Soulful Seoul. The bustling capital of South Korea is a bustling metropolis, with towering skyscrapers at every turn and modern architecture that’s sure to wow you. Besides the modern and cultural attractions to see in the city, Seoul’s street food scene is also making a name for itself.
When travelling to South Korea, tourists make sure to never miss the opportunity to try out the endless rows of street food at the local markets. From Dongdaemun Night Market to the century-old Gwangjang Market, there are endless food markets for you to explore the wide array of street food that the city has to offer. In fact, even if you’re not at a food market, you are bound to find street food somewhere one way or another.
Here are 8 must-try street foods we think you should definitely try when in Seoul!
Tteokbokki (Spicy Rice Cakes)
A household name in the world of Korean street food, tteokbokki, or spicy rice cakes can be found at almost any food or street market in Seoul. Considered as comfort food by many Korean locals, this cylinder-shaped white rice cake dish has a hint of spice and sweetness that complement each other very well.
Eumok (Fish Cakes)
These fish cakes are a common ingredient in several Korean dishes such as gimbap, also known as Korean sushi. But in the street market, these are usually enjoyed on its own as a snack. Served on a skewer, this Korean fish cake is also enjoyed with a side of hot broth served separately that the locals call “Eomuk-Guk”.
Kimbap (Korean Sushi)
When you think sushi, we automatically think of Japanese sushi. But did you know that the Koreans have their own as well? Kimbap, or Korean sushi, has distinct qualities that set them apart from the traditional Japanese sushi rolls that we are more familiar with. For instance, Japanese sushi rolls are usually filled with raw fish such as tuna and salmon. But with kimbap, it’s filled with preserved or cooked items like ham, kimchi, and even grilled bulgogi!
Bungeoppang (Fish-shaped Dessert)
We all know pancakes to be a sweet treat usually enjoyed during breakfast, or any time you wish, really. But here in South Korea, these pancakes are savoury and will definitely surprise you once you take your first bite. This fish-shaped pastry is traditionally filled with sweet red bean paste that effortlessly oozes out at first bite and melts in your mouth. But now, it can be enjoyed with a wider variety of fillings such as custard cream and even Nutella!
Hweori Gamia (Spiraled Potato Chips)
One stick of this delicious snack is made from one whole potato – how cool is that? At most food markets, they will actually show you how they make hweori gamia. The process of how they make these spiral treats are absolutely hypnotizing and fascination at the same time! The spiralled potato will then be deep-fried until it’s a perfect golden brown and can be enjoyed by itself. But if you’re lucky, some stalls sprinkle flavoured powder over it such as cheese, onion or even barbeque flavour!
Bindaettok (Mung Bean Pancake)
Korean pancakes are an important part of Korean cuisine and these savoury and mouthwatering pancakes are a whole meal in itself. It is made by grinding mung beans that have been soaked; then adding meat and vegetables into the mixture and finally pan-frying it into the round-shaped goodness delicacy that it is. Pair it with some makgeolli, or Korean rice liquor for the perfect pairing.
Sundae (Blood Sausage)
Although not the most appetizing name to call a dish, there’s a reason why soondae or blood sausage is on this list of must-try’s in Seoul. There are different variations and ways to make soondae but traditionally, it is mixed with pork blood, glutinous rice, and cellophane noodles. It is crispy on the outside but chewy on the inside – and the taste of the sausage really comes through with the combination of the ingredients. While it can be enjoyed on its own like most Korean street food, it can also be added to a stew or soup.
Special Mention: Beondegi (Silkworm Pupae)
If you’re feeling adventurous this is something you’d definitely want to try. This local delicacy is incredibly famous in the country, that is said to even have health benefits! Beongdegi, or silkworm pupae, as uncommon as it sounds is actually a common street food that Koreans often enjoy!
They are steamed to perfection and is served piping hot. Once you bite through it the first time, it will literally explode in your mouth before the flavour begins to melt and set it. As notorious as it sounds, it’s said that it does not actually taste all that bad. Think of it as a juicy and nutty snack.
There’s our list of Korean street food that we think you should definitely try when in the city! Did we miss out any of your favourites? Leave us a comment down below!