An Introduction to Korean Street Food

Written by on February 23, 2011 in Lifestyle

Korea is slowly becoming known for its food around the world, but for me, the greatest food in Korea isn’t in a restaurant, it’s on the street.

Food found here ranges from being very health to the sort of thing cardiologists warn about. The one thing they all have in common? They’re all fabulous. What follows, is a brief introduction to Korean street food’s mouth-watering delicacies.

Ddeokbokki (떡볶이): If there’s one staple street food, this is it. Over time the recipe has changed, but since the 1950s, the street variety has been pretty much the same. Cylindrical rice cakes cooked in a chili paste with pieces of fish cake. It’s a spicy treat that’s really effective at keeping you warm on winter days. A healthy service will usually cost between W2,500 and W3,000.

Sundae (순대): This item gives ddeokbokki a run for it’s money when it comes to claiming the title of what is the most common street food. It’s Korean blood sausage. Served in pig intestines, it is filled with rice, noodles, and meat. Served hot, it has a rich and full flavor. Seoul prices vary, but expect to pay around W3,000 for a serving.

Roasted Corn (옥수수): This is really healthy and can be found just about everywhere. Korean corn is delightful and can really fill you up. If you’re looking for a healthy snack, give this a try. In some areas, you can get a single ear for W1,000.

Fish Cakes (오뎅): This is a great snack. Fish cakes are cooked in a rich broth and are really cheap. After eating two or three, you’re completely full. Plus, the broth that is served with the cakes is awesome. Prices vary and will range between W500 and W1,000 per cake. Well worth it!

Fish Bread (잉어빵): The name makes it seem as if you’d be eating bread made from fish, but that’s not the case. Fish bread is a nice pastry treat. Fish break is essentially a pancake-like mix  encasing a red bean paste. They’re a good treat and fun to eat. Depending on how much red bean paste is in side, these can fill you up quickly. Three fish breads are usually sold for less than W2,000.

Ho Ddeok (호떡): This is one of my favorite treats. The flour shells are filled with cinnamon and sugar. They can either be fried (as shown above) or deep-fried in oil. Either way, they are a wonderful treat of sugary goodness. Each one is usually W1,000.

The Tornado Potato: Imagine an endless fried potato chip. That’s the best way I can describe this delightful street food. Vendors take a small potato, spiral slice it, deep-fry the tuber, and then cake it with seasoning. It’s a fantastic treat while out for the night. They can be a little more expensive, ranging upwards of W2,500 to W3,000 per serving.

Mandu (만두): The Korean word for dumpling is mandu. Like many Korean dishes, there are several varieties on the street. They range from small ones filled with noodles and meat, to giant ones filled with red bean paste. They can be steamed or fried. It’s quite possible that mandus are one of the most versatile street foods here. My personal favorites are ones filled with kimchi (김치만두). Prices vary.

Let’s talk meat.

Corn dogs (핫도그) are called hot dogs in Korea. They usually come in two varieties: breaded and with French-fries.  Either way you order it, they are delicious. Some are even wrapped in flower and deep-fried with vegetables. Other sausages (소세지) are also served on a stick and are equally delicious. If you like chicken, fear not! Order some chicken on a stick or dalkkochi (닭꼬치). These meat dishes may cost upwards of W3,000 per item, but are very filling.

About the Author

Steve Miller

Steve Miller, the QiRanger, is Korea’s best-known travel video blogger-journalist. His videos have been viewed by millions and seen on media outlets in throughout the word. In addition to sharing his entertaining and informative videos, he writes about life abroad and releases a popular podcast. Steve appears regularly on international radio stations, talking about travel, Korean culture and East Asian news. He’s also appeared on Arirang Television sharing unique aspects of Korean life. You can follow Steve on Twitter @QiRanger or visit his site