When I think of Korea, I think of all the street foods? hidden in every street alley, displayed at every street corners, and packed in every popular attraction sites. There are so many traditional ones and so many new ones to try! Unfortunately, I was not gifted with a bottomless pit. So, I have compacted a short list of my favourite must try Korean street foods for those of you who have a big appetite paired with a small incapable stomach just like mine? and don’t want to waste any square inch of it on things that might not taste as good. Well, taste preference is a personal thing. But most of the street food that I like, my B liked them too and he’s a very picky eater, so that tells you something?.
- Spicy rice cake (tteokbokki – 떡볶이) = chewy sticky rice cake sticks stir fried in classic Korean sweet and spicy red pepper paste. Depending on the ajumma (middle-aged Korean woman) that made it, the spiciness can vary. For a spicy lover like me, most of them were mild.
This is a typical street food cart. You can order simply by pointing at it, or if you want to show off your language skills you can tell them or read the hangul. The ajumma will then scoop a serving on to a plate wrapped in plastic bag. My plate was actually a combination of spicy rice cake and Korean blood sausage. Generally, when there are fishcakes, you will be given a cup filled with the fishcake broth as a side soup, free of charge. The broth is very umami? And super warming on a cold day!
- Blood sausage (sundae – 순대) – pig’s intestines stuffed with noodles, sticky rice and pig’s blood. Of course, there are other variations on the ingredients as well. And don’t let the name scare you (well, the Korean name just sounds like ice cream), it definitely tastes better than it sounds.
This was at Gwangjang Market. Those big chubby tubes are the blood sausages.I love sundae and spicy rice cake together, especially dipping the sundae in that sweet spicy sauce. The blood taste of the sausage isn’t overpowering at all. It also has this hint of sweetness from the sticky rice. Try it!
- Korean corn dogs – corn dogs with a lot of twists. There are french fry corn dogs, cheese corn dogs, and regular corn dogs. The batter contains sticky rice flour with makes it more chewier than normal Western corn dogs or pogos. The coating is also more crispier (I think they use bread crumbs or something), which is why I love it so much?.
Regular corn dog
French fry corn dog (I still prefer the regular one, the extra layer of french fries were a bit too much carbs for me)
- Korean pancakes (Hotteok – 호떡) – fried chewy moist pancakes with fillings. The traditional hotteok contains a mix of brown sugar, cinnamon and mixed nuts. There are other variations such as red bean paste, Korean glass noodles and vegetables (yachae-hotteok) and many more.
This was a yachae hotteok stand near Namdaemun that had a huge line the day before when I passed by, so I made a mental note to come back the next day morning to check it out. 1,000 won for one, why not? There was a bowl filled with whole pepper and whole onions immersed in a dark soy sauce looking liquid; this is what they will brush the hotteok with for some added savouriness.My yachae hotteok!The glass noodles and vegetables inside.?Traditional hotteok in a cup. They like to serve street food in a paper cup.The mixed nuts and brown sugar filling oozing out of it. Mmmmm… Usually these are very hot inside, so be careful not to burn your tongue.
- Dumplings (mandu – 만두) – Korean style dumplings with diverse filling options that can be steamed, boiled, pan-fried or deep fried. I personally love the kimchi fillings, such a hallmark ingredient for Korea and always so delicious.
This is a mandu stand that also provides other steamed buns and goodies?.My mouth is watering just looking at the pictures. Ah, good times…
- Deep fried battered snacks (twigim – 튀김) – yep, deep fried anything. Literally, anything you can think of, they will dip it in batter and deep fry it to crispy crunchy goodness.
It is very close to tempura, but the batter is different. There’s deep fried fish cake, yam, boiled egg, sesame leaf, stuffed pepper, and you name it.My deep fried japchae stuffed peppers and fried egg. The ajumma kindly drizzled some of the spicy red sauce on to my deep fried egg and fish cake. The clear liquid in the two bowls are fish cake broth.
- Fried chicken (dakgangjeong – 닭강정) – fried chicken bits coated in sticky sweet spicy sauce.
This stand is fried chicken mixed with rice cake or potatoes. The chicken bits are like popcorn chicken size.Oooo, so crispy, so crunchy, carbs and proteins! Heaven!
- 32 cm soft ice cream – pretty self-explanatory. It’s not that the ice cream is out of this world amazing, it’s like any other soft serve ice cream on a hot day, yummy! But it’s also really cool! To be that tall! And it’s only 2,000 won. The cone, however, may ‘taste like card board’ (exact comment from B). I ate my cone though, didn’t notice anything out of the norm.
There are lots of flavours to choose from, and different locations will have slightly different flavours.Green tea and vanilla/mango mix. I really do think the ice cream is 32 cm.? And it makes me feel like I’m in vacation mode.
Of course, there are plenty more Korean street foods out there. These are just the few that I would never miss out on if I were in Korea. But if you have the space in your tummy and the time on hand, I would recommend trying them all!?