In order to understand what schichtan is, it is best to describe its main features, which can be especially useful for those who want to visit Korea.
The first thing I would like to start with is the fact that in Korea, the catering system is very well developed. Here you will find a huge variety of cafes and coffee shops, restaurants with traditional Korean cuisine, European, Asian and Oriental, street food, pizzerias and fast food. You definitely won't be hungry, there is food for everyone.
But still, when you come to Korea, you want to try something traditional. The best place is not expensive restaurants, but ordinary shchiktans where you can eat tasty and inexpensively.
So what is shchiktan?
Owners of shchiktanov most often are women of advanced age. They cook and clean themselves, recruiting several people to help them, possibly also from the family circle. The interior is very simple, sometimes even nondescript (not everywhere). But this should not scare you. The passability in the shields is large, so the food is always fresh, you should not be afraid for the quality of the dishes.
At lunchtime and in the evening, the shields are almost always crowded. There go families with children, schoolchildren, students, old people, employees of nearby companies. Schiktan - a place where everyone goes, regardless of age.
Since shchiktans are very popular among the local population, the prices are reasonable, the portions are quite large, and most importantly, everything is fresh and tasty. You can’t wait for an order for a long time, no more than 10−15 minutes, even if you hit the rush hour.
The menu in some of the shiktanh hangs on the wall - a sort of large signboard with the names of the dishes. Here it is important to note that not all the menu items can be found in the menu, which is duplicated in English or contains a photo of dishes. Therefore, I recommend before going to Korea to get acquainted with the national cuisine, to know what the most popular dishes are called. Pointing your finger at the menu with your eyes closed is not the best idea, as they can bring something that you don’t like. In tourist places it is much easier - there is a menu in English, photos of dishes and waiters who speak English.
In addition, if you are not an experienced user of chopsticks, it would be a good decision to take a couple of plastic forks. Despite the fact that now almost everywhere there are plugs, it is possible that you will find yourself in a place where they are not.
On a note! Korean traditional chopsticks are different from Japanese and Chinese in that they are flat and metallic. Even knowing how to use wooden chopsticks, I had difficulties in using metal sticks for several months.
If you do not like spicy food, note that sometimes in the menu next to the dish there is a small picture of red pepper or a light — one, two or three. It shows the degree of spiciness of the dish. In general, not all dishes in Korea are sharp, as many think, but I recommend asking that there be no unpleasant surprises.
Another detail may confuse you a little - toilet paper on the table. In some places, it is used instead of napkins. And if you did not see the napkins on the table, take a close look at the walls - perhaps the napkin holder is hanging somewhere near you.
After you have made an order, in a couple of minutes you will receive several small plates with various snacks, or as they are called in Korea, “panchan”. Do not worry, do not pay for them. In Korean shchiktanakh it is customary to bring panchans up to the main course. Most importantly, you can ask for supplements - for free. In some places you should take panchan yourself, most often it is kimchi, pickled radish and light soup.
Water, as well as panchans, is brought free of charge, or you can pour it yourself. If rice is served separately in a metal plate, ask for a supplement if you are not fed up. Initially, I was very surprised at such generosity in Korea, and now I am surprised that we still have to pay for water in restaurants.
Note to travelers: many guidebooks indicate shchiktans that are particularly popular due to one or another dish. I recommend to visit them, but be prepared for the fact that you have to stand in a queue to get there.