Eat Like A Local: Seoul Food For The Soul

Eat Like A Local: Seoul Food For The Soul
Gwangjang market, Seoul, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Korean street food never fails to surprise you. The land of cheap yet lip-smacking treats, here are 8 appetising street food snacks you cannot miss in Seoul

Roshni Subramanian
October 31 , 2019
11 Min Read

Well, thanks to K-Pop  and K-Drama, South Korea has managed to showcase its culture to the entire world. Isn’t it high time that we gave Korean food it’s due credit? There is no doubt that South Korea is a foodie’s paradise. Many restaurants here in Delhi have by now mastered the art of Korean cuisine, but nothing comes close to the real deal. What adds on to the glory of Korean cuisine is the array of delectable street food that the capital city Seoul offers.

The largest metropolis in South Korea, Seoul is the land of opportunities. Home to some of the most popular Asian markets, the city is truly a sight to behold. The abundance of street food all over Korean streets is enough to toss all your dietary plans out of the window. The sheer variety and unique presentation of each snack will work up your appetite. Well, we won’t mind having some of these dishes on our streets. While the culinary experiences of the ‘Seoul City’ await you, take a look at our favourite Korean street food dishes. 

Spicy Tteokbokki

Tteokbokki

Tteokbokki also spelt ddeokbokki is a Korean rice cake dish and probably the most popular street food snack to come out of Korea. There are two variations to this preparation. You can either opt for the original version with spicy gochujang or even experiment with the soy-sauce based alternative. An ultimate comfort food, tteokbokki is a blend of red chillies, fermented soy beans and gochujang paste which add on to its fiery flavour. Most Koreans have grown up on these rice cakes, so a trip to Seoul is not really successful if you haven’t savored the goodness of this spicy concoction.

 
 
 
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Jjukkumi

Given this country’s love for seafood, it doesn’t come as a surprise that jjukkumi is a popular delicacy here. But mind you, this one isn’t for the faint-hearted. Jjukkumi literally translates to baby octopus.Yes, you heard that right. To begin with, it might not sound very appetizing, but it sure is a delicacy in Korea. Marinated in the classic gouchujang paste, Jjukkumi is hard to miss if you’re taste buds are up for a challenge. You can experience bursts of flavours in every bite. With alleys filled with stalls and carts selling this dish, jjukkumi is a must have on your Korea-haul.

 
 
 
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Chimaek 

A bucket of fried chicken, a can of chilled beer, and Netflix for company. We won’t be wrong in calling it the’ holy trifecta’. And thankfully we aren’t the only ones with these ideas. It seems this Korean classic chimaek has a similar backstory. A mash-up of ‘chi’ meaning chicken and ‘maek’ meaning beer, chimeak is an accidental discovery that we couldn’t be more grateful for. A quintessential comfort food, there are a number of chicken beer bars in Seoul that serve this combination. While this heavenly pairing started out in the 1970’s, today it’s a staple of the Korean cuisine. 

 
 
 
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Gyeran Bbang

Be it scrambled, poached or boiled, eggs make for a wholesome breakfast. Well, the Koreans aren’t that easy to impress. Adding a unique twist to the regular eggs is the Korean street food gyeran bbhang,  a warm oval-shaped loaf with egg either on top or sandwiched between two slices. These egg muffins are sweet with a salty egg inside. Topped with a generous amount of chopped bacon, fresh herbs and vegetables, these egg muffins are the perfect breakfast choice during the biting winters. Many might say that it is similar to a corn muffin, but it’s a lot fluffier and is often found being sold at street corners along with sweet pancakes (hotteok).

 
 
 
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Tornado Potatoes

It’s nothing less than a Korean masterpiece. One of the first images that pop in one’s head when we talk about the Korean street food scene are visuals of vibrant carts and markets with endless varieties of exotic vegetables. This is more often than not the stereotype that is associated with Korean street food. But as hard as it may be to believe, tornado potatoes are an exception and and a testament to the saying ‘less is more’. This Korean dish proves that our love for potatoes transcends all boundaries. Deep fried and sprinkled with cheese, chilli or onion powder and served on a skewer, tornado potatoes are culinary genius at its best. 

Kimbap

Craving for a Japanese sushi? What if we add a Korean twist to it? A lesser known fact is that there’s a Korean version of the delectable sushi called kimbap or gimbap. However the similarity and difference between the two begins and ends at steamed rice and seaweed. While preparing sushi, the  rice is seasoned with vinegar, but in case of kimbap it is cut with sesame oil. As far as the filling goes, while the Japanese folk use different kinds of raw fish including salmon, tuna and even chopped scallops,in the Korean version on the other hand, the filling mainly consists of canned tuna, kimchi, grilled bulgogi and ham and cheese. Kimbap is not only a favourite amongst the adults but also makes for a great lunch time snack for kids. 

Eomuk 

When the harsh winters set in, eomuk guk is the ultimate comforter. A popular street food snack, Eomuk or Odeng is the Korean take on fish cake soup and is a crowd favourite . Fish cakes are put on a barbecue stick and cooked in fish broth. The street version is sold on skewers with the hot broth sold separately in a cup. In Korea fish cakes are considered to be extremely versatile. They are used for soup( eomuk-tang), side dish (eomuk-bokkeum) and even kimbap. However the origins of this dish lies in the Japanese dish oden, a stew made with fish cakes. While one can find Eomuk on the streets of Seoul, the city of Busan is most famous for this signature dish. 

 
 
 
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Bungeoppang

Korea has no dearth of unique and funky stuff and bungeoppang is just the tip of the iceberg. A flaky fish shaped croissant pastry or bread with sweet red bean filling and pressed in hot goldfish mold pans, bungeoppang is a super popular street food snack. Available in a  range of flavours like custard cream, sweet potatoes and pizza, one can relish this snack at street carts as well as high-end cafes. 

We’d say that the best way to explore a country is to try out the local cuisine. So hop onto the next flight and let your appetite lead the way!

Read more of our Eat Like A Local stories! 


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