Finally, after years of being asked about the details of my private food tours, here’s a rough guideline of what you can expect on these customized tours that range from a visit to a traditional market to eating Korean-style fried chicken at the Han River Park. These are personalized tours where you, the guest, get to pick and choose where and what you want to eat while having an experienced food guide to help you every step of the way.
Here’s what you should know:
- No tourist traps. If you want to dine at all the popular restaurants featured in every brochure or website, this tour is probably not for you. Featured restaurants will be local, authentic, and full of charm. Some of the most beloved restaurants are hole-in-the-wall places that only locals know about, meaning you’ll travel off the beaten path for some serious authentic eats.
- No one more qualified. If you’ve been following me on Instagram and Facebook, you already know that I’m probably the only person who can provide a comprehensive look into each individual dish and the restaurant that specializes in it, having interviewed hundreds of decades-old shops to get an in-depth understanding of Korean cuisine. This might be information overload for some, but for people who are passionate about food culture and history, this informative tour won’t disappoint.
- No money, no problem (kind of). For travelers on a super tight budget, the hourly rate is negotiable. This is a passion project of mine and money is not a top priority. My goal is to meet people who are sincerely interested in Korean food and helping them learn about Korea’s rich culinary history. However, due to commute time, there are restrictions depending on location and hours of availability. And if you are entirely disappointed with the food tour, there is absolutely no pressure to pay. Please DM for additional information on Instagram or firstname.lastname@example.org
- No limitations. Each tour is personalized and customized to suit each traveler’s preference, catering and appealing to those who want flexibility, not a set itinerary. But the most important thing is certain dietary restrictions, which means letting me know in advance of any allergies etc. so I can plan accordingly.
- Food Tours: Currently running the following tours: (A) Street Food Tour @ Gwangjang Market featuring (but not limited to) bindaetteok (mung bean pancakes), japchae kimbap (rice rolls with glass noodles), kalguksu (knife-cut noodle soup) and mandu (dumplings), yukhoe (raw beef tartare), hotteok (sweet Korean pancake/donut), and banchan (fermented dishes) sampling. (B) Chicken + Makgeolli + Pojangmacha Tour featuring the best Korean-style fried chicken and beer/soju @ Ungteori Tongdak followed by artisanal makgeolli and anju (food exclusively served with traditional alcohol) @ Damotori and lastly a nightcap at a streetside tent called @ Pojangmacha. (C) Website Feature Tour allows you to choose any restaurant that I’ve posted about on the blog or SNS channels.
- Cost: Unlike other tours where you pay upwards of $100-200 per person, you only pay a flat rate of 100,000 won (approximately $100 US dollars) for a single person and 50,000 won for each additional person (five-person max). Although you’ll be paying for the meals directly, it will still be the cheapest tour available with a more hands-on experience. However, if you feel more comfortable paying everything up front to minimize the hassle of dealing with foreign currency, that’s not a problem either.
Testimonials and reviews:
Anyone who loves food, and desires to respect and experience a country’s culture via its food, should definitely try to find a local guide like Jason.
We got connected through a family friend and I immediately knew he would be a great person to meet up with in Korea when I took my in-laws there for a trip. From his IG he clearly had developed personal relationships and a deep respect for the owners and cooks at restaurants, and was a chef himself, so I knew we’d be in hands. When we actually met up, our outing was an even bigger success than I expected.
First, he was more than able to handle the pace and size of my group (2 seniors, 1 pregnant lady, 3 other adults, 2 toddlers, for a 3-4 hours jaunt) in a really fast-paced, disorienting, crowded place: Gwangjang Market.
Second, he was so friendly, cheerful, welcoming, and patient. It was a delight to meet him, and also hang out with him. His style and tone made us feel like we were hanging out with an old family friend – by the time we departed, we were already trying to make plans to meet up again that night, or the next night, to hang out and eat more. He clearly customized our day based on our interests and needs as well, which I greatly appreciated and was impressed by.
Third, Jason’s evident passion for the food, the stories of the people making the food, and the history of the foods we were getting to eat, made us feel so excited about and interested in all those things as well. All his knowledge has come from him literally exploring new locations by himself and humbly asking the restaurant owner / chef if they would be willing to share their story with him and let him take some photos. He had personal relationships with almost every restaurant / food stand owner we visited. I appreciated the food and the story behind it so much more, when I witnessed those personal connections.
