TLDR? Medellín is an international city with some excellent Korean restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat!
Medellin is a thriving metropolitan center known for its citizens’ welcoming and friendly nature. It comes as no surprise then that the culinary scene in Medellin is as diverse and wonderful as the people enjoying the food. This is especially true in the cosmopolitan hubs of Poblado and Laureles.
One of my personal favorite kinds of restaurants to go to is Korean. There’s just such a scrumptious array of flavors, textures, and spices. It’s all topped off with thoughtful presentations, rich traditions, and health-friendly probiotic ingredients.
Luckily, Medellin boasts several top-notch Korean restaurants that I took upon myself to visit and sample. Here is what I found.
The History of Koren Food in Medellín
Before we jump into the best places to get Korean food around the city, let’s talk about the history of this food in Medellín.
In the midst of the Korean War, many Koreans immigrated to the Americas and other parts of the world. They did this to escape some of the hardships they experienced in their native country. This phenomenon is known as koryo-saram in Korea.
Most people in the west know about the thriving Korean immigrant communities in places like LA and New York. They maybe are less familiar with the Korean populations that took root in Latin America.
In fact, from Sao Paulo to Mexico City, Santiago to Medellin, there are robust Asian Diaspora communities that have lived and flourished in Latin American countries.
Medellín is one of those places, and as a result, there are some pretty fantastic Korean restaurants around the city. Let’s take a look at them!
SOUL Korean Street Food
Smack dab in the heart of the throbbing perma-party known as El Poblado lies the fashionable and delicious SOUL Korean Street Food. SOUL features a hip, snappy, modern design that filters all the way down from its walls to its menu. This helps it fit right in with the general ambiance of the sometimes-futuristic feeling Poblado neighborhood.
SOUL (its name is a pun on the capital of South Korea, Seoul) has an extensive menu. It takes the classics and decorates them with some personal touches and modern cuisine culture in mind.
I chowed down on their Korean fried chicken bowl. It featured dense nuggets of Korean fried chicken tossed with tangy sauce, rice, and pickled vegetables. I also especially appreciated the creative and varied drink options, which feature an almost build-your-own lemonade bar.
In terms of what to drink, I selected the unique SOUL milki. This was a very curious drink, described as a “yogurt lime soda” on the menu. It made the night for me with its dynamic combination of creaminess, sour flavors, and crisp carbonation. Definitely recommended.
Several delicious house cocktails infuse traditional Korean elements. With a veneer fit for the Tropics. I would recommend a lychee lime beer with an extra soju shot. You know, for that extra insurance that you won’t have any trouble passing out in your dwellings after a wild night out in Poblado.
SOUL also recently opened a more formal sister restaurant a few blocks away in Poblado, SOUL Korean BBQ.
For large parties looking for a venue that’s going to fill their stomachs as well as entertain their constituents, look no further than 678 Korean BBQ.
678 Korean BBQ is Poblado’s take on a certain style of Korean restaurant that has begun to become popular outside of Korea. The meats and ingredients of the BBQ are brought to the table to be cooked to each individual’s preference. There is even the option to cook your own food, should you be feeling confident enough.
The menu at 678 is extensive, featuring dozens of cuts of beef, pork, chicken, and seafood. There are also numerous appetizers and cocktails to supplement your main dining experience. I kept things simple and ordered the kimchi-fried rice with grilled steak, and I wasn’t disappointed.
678 is perhaps on the slightly higher end side, although for most foreigners this still means that the prices are quite economical. The layout of the restaurant and how the food is served also means that there are generous, almost enormous portions doled out. I believe that these portions would satisfy most large parties.
From my own observations, it seemed like 678 is a popular choice for the business crowd of Poblado. I saw sharply dressed men and women in office clothing discussing work, play, and life while their dinners cooked right in front of them.
Nestled into an unassuming first-floor open layout building in Laureles lies the yummy and affordable Oppa Asado. The restaurant has a casual, fun atmosphere that invites a chill demeanor and small parties.
The walls are decorated with entertaining knick-knacks and features that reference Korean culture. When I went, they played some laid-back lounge music that felt both contemporary and vintage.
Oppa Asado has most of the Korean food classics one would come to expect out of a Korean menu. This includes things like bulgogi stir-fries, bi-bim-bop, and samgyopsal. Samgyopsal is thinly sliced pork belly, singed and caramelized—yum!
It also serves up other types of Asian cuisine, such as bowls of ramen. Oppa Asado also has some fun Korean-Latin fusion treats that I would recommend trying. Of particular note are the Kimchi and Bulgogi empanadas, tasty little dynamos of intrigue and flavor.
Another thing to order here is Korean fried chicken, a tasty snack that has become a major phenomenon in the United States. There are also to-go party platters available that would quickly soothe the tempers of a group gripped with hangry frenzy!
The restaurant also sells bulk kimchi either for dine-in or to go. For those who don’t know, kimchi is the product of a very interesting culinary tradition in Korea. It involves fermenting cabbage and other vegetables with various chilis and spices.
Whether you’re looking for a Korean market or you’re after some Korean BBQ, there are plenty of places to go around Medellín. Each one is different from the next, meaning you’ll never get tired of all the options in the city!
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