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“Mashisoyo” as they say in South Korea – this is the word for ‘delicious’ that you’ll continually be using when you try Korean street food straight from the source.
From oh so spicy dishes to decadent desserts and oodles of noodles, there is so much good food to try in South Korea. All of the street food we tried whilst in South Korea was generally inexpensive and readily available in multiple street food markets like Gwangjang Market or Myeongdong night market.
A foodie’s dream and suitable for all travel budgets, this is the best street food to try in South Korea. Remember to leave your accommodation hungry as there are sooo many good foods to eat when travelling around South Korea.
Korean street food you must try in South Korea
For us, bibimbap was one of the most delicious foods we tried during our time in South Korea.
A dish which is served in a bowl with a whole heap of vegetables, barley, kimchi and usually a fried egg on top (and sometimes with meat), bibimbap is bloody tasty. And also blimmin hot – half the fun is holding the red hot iron skillet with a metal handle as the bibimbap continues to simmer.
2. Rice Cakes (Tteokbokki)
A South Korean foodie institution and a nice rice cake to boot, Tteok-bokki is incredibly popular either as a main dish or a side dish (and often served with eomuk – like a thin starchy fishcake).
Served in bright red anchovy sauce (sweet AND spicy), tteok-bokki is a must try street food. We tried it on multiple occasions and some versions were a tad more thicker and gloopy than others.
We found our personal preference was the smaller Tteok-bokki ‘cakes’ as often, the larger ones are quite difficulty to chew, especially without a drink.
3. Korean Corn Dog
A very popular fast-food in South Korea (now widely exported), Korean Corn Dogs are a traditional hot dog sausage wrapped in panko bread crumbs and a cheese filling.
They are often served with mustard and tomato sauce (ketchup) but we’ve also seen versions where the sauce is already inside with the cheese.
4. Korean Sweet Pancake (Hotteok)
After leaving South Korea, we are still hungry for hotteoks. Possibly our favourite dessert whilst in South Korea, this is simply a sweet and sticky Korean dessert pancake that comes in a variety of flavours like honey, brown sugar or chocolate.
5. Candy / Sugar Strawberries
Sweet as. Sugared and syrupy strawberries served on a cocktail stick (often three or four in number) are the perfect street food dessert after a spicy meal. Widely available, these are a little more on the expensive side than most Korean street foods but utterly delicious (and one way of getting 1 of your 5 a day fruits).
We also saw single strawberries on skewers blinged with sugar coating and all manner of treats like chocolate sprinkles, marshmallows and icing.
Other sugary and candied fruit is available like grapes are also available but strawberry seemed to be the most popular and the one that most street food vendors sold.
6 Knife-Cut Noodles (Gohyang Kalguksu)
There is something very hearty about home-made knife-cut noodles which are rolled, kneaded and then cut up in front of your very own eyes, before being added to a soupy broth. Sometimes served with vegetables and meat dumplings, devour them all whilst still hot.
There has been a resurgence in the interest of gohyang kalguksu in recent years (especially in Seoul) in part thanks to them being featured on the Netflix series ‘Street Food: Asia’.
Expect to pay around 6,000 to 7,000 Korean Won for a dish of knife-cut noodles from a street food cart or night market in South Korea.
Read about the Netflix knife-cut noodle ladies stall at Gwangjang Market here >
7. Dumplings (Mandu)
Mandu are Korean dumplings and widely available from street food stalls and night markets. You usually order them swimming in a noodle soup or served steamed just by themselves.
The two most common versions of mandu are usually kimchi (spicy cabbage) or minced pork.
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8. Korean Fried Chicken (Dakgangjeong)
Sprinkle cuts of fine boneless chicken covered in a spicy and sweet sauce glaze with additional seasonings like cut up peanuts or sesame seed and et voila, you have Dakgangjeong.
We had Dakgangjeong countless times in South Korea and it has to be one of our top 5 Korean street food dishes whilst there.
It can be bought from street food stalls but we’d recommend trying Dakgangjeong / Korean fried chicken with a nice pint of cold Korean beer (like Cass) in a fried chicken pub.
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9. Mung Bean Pancake (Bindaetteok)
Hear that crunching noise whilst at a night market in South Korea?! That’ll be the Bindaetteok (mung bean pancakes) being prepared! Witness grinding mills and wheels crushing up mung beans, ready to be dropped into a batter mix, usually with kimchi and some serious spices.
The final touch is a sprinkle of seasonings like garlic or pepper before being boiled in hot oil.
