Savory, sweet, spicy—the flavors of Korean street food run the whole gamut. For adventurous travelers who want to try an assortment of local fare without breaking the bank, some of the best places to eat in South Korea are right on the street.
From exotic critters to familiar comfort food with a twist, here are just several of the tastiest must-try street food in South Korea.
One of the most popular Korean dishes you’ll find at street stalls is tteokbokki or spicy rice cakes. These chewy penne-shaped cakes are cooked in a spicy red chili paste known as gochujang. A true South Korea favorite, there’s even a marketplace known as Sindang-dong Tteokbokki Town, where the modern version of the dish is believed to have originated.
Most travelers will recognize this dish as pajeon is the Korean version of pancakes. Each vendor will have their own recipe for this well-loved snack, but the most basic version usually consists of egg batter and scallions. Some cooks prefer to stuff the pajeon with a variety of ingredients, such as squid, beef, pork, kimchi, and the like.
There are a lot of Korean food that look familiar, including gimbap or kimbap, which is the country’s own adaptation of sushi and followed Japan’s occupation of Korea. Gimbap is made of rice, meat, and vegetables all wrapped in seaweed. While it’s usually cut in bite-size rolls, some vendors serve bigger, more filling slices.
Dumplings in Korea are called mandu, of which there’s an endless variety found in Seoul streets and other cities. The most popular type is kimchi mandu, of course. Take a bite of this savory Korean street snack, which is stuffed with ground pork and spicy kimchi.
Arguably the most popular food item in Korean cuisine is Korean barbecue. While most people troop to sit-down restaurants to feast on barbecue, those who just want a quick bite can just drop by one of the many stalls along Seoul’s streets.
Another Korean version of a well-loved staple is twigim or a Korean tempura. Many tourists say that it’s an even tastier version of tempura, so make sure you try a couple of variants during your trip to South Korea. Common twigim include prawns and various vegetables.
Blood Sausage or Sundae
Those with queasy stomachs may shy away from so-called blood sausages or sundae. The popular Korean street food is usually made of cow or pig intestines stuffed with pig’s blood, noodles, and other ingredients. While it doesn’t sound too appealing, it’s actually not that far off from classic Western sausages.
Beongdegi is another exotic Korean delicacy that’s an acquired taste. Try a cup of this dish consisting of steamed silkworm larvae that’s crunchy outside with a flavorful juice inside. Koreans believe beongdegi has medicinal benefits.
French Fry Coated Corn Dog
French fries and corn dogs go wonderfully together, so Koreans figured out a way to combine the two into one mouth-watering snack. Regular corn dogs are deep-fried in a batter of French fries to produce the perfect snack on a stick that’s dubbed as gamja dog.
Gyeranppang or egg muffins are everywhere in South Korea. Served warm with a whole egg baked right on top of the bread, it is a popular, toasty snack that many Koreans enjoy during wintertime. Different vendors sometimes add their own flair to the dish, such as a smattering of parsley or a layer of cheese.
Hotteok is a type of sweet Korean street food that’s somewhere between a pancake and a doughnut. On the streets, watch as vendors fry and flatten clumps of dough into delectable golden disks. The simplest hotteok is filled with just brown sugar and cinnamon, but others are far heartier with seeds, beans, peanuts, honey, and other sweet fillings.
The eye-catching bungeoppang is popular partly for its fish-shaped form, which makes it stand out from the other Korean food choices in stalls. It’s also very tasty, though. Bungeoppang is the local version of a waffle, but it’s filled with sweet red bean paste.
Discover more delicious Korean street food as you wander through the different cities of South Korea. Book a KORAIL Pass and get unlimited rides to explore this beautiful East Asian country.