The following are available around the country, and few will cost more than W5000. Many meals involve rice in various forms: one that proves a hit with many foreigners is bibimbap, a mixture of shoots, leaves and vegetables on a bed of rice, flecked with meat, then topped with an egg and spicy gochujang pepper sauce. The dish can cost as little as W3500, though there are sometimes a few varieties to choose from. Other dishes served on a bed of rice include beef (bulgogi deop-bap; 불고기덮밥), highly spicy squid (ojingeo deop-bap; 오징어덮밥) or donkasseu (돈까스), a breaded pork cutlet dish imported from Japan that’s particularly popular with those who want to avoid spice. Also fulfilling this need are rolls of gimbap (김밥): gim means laver seaweed, bap means rice, and the former is rolled around the latter, which itself surrounds strips of egg, ham and pickled radish; the resulting tube is then cut into segments with a sharp knife to make the dish chopstick-friendly. The basic dish is filling and only costs W1000 or so, but for a little more you’ll usually have a variety of fillings to choose from, including tuna (chamchi; 참치), minced beef (sogogi; 소고기), processed cheese (chi-jeu; 치즈) and gimchi.

Noodles are also used as a base in many dishes, and one of the cheapest dishes to eat – a bowl of ramyeon can go for just W2000. This is a block of instant noodles boiled up in a spicy red pepper soup, and usually mixed in with an egg and some onion. For double the price you can have dumplings (mandu; 만두), rice-cake (ddeok; 떡) or processed cheese thrown in. If you're travelling in the sticky Korean summer you'll find it hard to throw back a bowl of hot, spicy soup; a better choice may be naengmyeon (냉면), bowls of grey buckwheat noodles served with a boiled egg and vegetable slices in a cold soup (though still spicy – this is Korea, after all).

Soups are also available without noodles. The names of these dishes usually end with -tang (탕) or -guk (국), though special mention must be made of the spicy jjigae broths (찌개). These are bargain meals that cost W3500 and up, and come with rice and a range of vegetable side dishes; the red pepper broth contains chopped-up vegetables, as well as a choice of tofu (sundubu; 순두부), tuna, soybean paste (doenjang; 된장) or gimchi. Many foreigners find themselves going for the more familiar dumpling (mandu) options; again, these can cost as little as W1000 for a dish, and you can have them with meat (gogi) or gimchi fillings. Most are steamed, though it’s sometimes possible to have them flash-fried.

All of the above can be found at fast-food chains around the country.