Greasy as but pretty tasty, expect to pay 5,000 Korean Won for a huge Korean street food pancake (you can sometimes buy smaller ones too).
10. Korean Street Toast (Gilgeori Toast)
Korean street toast is a hugely popular and iconic breakfast street food (or daytime snack). It is a sweet and savoury sandwich made from thick slices of buttered bread which are toasted on a grill, and then filled with meat, omelette, cheese, ketchup, sugar and crunchy shredded cabbage.
Gilgeori Toast can be found at many street food vendor stalls, but we tried several varieties from a chain street food stall called Isaac Toast which we highly recommend.
11. Fish Shaped Pastry Waffles (Bungeoppang)
Hello little fishy! Next time you are in South Korea, chow down on these carp like waffles, shaped in a piscine shape (but not containing any actual seafood or fish).
Various fillings include custard, chocolate or the more traditional red bean – these are very popular as a winter dessert and are very filling.
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11. Korean Blood Sausage (Ssondae / Ssundae)
Ssondae / Korean blood sausage is usually made from pig blood and noodles / rice served in a cow or pig intestine, making for a slightly chewy texture.
They are generally sliced into small pieces before serving. This is often served as a combo with the above mentioned Tteokbokki rice cakes.
12. Deep Fried Vegetables, Meats and Seafood (Twigim)
Twigim is the Korean version of Japanese tempura, and are a popular greasy treat! Vegetables, seafoods or meats are deep fried in a light, crispy batter and served with a soy sauce or spicy dip.
This Korean street food is often found at night markets and is great when paired with tteokbokki!
13. Korean Pancakes (Buchimgae)
Buchimgae is a crisp, hearty Korean savoury pancake, made by frying a thick batter into a thin flat pancake shaped fritter.
There are a few different buchimgae types such as green onion, chives or kimchi. The pancake is cut up before being served with a dipping sauce.
We tried various versions of Korean pancakes and found them a bit hit and miss – if you can get fresh ones, go for that as those buchimgae that seem to be reheated often tasted quite greasy and lacklustre.
14. Twisted Donuts / doughnuts (Kkwabaegi)
Classic Korean doughnuts twisted are popular in night markets, street food stalls and bakeries across South Korea. Candy-floss like inside (soft, sweet and fluffy) with a golden outside, these sweet treats are served with a sugar glaze. ‘Donut’ visit South Korea without trying Kkwabaegi.
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15. Chicken Feet (Dakbal)
Marinated chicken feet are incredibly popular and often a cheaper alternative to the traditional Korean fried chicken (the latter is usually made from chicken breast or chicken thigh).
As well as being popular at street food markets and night markets, dakbal is popular as a deep fried snack food in pubs and bars.
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16. Mayak Kimbap / Ggoma Gimbap
Similar to sushi rolls you’d get in Japan, Mayak Kimbaps are widely available and pretty cheap .
‘Mayak’ in Korean is slang for ‘drugs’, so highly addictive are these savoury snack rolls! Versions differ depending on the region but most mayak kimbaps contain pickled radish, carrots and greens.
17. Egg Bread (Gyeran-ppang)
Eggs-cellent street food and one of the very first things we tried whilst trying snack food in South Korea.
It is also one of the cheapest street-foods around, costing usually 1,000 to 2,000 Korean Won a time. Gyeran-ppang is essentially an egg baked in a sweet and soft bread (kind of somewhere in between a pancake and cup-cake).
18. Pan-fried Rice Cake (Bukkumi)
Another South Korean pancake variant, bukkumi is a pan-fried tteok made with glutinous rice flour that comes in a multitude of flavours like pumpkin or sweet potato.
19. Korean Honeycomb Candy (Dalgona or Ppopgi)
Popularised overseas by its appearance in Netflix’s global streaming hit Squid Game, many street food vendors in South Korea now sell the honeycomb biscuit (dalgona) with big placards showing the Squid Game characters (hopefully the Netflix copyright team aren’t skulking in the shadows).
Dalgona is made with sugar and baking soda. As in the Netflix show Squid Game, many street food vendors sell versions with shapes ready to be carved out by you (if you dare!).
Our final Korean street food…
20. Korean Fish Cake (Eomuk)
Korean fish cakes are a very popular Korean street food snack during the winter months and are made from minced white fish and flour. They are available in different shapes (long or zigzagged) and the most common way to eat them is on a skewer which has been boiled in a fish broth.
Street vendors will sell the skewered fish cake with some of the hot broth inside a paper cup for you to take away and eat. You can also find street food vendors selling tteokbokki and eomuk together on a stick!
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