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Korean Food vs. Japanese Food: Which One Is Better?

Jason Park
Published by: Jason Park
Last updated:

Korean and Japanese food is very different. The main difference is that Korean food is spicier than Japanese food.

From my experience, Korean food is spicier than Japanese food, but Korean people can handle Korean spicy food better than spicy Japanese food. Korean spicy food has a lot of vegetables and dumplings, which I really like.

Korean people like to eat dumplings, pancakes called “Japchae” and “Mandu.” Another big difference is that Koreans have side dishes while Japanese don’t have any side dishes.

If you want to read more about the differences between Korean and Japanese food, please keep reading on.

Preparing Food

Preparing Korean food is very different from preparing Japanese food. Korean people like to eat food with many side dishes. At the same time, the Japanese don’t have many side dishes.

In Japan, you often get one plate of noodles or rice, and that’s basically it. Another thing is that sushi is insanely popular in Japan because that’s the main dish of the country.

If you think about Japan, you already know that sushi is from there. The same goes for Korea because they have kimchi.

As you can see both countries have different dishes and therefore also different ways of preparing food.

I’ve been to both countries and found that Korean people eat on the floor while Japanese don’t. This isn’t something you often see because almost everyone has a table.

So it was quite new to me when I was visiting Korea. Not everyone eats on the floor, but it is something that’s normal.

In my opinion, Korean food has a stronger taste, but that’s different for everyone. If you’re ever going to visit Korea or Japan, make sure to try as many foods as possible.

Foods like kimchi and sushi are available everywhere, but the taste is very different in the countries themselves.


There are many different restaurants, but you should go to the traditional ones to enjoy the food to the fullest. That’s what I did, and the traditional food in Korea and Japan is outstanding.

Make sure to try some restaurants in Seoul. There are the best ones. In Japan, I would highly recommend visiting Shibuya. The noodles there are amazing, and you can select from many different flavors.

In the capital cities aren’t really traditional restaurants. Everything is very modern, which might be an issue if you’re looking for traditional food. However, there are some restaurants that do have traditional food.

It’s just a bit harder to find. If you’re really looking for traditional food, you should go to the small villages. It’s very cheap, and the portions you get are very big.

It might save you lots of money, but the downside is that you need to know Korean because they don’t speak English. Other than that, restaurants are great in both Korea and Japan, and I advise you to try them out.

Differences in The Cuisine

There are many differences between Korean and Japanese cuisines. The main difference is that Japanese dishes have a bolder taste while Korean food has more strong flavors.

The different tastes could be caused by the spices or vegetables they use to cook the dishes.

Koreans like to add a lot of chili pepper and garlic to their dishes, which gives them a strong flavor. On the other hand, Japanese food has more subtle flavors since they only use a few ingredients.

Another difference could be the main dish. Japanese food mostly revolves around sushi, but the most popular Korean dish is kimchi. They eat it with almost everything.

Korean people use kimchi for every meal. It’s like a side dish that everyone has while in Japan they don’t.

Similarities in The Cuisine

Some similarities between Korean and Japanese cuisine are that they both have their own unique style. If you go to a traditional restaurant, you’ll likely see that the food is prepared quite similar.

They usually serve rice, soup, pickled vegetables, and other small dishes. Also, they both have their own traditional home-cooking style that’s been passed down from generation to generation.

Furthermore, many ingredients are used in both cuisine is similar such as Dashi (Japanese soup stock), fish sauce or shrimp paste, soy sauce and sesame oil.

One distinguishing feature in both cuisines is that Koreans use a variety of fermented vegetables such as Kimchi, and Japanese uses fermented seafood.

One similarity is that they cook with chili peppers, which are also known to be very good for your health. Other than that, some traditional dishes like Bibimbap (Korean Mixed Rice), and Yakimeshi (Japanese fried rice) are very similar.

Most Popular Korean Food

Some of the most popular Korean foods are Bulgogi, Kimchi, Bibimbap, and Galbitang (a soup with beef short ribs).

Of course, these are not the only popular Korean dishes. Cooking these foods is quite hard for a foreigner to imitate, but if you have a Korean friend, then they can easily make these for you and introduce them to you.

Most Popular Japanese Food

There’s also popular Japanese food and to name a few, Ramen, Tempura, Yakisoba. All of these dishes are quite easy to make and it’s easy to find the ingredients in any supermarket.

These foods are not only popular at home by being eaten out as well. If you just go to any Japanese restaurant, then you will notice that many people order these dishes over there.

Cooking Korean Food

Cooking Korean food is quite complex. They have a lot of condiments, like pickled vegetables and other spicy sauce that is essential to Korean food.

When cooking Korean food, you don’t need any special ingredients or expensive ones either. However, what makes it challenging is that some are hard to obtain and others are easy, but you need a long time to make them.

In comparison, cooking Japanese food is not that hard at all because it’s very simple and straightforward. To cook Japanese food, you mostly have to cut the ingredient and then put them in the pot or frying pan, which requires less time rather than Korean cuisine.

However, if you want to impress someone with your cooking skills, then I would recommend cooking Korean food because it’s more complex and requires more technique.

Cooking Japanese Food

To cook some Japanese dishes, you’ll have to make fresh stocks of dashi which takes a lot of time and energy. Preparing the dish is not that hard but making dashi is quite complicated.

Also, if you want to cook some traditional Japanese cuisine, there are some unique tools that are essential to the cooking process.

Some Japanese cooking essentials are a sharp knife called “santoku”, and other utensils like a frying pan, griddle, or wood spatula.

Moreover, some ingredients in Japanese cuisine are quite expensive, such as fish sauce or kombu (a type of seaweed). Consequently, it can be quite difficult to make if you don’t have the budget.

If you want to cook something quick and easy, then I recommend sushi because it’s so simple to make.

Should You Learn To Cook Korean or Japanese Food?

As for me, I like both Korean and Japanese cooking because they’re both very delicious, but if I had to choose one of the two, it would likely be Korean food because I prefer kimchi fried rice over any dish.

It’s so easy to cook, and you don’t need many ingredients for it to taste well. So, if you want to cook something quick and easy, then kimchi fried rice is a great option.


All in all, there are many similarities between Korean and Japanese food. Some of the most popular dishes in both countries have been listed above, but that does not mean that’s all they eat.

But these are just some highlights of their cuisine. If you want to know more about it then I recommend you go over to Korea or Japan for a vacation and try some of the local delicacies out for yourself.

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    About The Author

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    Jason Park

    Jason has been living in Seoul for over 4 years, and during that time, he has experienced many of the city's hidden stores. He loves to write about his experiences and share them with others. Jason has been quoted and referenced by different major media companies like Mashed, Distractify, ThePrint and TastingTable. In his free time, he likes to watch Korean dramas and learn more about Korean culture.

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