Fourth, all the food was sooooo good. Jason’s judgment of where to go, what to eat, and what order to go in, was all spot-on. We literally were able to follow him around, sit down, hear the history of the place, owner, and food, eat a dish, pay, say thank you and leave, and then repeat those steps with surprising efficiency. We were able to try 10+ unique and delicious foods on our tour in 4 hours which is basically a miracle given our size, pace, and the location.
In a nutshell, going on a food tour with Jason made me appreciate South Korean food and its people so much more. He is kind, helpful, knowledgeable, patient, and knows all the ahjummas. 🙂 Anyone visiting Korea, whether it’s for the first or hundredth time, will fall more in love with Korea after spending time with Jason and experiencing it through his lens.
My whole family had such an amazing half-day outing with you, thank you Jason!
Touring with Jason will give you what we all want, feeling like a local. Jason’s knowledge about the history of Seoul’s culinary scene from a first person perspective combined with his culinary knowledge will give you a great appreciation for each dish, as will not only eat amazing food, but understand what truly makes it unique. However, what I loved most about the tour was the fact that it isn’t a tour, but instead feels like friends having good food and drinks.”
My husband and I reached out to Jason on our 2nd trip to Seoul inquiring about a private food tour. We had one the previous year we were there, and it turned out to be very disappointing. He was so quick to respond and was extremely flexible with my request, considering that it was last minute. His value and knowledge of Korean food were beyond what we could have imagined and he truly exceeded our expectations. He was so helpful in navigating authentic Korean cuisine and tailoring our food tour to exactly what we wanted, making it very personal. We ended up spending 2 additional days with him during our stay in Seoul because he was so helpful, friendly and knowledgable. We have never eaten so well and will go back to the places he showed us on our next trip. We developed such a good relationship with him that I still reach out to him for all questions regarding Korean culture, the language and of course the food. He’s become part of the family! Each time a friend has reached out asking for advice about where to eat on trips to Seoul, I have directed them directly to Jason. They have only said great things about him and the food that he introduced them to as well. -Alisha and David, NYC
On my last trip to Seoul, I went on a food tour with Jason. I didn’t know it then, but that food tour ended up being one of my favorite memories from that trip.
Jason was kind and friendly. Even though we had never before met in person, by the end of the night, I felt like he had been a long-time friend. And his hospitality was matched by his passion for and knowledge of Korean food.
He took me to places I’d have never gone to otherwise. And at each stop, he not only explained what made the food delicious but also told stories highlighting the owners and their passion.
And I think that that is what makes Jason and his tours so special: there is love behind all he does. A love for showcasing the beauty of Korean cuisine. A love for old restaurants and a desire to preserve their memories in a rapidly changing Korea. A love for the owners who have tirelessly spent their lives perfecting their dishes. And a love for sharing all of that with anybody who is interested in Korean food.
I can not recommend his tours enough, so much so that when I go back to Korea, it’ll be a priority for me to find time to go on another tour with Jason.
First post has to be all about the food! Biggest shoutout to Jason, food tour guide turned great friend, for showing us the best, delicious spots in Gwangjang Market. Truly appreciate, admire, and respect his intimate knowledge of each dish/owner’s histories.
Stop 1: Main feature of Netflix’s Street Food Korea episode for her knife-cut noodles. We were also treated to her delicious seasonal summer kimchi and she complimented my hair, NBA. Stop 2: Best combo meal one might ever be able to have: japchae and kimbap. Felt a little competition when the imo kept complimenting Jay’s personality and looks though.
Also stopped by at a family-run stall famous for their banchan, running it for several decades now (also on Street Food). Stop 4: Delicious albeit gigantic mungbean pancake and pork patty. Big finale, and most adventurous meal during the entire trip was beef tartare, egg yolk, Korean pear, and live octopus!
Jason puts a lot of places on the map with his food blog, especially this KFC mom and pop shop serving only two dishes + beer and soju of course. Literally, the best friend chicken and insanely crispy. They worked to perfect their secret recipe for three years. We’re just waiting for our paycheck for being featured on a big Korean food show conveniently filming an episode while we were there.
Other double date was at this super cool makgeolli bar. The most beautiful seafood pancake, loaded with so much I don’t know how they made and presented it so perfectly, paired with makgeolli flights and bottles. We were maybe a little too successful with the ultimate beer + soju + makgeolli + plum liquor experience.
I can’t rave enough about Jason–even if we didn’t become great friends, I’d still be raving about his tour and knowledge. If you’re ever in Seoul and want a LEGIT food tour, hit him up, or at the very least check out his blog for plenty of recs but make sure you give credit where credit is due!