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Food offerings in South Korea are incredibly diverse, and some of the best options can be found on the streets. So for a curious soul like me, street food is definitely part of the adventure. It’s delicious, cheap and it’s everywhere. What else can you ask for?
Right outside the hotel where I am staying food carts and tents fill all the open spaces. All calling for my name…. Eat me …. Eat me…. Walking through the streets, the sights, sounds and smells of Korean food were enough to send me into overload. But unlike in Manila where you can eat entire meals on the sidewalk, Korean street foods are more on a snack material side.
So if you’re itching to eat some street foods – Korean style here’s my recommendations, let’s begin!
1. Odeng (fish cakes)
This is the cheapest street food you will find in Seoul. It’s a thin rectangular shaped fish cake skewered on a stick and left in a delicious broth. You can eat this plain or with soy sauce. The texture of the fish cake is soft and not springy, it tastes great and it’s filling. This dish is comparable to “fish balls” in Manila.
Price Range: 500 KRW per stick
2. Tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes)
Without a doubt, this is the most popular street food in Seoul – made primarily of cylinder-shaped white rice cake and eaten with fiery, funky gochujang chili paste. Take the color as a warning sign on how spicy it can be, the darker the spicier! If you like it very spicy, adding red chili pepper flakes is the way to increase the heat level without altering the saltiness and sweetness. It was spicy enough for me without any optional red chili pepper flakes added. These spicy rice cakes are simply addictive! So don’t be intimidated, go ahead and indulge.
Price Range: 1000 KRW per cup
3. Gaeran Bbang (Egg bread)
Fun facts first: Gaeran means egg and Bbang is bread, so this is basically a piece of dense and slightly sweet bread with fried egg on top. It reminded me of a french toast. It taste a little bit sweet, a little bit salty but it was really good.
Price Range: 1,000 KRW per piece
Would you like a piece of hot, crispy, and chewy fried dough with sizzling brown sugar syrup oozing out? Then this pancake is for you. These little deep-fried treats were packed with tastiness. It has an almost mochi-like texture. The paste is softened during the frying process and turn into a semi-liquid. There are also a variety of fillings to choose from and the most traditional one is brown sugar, honey, chopped peanuts, and cinnamon.
Price Range: 1,000-1,500 KRW per piece
I am fascinated by bungeoppang ever since I saw them in Korean dramas. The fish-shaped bread is filled with a sweet red bean paste – not fish. They are actually made in a special iron by pouring in a little waffle batter, adding some sweet red bean paste, and covering it up with a little more batter before pressing. It’s a real treat to watch the vendors prepare the bungeoppang fresh before your eyes. I tried one, promptly burnt my tongue on the piping hot goodness, but I am happy I have given it a try.
Price Range: 2,000 KRW per piece
6. Poop cake
To be very clear, while there is no actual poop involved in the recipe of this sweet snack, it does attempt to mimic the shape of a steaming pile of poop. Now that we’re passed that, you may enjoy the cakes’ crispy, doughy goodness and its hot center of red bean. They’re almost exactly the same as bungeoppang, the fish-shaped sweet bean cakes. They even smell the same, with a soft, sweet aroma that was all the more enticing.
Price Range: 2,000 KRW per piece
7. Spicy Fried Chicken
I’m not sure what this is called in Korean, but this crisp chicken tossed in a spicy sweet sauce is ultimately worth trying. It is mixed with fried rice cake and tater tots and served in a cup with toothpicks. A small cup is a great way to satisfy a chicken craving.
Price Range: 3,000 KRW for a small cup
A rice wrapped in seaweed similar to a Japanese style hand roll. Normally served cut into small bite size pieces. The inside ingredients vary but popular ones are kimchi, cheese, beef, tuna, spinach and vegetables. The street version is normally pre-made and wrapped in plastic to remain moist and soft. This can be eaten as a meal or just an on-the-go snack.
Price Range: 3,000 KRW per roll
9. French-fry-encrusted hot dog
It is literally a hotdog coated with fries. The shape of the hot dogs do resemble spiked clubs, but there’s nothing sinister about the snack – except, perhaps, for its calorific value! I suggest eating this only when you are sure it’s freshly fried. Otherwise, it will taste rather soggy and greasy and you will end up scrapping away the fries and just finish the hot dog.
Price range: 3,000 KRW to 4,000 KRW per stick
10. Tornado Potato
I was not really excited to try this because we have it in Manila and I am guessing that the idea came from here hehe 🙂 Basically it’s a thinly spiral-cut potato on a stick that has been deep fried. Once the potato is in your hand, you can dust the spud with your choices of toppings – such as cheese, garlic, salt, or spices. It’s more about the novelty than anything, but it was definitely a fun way to enjoy a potato. They even had a hot dog in the center variation.
Price Range: 2,000 KRW per stick
Similar to Japanese Tempura, you have an option of vegetables, sweet potatoes, shrimp, squid, and dumplings. You can dip it in a soy sauce dressing, or with tteokbokki sauce (gochujang). Unless it’s for health reasons, there’s not much to dislike about crispy deep fried things.
Price Range: 2,000 to 3,000 KRW per serving
12. Dried Octopus & Squid, Pressed Fish
This snack is very popular and said to be the kind of snack that the locals eat and grow up with. But if you’re not used to eating things with tentacles, it may not be for you. If you’re cool with it, then you’ll surely love this. The smell is quite strong, you just can’t miss it if you’re a big seafood fan.
Price Range: 1,000 to 3,000 KRW per cup
Grilled chicken and vegetables on a skewer coated in spicy chili paste and garlic or soy sauce dressing. The chicken is always a bit fatty and tender. Make sure not to say spicy when ordering, for it will really be too spicy.
Price Range: 1,500 to 2,000 KRW per stick
14. One foot-long ice cream cone
When you ask for an ice-cream in Seoul be prepared for what comes next because Seoul is famous for its one-foot ice cream cones! It’s very mild in flavor and light. Whether you go with strawberry or vanilla or a mix, they’re not going to taste too different from each other. It’s far too easy to eat several times a day.
Price Range: 2,000 KRW per cone
15. Roasted Silkworm Pupae (Beongdegi)
I saw this when I was looking for a seven eleven store to buy some banana. I didn’t really eat this because I was too freaked out by it, but it’s definitely one of the street foods you can find in Korea. I thought they were nuts, but they were actually stewed silkworm larvae.
Price Range: 3,000 KRW per cup
There’s so much more that I didn’t get to try, prices were a little higher than I had imagined, but I did manage to fill myself and thoroughly enjoy eating my way through Seoul.
Have you been to Seoul? What is your favorite street food? Write your answer as a comment below.
You may also want to check my blog on: N Seoul Tower and Namsan Park, Gyeongbukgong and Changdeokgung Palace, Hanok Village, My First Impressions of Seoul,Budget Travel in Seoul , Korean BBQ Experience, 15 Must try food in Seoul, Lotte World