Visiting the Motherland - Korean Street Food

Visiting the Motherland - Korean Street Food

Visiting Korea, one of the things I was looking forward to the most was the street food. Probably since everyone walks so much in Korea, street food is available for people who are in a hurry, even get a quick drink before heading home.  This is in addition to tons of restaurants, cafes, and fast food places all over Seoul.

There was everything from meat to pastries to desserts. Even desserts in pastries!


Since street food has to be easy to eat, a lot of the items were on a stick. Meat, fish cakes, hot dogs, rice cakes... if you could spear it, they sold it.


Street food was available everywhere. In Myung-Dong, they block off car traffic so people can safely walk and eat and shop. Mind you, there are SO many people that even without cars to worry about, you could get run over by people if you don't pay attention.


The most famous street food is tteokbokki, which is rice cakes in spicy sauce. I used to eat this everyday after school with my girlfriends when I lived in Korea. It has special memories for me, so I tried eating this as much as I can. We visited a famous place near Hongdae (HongIk University) called Jo-pok Tteokbokki, which means Gangster Tteokbokki, and it was the best we had on the trip. We had Kimbap and Soondae (blood sausage) along with it, and the three items are affectionately referred to as Kim Tteok Soon in Korea (because it sounds like a Korean person's name). I highly recommend you meet Kim Tteok Soon on your next visit to Korea!


We also stopped by Pojang-Macha, which literally means "covered wagon", and it's a small tented restaurant on wheels. Usually when people had no other means, they started a Pojang-Macha to make ends meet since there is no overhead or rent. It's frequented after hours for soju and cheap late night eats, and for some reason, everything tastes better at Pojang-Machas. We were happy we made it to one, and we even felt like we were in a Korean drama (Pojang-Macha is frequently featured in Kdramas with drunk people either crying or yelling).


The most memorable area for street food was Gwang-Jang Market, where it's all about food stands. There are numerous little food stands with Korean ajummas working super hard. They prep, cook, and deal with customers with grace and speed that is impressive and admirable. Although I enjoy fine dining as much as the next person, I respect all forms and styles of chefs. These ladies are truly dedicated to their craft.

Every little alley had a specialized street food item, and we tried the Korean mung bean pancakes and tteokbokki.

We also had raw beef with live squid.  It wasn't my first choice, but we decided to go for it, since we were in Korea after all, and hubby insisted.  The raw beef comes with a layer of sweet Korean pear slices, then a mound of raw beef with an egg on top. They also add squirming little pieces of live squid to the dish, and you mix it all up and dip it in sesame oil with salt. The sweetness of the pear with the nuttiness of the sesame oil really brings out the freshness of the squid and beef for one memorable taste.  Not for the faint of heart, but I gotta admit, hubby made a good call.

There is also an alley dedicated to bibimbap, which is one of the most famous Korean dishes. They had all the ingredients prepped, and they make a bowl for you on the spot.

Another alley was known for kal-gook-soo, which is knife-cut noodles. Ladies were rolling the dough and cutting up the noodles continuously. Seriously, we could've gotten lost and spent days eating at Gwang-Jang Market!


Inexpensive, delicious, and accessible, street food in Korea is a part of its culture. Some dishes are classic, but there are new items created all the time.

We even saw bread shaped like poop! Now that is appetizing, isn't it?  Hope you get to try it next time you're in Korea!

Related Posts:
Visiting the Motherland - Korean Restaurant Reviews
Visiting the Motherland - Korea Sightseeing
Visiting the Motherland - Hanok Experience

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