But with these quick Korean basics you can order with confidence, impress your friends, and gorge yourself on Korea's divine dining.
One - 하나 (hah-nah)
Two - 둘 (dool)*
Three - 셋 (sayt)*
Four - 넷 (nayt)*
Five - 더섯 (duh-suht)
Six - 여섯 (yuh-suht)
Seven - 일곱 (ill-gope)
Eight - 여덜 (yuh-duhl)
Nine - 아홉 (ah-hope)
Ten - 열 (yuhl)
Eleven - 열하나 (yuhl-hah-nah)
-This number system is only for counting objects, people, hours, etc.
(A second number system is used for money, bus and phone #s, dates, etc.)
*drop the last consonant when saying these numbers along with a noun
(ex. "two bottles" = doo byung)
-To specify a number of people, objects, etc.
-say a number followed by the unit
People - 명 (myung)
-Upon entering a restaurant the greeter will ask how many in your party
(ex. 3 of us = 세명 (say myung))
Objects - 개 (gay)
-Used when asking for servings, utensils, cups or anything of a specific number
(ex. 4 orders of rice = 밥 네개 (bap nay gay))
Bottles - 병 (byung)
- A necessity for any Korean dining experience
(ex. six bottles of beer = 맥주 여섯 병 (maek-ju yuh-suht byung))
Please - 주세요 (jew-say-yo)
- Literally means "give to me"
-Use at the end of every request
More -더 (duh)
-Because side dishes are free and unlimited, why not ask for more?
-say something you want, followed by 더 (duh) = for an unspecified amount "more" of it
(ex. more kimchi, please = 김치 더 주세요 (kimchi duh jew-say-yo))
-say something you want, followed by the number+unit, followed by 더 = for a specific amount more
(ex. two more bottles of soju, please = 소주 두병 더 주세요 (so-ju doo-byung duh jew-say-yo))
This, please - 이거 주세요 (Ee-guh jew-say-yo)
- Easily point to something on the menu to order
- Or hold up a side dish and ask for more
(ex. More of this, please = 이거 더 주세요 (Ee-guh duh jew-say-yo))
HEY, You there, get over here! - 저기요 (juh-gee-oh)
- Literally means "There."
- To get the waiter's attention, yell this as loud as possible
- Don't worry, it's completely acceptable
What's your most delicious food? - 뭐가 제일 맛있어요 (Mo-gah jay-ill* mah-shis-uh-yo)
- A useful question if you have no idea what to order.
- Usually restaurants specialize in a single dish, especially meat BBQ places
- If the waiter is confused, don't take it personally. They may be new and not even know the answer.
* emphasize 제일
Take out, please - 포장해 주세요 (po-jang hay jew-say-yo)
-Use this for taking home leftovers, or ordering the entire dish to go.
-Depending on the type of restaurant, some don't allow this (BBQ), others do (prepared dishes)
Make a reservation, please - 예약해 주세요 (yay-yahk hay jew-say-yo)
- Have an important dinner at a busy place? Try booking a table.
- After requesting you'll most likely need to answer two questions:
1) How many spots ("몇분")?
(ex. four people = 네명 (nay-myung))
2) What time ("몇시")?
(ex. eight o'clock = 여덜시 (yuh-duhl she))
Remove the coals, please - 불빼 주세요 (bool bbae jew-say-yo)
- If things are getting too hot, or you're finished BBQing everything, ask this.
- Literally "take out the fire"
Change the grill, please - 불판 바꿔 주세요 (bool-pan ba-kwa jew-say-yo)
- If your BBQ grill cakes over with a charred crust, time to have it changed.
- Use this in the case of wired and removable grills.
- In the case of large permanent fixtures, ask to have it cleaned:
불판닦아 주세요(bool-pan da-gga jew-say-yo)
Sauce separately, please - 소스 따로 주세요 (soh-seuh dda-lo jew-say-yo)
-If you're worried about soggy meat or extremely spicy sauce, ask to have it in a separate dish
-Only applies to some dishes of course, like 돈가스 (pork cutlets), 탕수육 (deep fried pork) or fried chicken.
Reheat it, please 데워주세요 (dae-wuh joosayyo)
Boneless - 뼈없는 / 순살(bbyuh-up-neun / soon-sal)
-Literally "doesn't have bones" and "pure meat," respectively.
-Each is strictly used for certain types of meat, such as 뼈없는 for chicken feet and 순살 for jjimdalk.
Spicy/Medium/Mild Flavor -
매운맛/보통맛/순한맛 (mae-oon mat/bo-tong mat/soon-han mat)
[For a better idea of what to order, check out the database of Korean meat types.]