I’ve decided to start a new series called Korean Survival Skills, for those of you who may be so brave to travel to Korea without proficiency in Korean. In Korea, it’s quite necessary to know how to speak the language to get anything done, but if you’re feeling feisty, read my guide and hopefully you’ll be able to order successfully! Let me know how it goes!
Caution: I’m not a fluent speaker by any means. These are just the basics I’ve learned through experience. If I mess up the grammar or phrasing, please let me know and I will fix it. The romanization isn’t the standard way to romanize, but I made it so that it sounds most logical to English-speaking ears.
[At your arrival]
Waiter: 몇분이세요? (myot bun i seyo) [How many people are there?]
You: 한(두/셋/넷/다섯/여섯/일곱/여덜/아홉/열) 분이에요 (han/du/set/net/tahsot/yeosot/ilgop/ahop/yeol – bun i eyo) [One/two/three/four/five/six/seven/eight/nine/ten people]
Waiter: 이쪽으로 오세요. (I jjokero ohseyo) [Come this way]
(Calling over the waiter) You: 저기요! (cho ggi yo) [Excuse me (lit. over there)]
Waiter: 뭘 주문하시겠어요? (mwol chumunhashigessoyo) [What would you like to order?]
Here you have several options.
If you’re ordering something with numbers, you can say –
# 번 (하고 # 번) 주세요 (# bon hago # bon chuseyo) [Please give me number # and number #)
And the #’s – 일 (il/one), 이 (i/two), 삼 (sam/three), 사 (sah, four), 오 (oh, five), 육 (yu, six), 칠 (chil, seven), 팔 (pal, eight), 구 (ku, nine), 십 (ship, ten), 십일 (shibil, eleven), 십이 (shibi, twelve), 십삼 (shibsam, thirteen)….
And if you’re not ordering with numbers, just replace the # signs with the name of the food.
If you’re ordering BBQ, the way they sell meat is in the servings per person. So if you have four+ people, you’re supposed to order four+ servings, but some places you can get away with ordering two or three, if you’re lucky.
You: 불고기 사인분 주세요 (pulgogi sa in bun chuseyo) [Four servings of bulgogi, please]
불고기 is really popular, but you can replace it with 갈비(kalbi) or 삼겹살 (samgyopsal).
Three orders of meat: 삼인분 (sam in bun)
Five orders: 오인분(oh in bun)
[During the meal]
If you want more water – 여기 물 좀 더 주세요 (yoggi muul jom doh chuseyo)
If you want some hand wipes – 물수건 좀 주세요 (muul sugohn chuseyo)
If you want to order more food – (name of food) 하나 더 주세요 ( _____ hana doh chuseyo)
[At the end of the meal]
If you want the bill – 계산서 주실래요? (kyesanso jushillaeyo?)
OR 지금 계산할게요 (chigeum kyesan halkaeyo) [We’ll take the bill now]
If there’s anything I missed that you would like to know, let me know in the comments and I’ll add it! Again, if there are any mistakes, please let me know!