Perhaps nowhere better than South Korea is street food highlighted as a major industry. There are big bucks to be made by selling our favourite street snacks, such as tteokbokki and odeng, and you cannot walk anywhere in South Korea’s big cities without coming across a night market or pojangmacha of some kind. In these markets, you will be find good Korean food served by people in good spirits.
There is a real communal feeling when walking around Seoul after dark, knowing that the smell of fried foods being cooked just around the block by friendly vendors is there to help you soak up the soju! Check my other article for a full list of the most popular dishes from Korean cuisine, but which street foods are most popular in South Korea? I have listed below a dozen delicious street eats that you simply must try when you’re next in the country!
Sundae is made generally by boiling or steaming cow or pig’s intestines that are then stuffed with various ingredients. It is a kind of blood sausage and believed to have been eaten for a long time as a street food in both South and North Korea.
Hot Dog Potato (or potato hotdog) are essentially sausages-on-a-stick that are cooked inside French fries to make it look as though the chips are encasing the sausage, hence the name. These classic Korean street snacks were invented in the Hongdae distract of Seoul but have been exported to other areas in the region. These snacks, as you can imagine, are very calorific and probably not the best street food to buy if you’re on a diet!
Kimbap is made from steamed white rice (bap) and various other ingredients, rolled in gim (sheets of dried laver seaweed) and served in bite-size slices. Kimbap is often eaten during picnics or outdoor events, or as a light lunch, served with danmuji or kimchi. It is very similar to Japanese sushi. Make your own Kimbap at home!
Hotteok is a filled Korean pancake, eaten especially during Winter months. Whereas pajeon is a normal pancake (perhaps with toppings), Hotteok are filled with ingredients such as warm meats or kimchi, and provide a great opportunity to grab a bite to eat as you continue your shopping! Make your own Hotteok at home!
Bundegi are steamed or boiled silkworm pupae which are seasoned and eaten as a snack. Bundegi are often served by street vendors, as well as in restaurants and drinking establishments as Anju (a snack to go with beer). While European and American people may cringe at eating silkworm pupae, this is actually a pretty typical Korean street food!
Gyeran-Bbang (egg bread) is a simple-yet-effective street food sold prominently across Seoul and other regions of South Korea. It is essentially a freshly baked piece of bread with a fried egg on top to give the bread more taste. The egg can also be used as a filling. Make your own Gyeran-Bbang at home!
Tteokbokki is a popular Korean snack food made from soft rice cake, fish cake, and gochujang. It is commonly purchased from street vendors or pojangmacha. Along with kimbap, tteokbokki is one of the most common street foods in all of Korea. Make your own Tteokbokki at home!
Tornado Potato is an invention from the Myeongdong Night Market. It has similarities with the Hot Dog Potato, but rather than the sausage being encased by chips, the potato is actually severed in swirls around the sausage to make quite a visually-appealling street snack. Make your own Tornado Fries at home!
Odeng is a fishy snack which can be boiled or deep-fried on a skewer in broth and is sold in street carts where they can be eaten with alcoholic beverages, especially soju. The fishy broth is sometimes given to the customer in paper cups for dipping and drinking. Any kind of fish can be used for the odeng, but regularly include the Alaska Pollock, Whitefish, and even some species of shark meat.
Grilled Octopus Legs are among the most popular street food snacks in Korea and can also be consumed as Anju before – and during – drinking. They are usually heavily salted before being grilled but octopus legs are highly versatile as they can be eaten like French fries!
Ppopgi (also known as Dalgona) is a form of Korean sweet candy made from melted sugar and baking soda. It is a type of snack, where you have to eat or trim your way around an outline or picture on the snack, with the object being not to break the picture, although as a form of street food the vendor will normally do this for you. Make your own Ppopgi at home!
Ice Cream J-Cone was made famous on the streets of Insadong in Seoul. Nowadays, this J-shaped corn snack that is full of soft serve ice cream can be found all over the country, and has been exported to other areas of Asia, such as Hong Kong, Malaysia, and the Philippines. The J-cone is a perfect way to relax and chill out on a steamy summer’s day!
South Korea has so many amazing street foods that it was difficult to keep this list down to just 12 items! What is your favourite street food from Korea?