One of the best parts of travelling abroad is experiencing a country's cuisine and the amazing flavours it has to offer. Aside from enjoying the delicious food, being able to eat is essential for survival. But what happens if you don't speak the language?
The worst nightmare of travelling to Korea, or anywhere, is ordering the wrong food and not being able to fill your stomach or delight your taste buds. With this article, learn some useful Korean phrases you can use to order food in Korea.
메뉴 좀 주세요. (me-nyu jom ju-se-yo)
Please give us the menu
The first thing you’ll usually ask for upon entering the restaurant is the menu. This phrase, "메뉴 좀 주세요" (me-nyu jom ju-se-yo) translates to "please give us the menu."
Most eateries and restaurants in Korea will have their menus pasted on the walls. However, if you don’t see any menu, you can request for one this way and they will gladly hand you the menu.
Excuse me/Over here, please
When you’ve decided what you want to eat, you can summon the staff by saying “여기요” (yeo-gi-yo), which roughly translates to “excuse me” or “over here, please.” However, before you call for the staff, check to see if your table has any call bells. Many Korean restaurants have a call bell at each table where diners can easily request service.
We would like to order
When approached by a staff, you can let them know that you’re going to place an order by saying “주문할게요” (ju-mun-hal-ge-yo), which means "we would like to order."
제일 맛있는 거 추천해 주세요. (je-il mah-shin-neun geo chu-cheon-hae-ju-se-yo)
Please recommend the best tasting item
Otherwise, if you’re unsure what to order, you can ask the staff to recommend something good for you by saying "제일 맛있는 거 추천해 주세요" (je-il mah-shin-neun geo chu-cheon-hae-ju-se-yo), which translates to "please recommend the best tasting item."
이거 하나 주세요. (i-geo ha-na ju-se-yo)
Please give me one of this
If you’ve decided what you want to order, simply point to the item on the menu and say "이거 하나 주세요" (i-geo ha-na ju-se-yo), which means "please give me one of this". It is recommended that you learn Korean numbers in order to order the correct quantity.
If you are unable to point to the menu and must say the dish name out loud, order them this way "<dish name> 하나 주세요" (<dish name> ha-na ju-se-yo).
이게 뭐예요? (i-ge mwo-ye-yo?)
What is this?
If you come across a dish you’re unfamiliar with and would like to find out more about it, you can ask the staff "이게 뭐예요?" (i-ge mwo-ye-yo?), which means "what is this?"
이거 좀 더 주세요. (i-geo jom deo ju-se-yo)
Please give me more of this
If you want more of the side dishes (반찬 ban-chan) or anything else you’ve been served, say "이거 좀 더 주세요" (i-geo jom deo ju-se-yo) while pointing to each item to easily request for more. This phrase translates to "please give me more of this."
Likewise, if you are unable to point to each item or the staff is unaware of what was served, you can request for each dish this way "<dish name> 좀 더 주세요" (<dish name> jom deo ju-se-yo.)
물 좀 주세요. (mul jom ju-se-yo)
Please give me some water
If you’d like to get some water to drink, you can request for it with this phrase "물 좀 주세요" (mul jom ju-se-yo), which translates to "please give me some water."
I would like to pay
In Korea, once you’re done with your food and would like to make payment, you will have to make your way to the cashier to pay. The dining and payment culture in Korea is very different from most eateries and restaurants in Singapore. You can also inform the staff at the counter by saying “계산할게요” (gye-san-hal-ge-yo), which translates to “I would like to pay.” After payment, it is good to also thank the staff for their service and food on your way out to show appreciation.
We hope that this article has provided you with some useful Korean phrases that will allow you to order food and enjoy the wonderful flavours that Korean cuisine has to offer.
Do you want to learn Korean before your trip? ONLYOU offers Korean language classes in Singapore. Choose to learn Korean in our physical classroom or with our Korean online class. Find out more about our lessons here.