The best of street food in South Korea: 10 delicious reasons to try it

Eating at markets or street stands is one of Koreans' favorite pastimes, with family and friends. Here are 10 quick dishes to indulge in during a stay in the Land of Calm Mornings.

For several years, the hansik – Korean gastronomy – has made a place of choice in global gastronomic culture. From Paris to Los Angeles via Tokyo, there are countless places serving the country's emblematic dishes such as bibimbapTHE bulgogi or the famous Korean barbecue, to be accompanied by kimchi spicy and soju. “K-Food” has even become one of the triggers for a trip to Korea.

Once there, you absolutely must experience the joys of bunsik, rich street food local. Served in most large urban markets (such as Gwangjang Market in Seoul), it can also be enjoyed in restaurants. pojangmacha – literally, “covered carts” – these small street stands setting up in the evening in the lively neighborhoods of big cities.


Rice pasta in a sweet and savory sauce is the recipe for Tteokbokki.
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The essential of street food Korean! This extremely popular dish can be found in all markets and in most street canteens, especially at the counters of pojanmacha. It is rice pasta bathed in a sweet and salty red sauce flavored with Korean chili pepper. There are different variations of this dish, which can sometimes be accompanied by vegetables or even eggs or seafood. Please note that in the past, we did not put chili pepper in the ttekbokki and that the use of this ingredient remains relatively recent.


Eomuk is a skewered fish cake.
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Of course, it's perhaps not the one that makes you want the most. This funny “fish cake”, which takes the form of coils folded on themselves, is always presented on the markets in a burning umami broth. To make this dish of Japanese origin – under the name of oden –, street cooks mix flour with fish (or even squid) puree, to which they add some fresh vegetables, before frying everything in boiling oil. In general, we taste theeomuk in accompaniment of tteokbokki.


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It is a kind of thick golden pancake, essentially made of mung bean puree – what we wrongly call soybean sprouts – and which can be accompanied by kimchi, or even pork. Before being served hot, the whole thing is fried in large pans full of oil. Popular cuisine dish whose origins date back to the 17th centurye century, the bindaetteok is very popular during the harsh Korean winters and often accompanies weddings. It goes wonderfully with a good glass of soju


Here is one of the stars of the street food local, which can now be found all over the world. In Korea, the mandu can be eaten both in the street and in dedicated restaurants. It is a kind of ravioli, meat or vegetarian, which has points in common with several other Asian specialties: Japanese gyozas, Pekingese raviolis or even Nepalese momos. Our mandu favorite? Those topped with cabbage kimchi, very spicy and very tasty. Shaped like a crescent moon or more rounded, steamed or grilled in a pan, this specialty can satisfy a little hunger at any time…


Twigim are all fried vegetables offered in Korean markets.
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If we dared, we would compare them to Japanese tempura while for some, this specialty would rather be an avatar of pakora Indian. Omnipresent in the markets or in the stands of street food, THE yachae twigim includes all fried vegetables, from peppers to eggplant, onions or carrots. Very finely breaded, they turn out to be as delicious as they are digestible. There is also a more marine version, the ojingeo twigim, fried squid which goes wonderfully with tteokbokki.

Gimbap (or Kimbap)

Present both on the street and in convenience stores, the
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One of the great classics of street food Korean, kind of long maki consisting of rice and vegetables wrapped in seaweed. However, there are many different versions, with a host of ingredients inside: raw vegetables (carrot, cucumber) or cooked vegetables like spinach, fish (tuna, surimi) or meat (breaded pork, knack sausage), but also omelette… Present both in the street and in convenience stores, the gimbap plays the role of a snack in Korea.


The Korean sundae is a bit reminiscent of our black pudding.

Be careful, false friend! Nothing to do with American-style ice cream since this specialty present in most markets happens to be a sort of steamed black pudding, composed of pork meat and blood accompanied by rice (or noodles), as well as just a few vegetables. For those who are not fans of blood sausage, know that its taste is less marked than that of its French cousin. It has been consumed and appreciated for several centuries in Korea.


Enjoyed with a cold beer, Korean fried chicken has conquered restaurants in street food of the whole planet. In its native country, it is served in a thick sauce, both sweet and very spicy. To prepare it properly, you have to fry it in two batches, which accentuates its crispy side. This recipe would have its origins in the United States and would have been imported by the GI's during the Korean War. The sauce, prepared with gojuchang, a fermented condiment containing red pepper, on the other hand, would be 100% Korean!


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Craving a sweet treat? So try them hotteok, a kind of pancakes made with a dough consisting of a mixture of flour and sticky rice. Inside, brown sugar and cinnamon are added, sometimes topped with chopped nuts, peanuts or seeds. This street dessert is very popular during the cold season: served hot, it is highly comforting. However, be careful not to burn yourself while eating it because the sugar flows easily. L'hotteok could come from China but nothing is less certain…


If you've ever been to Japan, this little fish-shaped cake is probably familiar to you.
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A must for those with a sweet tooth, this little cake in the shape of a fish – a carp, to be precise – is filled with delicious red bean paste. Taste equivalent of our waffles, this specialty would nevertheless originate from Japan (under the name of taiyaki). The paths of taste turn out to be very tortuous! In reality, the bungeoppang is a legacy of the Japanese colonial period. They can be found almost everywhere in the country, particularly during winter, when they invade street stands.

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