Banchan is a set of small plates of food that are typically served at restaurants before the main course. Typical dishes are salty and spicy and include spicy fermented kimchi, steamed fish and other small seafood, soups, stews, and spicy pickled or stir fried vegetables seasoned with garlic, ginger, and sesame oil.
During Three Kingdoms period, Korea became a Buddhist state and meat was banned. Therefore, vegetable side dishes became popular by Buddhists. After the invasions of the Mongols, meat was allowed once again, but the vegetables remained.
Banchan dishes are a great way for visitors to Seoul to experience many new and different types of Korean flavors.