from a celebrity chef. Creative dishes and flawless execution in a swanky atmosphere.”
Tips for Getting the Most Out of Dubai’s Korean Restaurants
Follow these expert tips for an optimal Korean dining experience in Dubai:
- At barbecue spots, go for the pork belly and short ribs. They take marinades best.
- -eel free to request adjustments to spice level or sauce flavors. Most chefs are happy to oblige.
- Skip utensils and use lettuce wraps to pick up meats and side dishes – the Korean way.
- Always get a combo that includes banchan to sample various kimchi, pickled and salad side dishes.
- Rice and soup come free with meals. Take advantage to balance the grill items.
- For stews, ask if they can turn down the heat so you can enjoy the complex flavors longer.
- Order the kimchi pancake – you won’t regret chomping into the crispy seasoned exterior hiding melted kimchi inside.
- Don’t be afraid to ask servers to explain or recommend menu items if it’s your first time.
Frequently Asked Questions About Korean Restaurants in Dubai
What are the price ranges for Korean restaurants in Dubai?
Budget spots have entrees for AED 25-50. Casual restaurants are about AED 50-100 per entree. Upscale Korean starts at AED 150+ per main dish.
What Korean dishes are vegetarian friendly?
Bibimbap, vegetable pancakes, glass noodles, and kimchi fried rice can all be made meatless. Banchan are mostly veggie too. Convey “no meat” to servers.
Can you get deliveries from Korean restaurants?
Yes, many are available on delivery apps like Zomato, Talabat and Deliveroo. Dishes like bibimbap and stews travel well.
What Korean alcohol is available?
Soju and makgeolli are the most common Korean alcohols. Hite and Cass Korean beer are popular too. Sake also pairs well.
Do all Korean places offer barbecue?
While grilled meats are extremely popular, many also excel at stews, soups, bibimbap and other Korean classics. Check menus to confirm barbecue is available.
Are Korean restaurants suitable for big groups?
Yes, sharing Korean barbecue and nibbling on banchan is best enjoyed in big groups. Many have large tables to accommodate big parties.
Is Korean food spicy?
It can be, but just specify you want no or low spice. Many dishes like stews feature complex flavor over high heat. Banchan offer variety of spices.
What should you wear to Korean BBQ?
Smart casual is fine. Some provide jackets to stay clean but layers help with grilling smoke. Don’t wear your best clothes just in case.
Any tips for saving money?
Lunch specials, sharing combos, and sticking to weekdays provide the best value. Prices are quite reasonable already.
Is Korean food healthy?
Very! With lean meats, veggies, fish and tons of probiotic kimchi, Korean offers a nutritious cuisine based around rice, vegetables and herbs. Banchan sides are unlimited.
The Best Dishes for Korean Food Beginners
If new to Korean fare, start out with these accessible yet iconic dishes in Dubai:
- Bulgogi (BBQ Beef) – Tender grilled marinated beef is a Korean grill classic. Addictive.
- Bibimbap – Straightforward rice bowl where beef, veggies and egg get mixed tableside.
- Kimchi Jjigae – Hearty kimchi stew with tofu and pork is mildly spicy and satisfying.
- Mandu (Dumplings) – Pan-fried pork dumplings are basically Korean potstickers.
- Dakgangjeong (Fried Chicken) – Crispy boneless fried chicken in a sticky, savory sauce.
- Kimchi Pancake – Part crepe, part omelet with crunchy pickled veggies inside. Adored by all.
- Japchae Noodles – Chewy sweet potato glass noodles tossed with veggies and beef.
- Budae Jjigae (Army Stew) – Wacky but delicious combo of kimchi, ramen, sausage and spam.
So embrace your sense of adventure and dive into the fantastic Korean restaurants Dubai has to offer. An avid K-food fanbase means authenticity you can taste in every bite!