Even if you know nothing about Korean food, you've probably heard of Korean barbecue and kimchi. But the fact that few people know about all the other amazing Korean foods out there brings tears to my eyes because it's damn delicious. 

I admit, Korean restaurants can be intimidating. And if you're at a more traditional spot, the menu is probably in Korean and the attempted English translations read like gibberish.  So, to save your frustration the next time you face a Korean menu, I've channeled my 19 years of life experience as a Korean foodie into this helpful little guide of what to order.

For The Cautious Newbies:  

This section is dedicated to all my softies out there who want to ease their way into Korean food. These dishes are on the milder side and some might even exhibit familiar flavors. Trust me, there's nothing here that'll be too spicy or funky. Nothing here will make you want to run to that Italian restaurant down the block. 

1. Dolsot Bibimbap

Dolsot Bibimbap is a rice bowl filled with an assortment of vegetables and your choice of meat (but can also be meatless!) that you mix together all inside a hot, sizzling stone bowl. You'll be given gochujang, a sweet and slightly spicy chili paste, on the side to mix-in yourself. Go crazy with it or just add a little drop. It's a choose-your-own-adventure situation. Insider tip: let the rice sit in the stone bowl for a couple of minutes before mixing to get a crackly, crunchy layer of rice at the bottom. 

2. Galbi-jjim 

Galbi-jjim is Korean braised short ribs. They're the perfect combination of super savory and slightly sweet that you'll be smacking your lips for after each bite. 

3. Kimchi Jjigae

Kimchi Jjigae is kimchi stew. This is the ultimate comfort food that any Korean granny can whip up in her sleep. The bright red color of the soup is deceiving - it's really not spicy. If you want to take care of your tongue tonight but still want something with a bit of zing, this dish is the one for you.

4. Budae Jjigae

Budae Jjigae is another red stew. In a lot of ways, it's similar to kimchi jjigae, but this bad boy's loaded with ramen noodles, sausage, ham and rice cakes. Think of it as kimchi jjigae's dirty cousin that you definitely wanna get down with.

For Those Who Want to Spice Things Up:

This section is for eaters who aren't afraid to get a little tingle on their tongue. Restaurants usually serve these dishes at a standard, mild level of spice, so be sure to let the waiter know if you want to feel the burn. Let me tell you right now, Koreans go hard on spice when prompted. Beware. 

1. Ddukbokki 

Ddukbokki is spicy rice cakes smothered in chili sauce. The rice cakes are super chewy (in a good way) and are shaped like small white tubes. What brings the heat is the red sauce the rice cakes are bathing in when served. A couple ladles of that down the hatch, and you'll be sweating for sure.

2. Dwaeji Bulgogi 

Dwaeji Bulgogi is grilled, spicy marinated pork. The meat is thinly sliced, usually cooked down with some onions, and comes out sizzling to your table. The bulgogi you might be familiar with is made with beef and no spice. I'll tell you right now, dwaejibulgogi is about five million times better. 

For The Adventurous Eaters:

This section is for all you funky readers looking to try something completely new. Ice in a noodle dish? Blood sausage? Funky smells? Korean food's got 'em all. 

1. Naeng Myun

Naeng Myun is a cold noodle dish that every single Korean eats during the hot summer. You'll even find chunks of ice floating in the broth to keep everything cold. Ice cream can take a back seat because it doesn't even come close to how refreshing naeng myun is. Slurp these chilly noodles down, and you'll be ready to take on the sun again in no time.

2. Soon Dae

Soon Dae is Korean blood sausage stuffed with glass noodles, minced meat, rice and some veg. Take a break from sad, thin and awkwardly pink tailgate hot dogs. Soon dae is much bigger and blackish-brown in color. It definitely isn't the sexiest Korean dish, but its taste might make you think otherwise.

3. Doenjang Jjigae

Doenjang Jjigae is fermented soybean paste stew. Because of the fermentation, the soup has a distinct smell that might be off-putting on first sniff. The taste is rich and earthy and will leave you feeling warm inside after the last spoonful.

One essential part of the Korean dining experience that I haven't yet mentioned is the banchan (pictured above). It's a whole spread of small plates that are served before your entree. And guess what? It's all free. And if you run out of any of them, the Korean waiters will happily give you free refills as many times as you want. Just ask nicely and the banchan will just keep coming and coming. It doesn't get much better than that.