From traditional barbecue to contemporary takes on age-old recipes, there's plenty of joints offering authentic Korean fare around the UAE. Here are seven we recommend adding to your must-visit list.
The 31st floor of V Hotel Dubai is home to this contemporary Korean spot. It boasts great views of the Dubai Water Canal from its floor-to-ceiling windows and the setting is uber-modern, with a large open kitchen where chefs utilise all sorts of traditional cooking techniques. The menu features a medley of Korean and Japanese cuisine, with ingredients from both countries and classic dishes spanning the likes of sushi, grills and bibim bap. They also do a Korean barbecue brunch.
Kung Korean Restaurant & Karaoke, Dubai
This place is something of an institution in Dubai, with its quirky decor and various sizes of private karaoke rooms, as well as friendly staff. Eat in the main dining area, on pillows at the traditional low tables or while singing your heart out – all of the 100-plus dishes on the menu are extremely authentic and tasty. Just make sure you book well in advance for the weekend if you want to sing/eat at a reasonable hour, as it gets full quickly.
Madang Korean, Abu Dhabi
It's a little far out, at the Al Ghazal Golf Club right by the Abu Dhabi airport, but it's worth the journey, as Madang not only serves up great, authentic dishes and Korean barbecue, but does so in a charming, down-to-earth restaurant that doubles up as a karaoke venue with views of the golf course. There's also a little Asian grocery store out front, so you can stock up on specialty ingredients before you leave.
Manna Land, Abu Dhabi and Dubai
The food at this spot on Al Muroor Road is distinctively and authentically Korean, but with sushi thrown in for good measure. It has barbecue, bulgogi and bibimbap on a Korean menu that encompasses just under 50 dishes, then there's a separate menu for Sushi Ya, with dozens of Japanese options. You can eat all this in the restaurant, which features basic decor with murals of typical east Asian scenes, or order to takeaway. There's also a branch on Al Mina Road in Dubai.
Prime Okryu, Abu Dhabi
Offering a taste of North Korea in Abu Dhabi is Prime Okryu, which is based in the Millennium Grand Hotel. It serves authentic cuisine in three branches across the UAE, with two more popular venues in Dubai, and part of what some reports say is a network of about 100 state-owned North Korean restaurants worldwide based on the original Okryu Restaurant, serving diners in the capital since 1960. While the food is recommended, one of the main attractions of the restaurants is the nightly floor show, which sees waitresses put on national dress and entertain with song and dance.
A premium selection of meats, seafood, poultry and vegetables are set out in a buffet at this restaurant in Radisson Blu Hotel along Dubai Deira Creek and the idea is that you grill it yourself at the Korean-style barbecues in the middle of each table. It's a great option for big groups of family and friends to cook and share food together over a casual but fun meal.
Popular among Dubai residents is Hyu in JLT. Set in the basement of the O2 Residence in Cluster O, this friendly little spot serves a decent selection of authentic Korean food, with barbecues and particularly super soups, from kimchi with tofu to marinated beef with dumplings and chicken with rice and jinseng, all floating in incredibly flavourful broths. The decor is basic and minimalist, but that just adds to its charm.