Some North Korean dishes and foods are also prepared in South Korea, and a multitude of dishes that originated in North Korea were brought to South Korea by migrating families after the Korean War. Many of these imported dishes became staples in the South Korean diet.
In North Korea, some dishes vary in flavor compared to South Korean versions, with some North Korean dishes being less spicy and more varied in composition compared to South Korean preparations. North Korean dishes have been described as having a unique and specific tanginess that is derived from using ingredients with flavors of sweet, sour, pungent and spicy, in combinations that create this effect.
Some restaurants, particularly in Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea, have expensive pricing relative to average worker wages in North Korea. Accessibility to restaurants is not always available to average North Korean citizens, with tourists and rich citizens being the primary patrons at some of them, particularly upscale ones. Per their pricing, upscale restaurants are typically only available to well-paid leaders of the North Korean government, tourists visiting the country, and the emerging affluent middle class of donju in the country.Donju means ""masters of money", and the donju typically hold positions in the government, positions operating state-owned businesses outside of the country, and positions involving bringing investments and the importation of products into the country.
Kimch'i – very common in North Korea, it is consumed as both a condiment and as a side dish, and often accompanies every meal. Kimchi is relied upon by North Koreans during the winter months when fresh vegetables are unavailable.
Meats – meat consumption tends to be rare in North Korea, and most citizens only have access to meats during the public holidays of the birthdays of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, when extra meat is included in government rations provided to North Koreans. Meats that are consumed include mostly pork, rabbit and occasionally goat. Beef consumption is essentially not allowed in North Korea, but very limited consumption of small amounts of beef is permitted, which is sometimes used in stews or soups.
Raengmyŏn – referred to as "naengmyeon" in South Korea, it is a traditional Korean cold noodle dish that is prepared using buckwheat noodles in North Korea. In North Korea, additional ingredients in the dish typically include some slices of meat, dried egg and hot sauce. The noodles are prepared using the flour and starch from ingredients such as buckwheat, potatoes and sweet potatoes. Some variations of the dish in North Korea is to include raw fish, cucumber, radish and Asian pear. Some North Koreans state that raengmyŏn originated in North Korea, and that it was introduced to South Korea by North Koreans who emigrated to South Korea after the Korean War occurred.
Ramen – referred to as "curly noodles" in North Korea.Shin Ramyun is a brand of instant noodles produced in South Korea that is nicknamed "money ramen" in North Korea, due to its relatively expensive pricing in North Korea at around 800 won per unit. In 2009, boxes of Shin Ramyun that contain twenty packages of ramen per box costed around 30,000 North Korean won, which in North Korea is expensive, and therefore not available to most North Korean citizens at this price.[a]
Panch'an – side dishes that accompany full meals, panch'an dishes are typically spicy, salty or tangy, and many are fermented, which adds flavor. Restaurants in North Korea typically charges for these accompaniments
Bottled water is imported from China, and is typically consumed by the donju, "the new affluent middle class" in North Korea. "Shindŏk' Saemmul" is a spring water produced in North Korea, but it is exported to countries in Southeast Asia, and is typically not available in the North Korean market.
Soft drinks – soft drink bottlers exist in North Korea, such as the Wonbong Trading Co. in Pyongyang. Soft drink products produced within North Korea are sometimes labeled as "carbonated sweet water". Imitations of major soda brands, such as Coca-Cola, are produced in North Korea. Sometime in 2017, Air Koryo, North Korea's flagship airline, began offering its own brand of soft drinks on flights to and from Beijing, China. Air Koryo soft drinks are also purveyed at some North Korean grocery stores. Coca-Cola bottled in China is available in upscale grocery stores in Pyongyang, and Pepsi bottled in China is also available, although it is rare compared to Coca-Cola's availability.
Alcoholic beverages are consumed in North Korea, and drinking is a part of the culture of North Korea. North Korea's legal drinking age is 18, but minors are sometimes allowed to consume alcoholic beverages, and some shop keepers readily sell them alcoholic drinks. Some North Koreans brew and distill alcoholic beverages at home, despite such home alcohol production being forbidden in North Korea, and some sell these beverages to markets, although this is also illegal. Home brewed liquor is made using ingredients such as potatoes and corn. Some North Korean consumers purchase alcoholic beverages directly from alcohol-producing factories in the country, using cash. In recent times, imported Chinese liquor has been allowed to be sold in markets, and a well-known Chinese liquor purveyed in North Korea is Kaoliang Liquor, which has a 46-50% alcohol content.
North Korea has some bars and other drinking establishments, and in recent times, beer halls have become popular in Pyongyang.
Beer is produced in North Korea, and craft beer production has increased in recent times. The major breweries in the country are Taedonggang Brewing Company, Paradise Microbrewery and the Yanggakdo Hotel Microbrewery. In August 2016, the Taedonggang Brewing Company held the country's first beer festival, which included several Taedonggang varieties and other local beers. Local beers at the festival included rice beer and dark beers.
Beer brands produced in North Korea
Taedonggang – brewed by the state-owned Taedonggang Brewing Company based in Pyongyang In 2017, Taedonggang was the most popular beer in North Korea.
Makkŏlli – a specialty rice wine with a milky appearance, it is common in the countryside of North Korea Makgeolli is produced using the same process used for the production of soju, and typically has a lower alcohol content compared to soju. It is considered by some to be inferior compared to soju.
Rice liquor – rice-based liquor is consumed by more North Koreans compared to beer.
Soju – referred to as nongtaegi in North Korea, soju is a clear specialty spirit prepared from sweet potato or barley in North Korea. It is similar to sake. In North Korea, soju's alcohol content ranges from 18 to 25 percent.
^"In North Korea it is only the high-ranking government officials and military officers who can afford to give and receive boxes of Shin Ramyun as a present," – stated to Radio Free Asia by a Seoul-based North Korean defector.