The Hallyu wave has helped to promote Korean food worldwide and many people are becoming increasingly fond of these dishes. We head to popular food streets in Korea (think Myeongdong, Hongdae, Dongdaemun and Ewha Girls University) and put together some of the best traditional and authentic Korean cuisine.
Before we start the food expedition, here are some tips: Bring small change; most of the street food costs around 2000 won to 6000 won. Come with an empty stomach and psst: you can’t forget to bring some wet or dry tissue to avoid getting messy.
Here, what we love and would come back for:
#1 Tteokbokki (Spicy rice cakes)
Who doesn’t love them? Most tteokbokki is made up of boiled egg, fishcakes, chewy rice cakes topped with evenly-spread red pepper sauce. For added crunch, add twigim (meaning deep-fried; but in this case it refers to a battered snack that is similar to Japanese tempura).
#2 Kimbap (Korean sushi roll)
If you think that this is Japanese maki (sushi wrapped in seaweed), then you are wrong. We’d call it a more down-to-earth, affordable and bite-sized alternative, which is perfect for picnics and road trips. What you have to try: The mayak aka drug kimbap. As the name suggests, many find them addictive, akin to effects of drugs. The secret behind it? Tons of sesame oil to make it tasty.
Inside tip: You can only find this inside Gwangjang Market! There are reportedly fake ones too, so be sure not to get tricked.
#3 Gyeran-ppang (Egg bread)
Sweet and fluffy, the loaf of bread has a whole egg in it, and it makes a really popular street food because it isn’t only cheap, it is the perfect go-to snack for comfort. There are many versions to it, including one with added mozzarella cheese. If you’re not looking forward to have these warm breads in Korea, we’re not sure what will!
#4 Kimchijeon (Kimchi pancakes)
Korean pancakes sold in Singapore pale in comparison with those bought from the local street vendors. Which is why you have to try the freshly-made ones. Made up of simple ingredients like kimchi and flour, they are nothing but delectable. Not a fan of kimchi? There are other variations like pajeon aka green onion pancakes or haemul pajeon aka seafood pancakes). Psst: The best way to eat it? Pair with a glass of soju, just like the locals.
#5 Ppopgi (Sugar candy)
This popular street snack is a light sweet that consists of sugar and baking soda. Traditionally, the street vendor will give you another one (for free!) if you managed to eat around the pattern without breaking the candy. Up for the challenge?
#6 Hotteok (Korean pancake with fillings)
We can see why this makes a popular childhood snack. With a variety of fillings available (both sweet and savoury), the most common is the brown sugar (melted to black sugar syrup). Others include honey, peanut and cinnamon. How it is served to you: In a cup so that it is easier for you to eat while shopping.
Insider tip: Avoid getting scalded on your first bite as the filling is hot.
#7 Hot Bar (Fish cake bar)
These deep-fried seafood skewers are often filled with extra ingredients like perilla leaves, sausage, cheese and even rice cakes. Don’t be in a hurry to leave after buying. We’d recommend you to stay and watch the fascinating culinary skills exhibited by the street vendors.
#8 Sundae (Korean blood sausage)
If you love to eat intestines and organ meat, the blood sausage is something you need to try. It is made by mixing pork blood with cellophane noodles and glutinous rice. We figured that like durian, you either love it or hate it.
#9 Grilled octopus skewers
Try having grilled octopus if eating live octopus sounds horrendously dangerous to you. They are often steamed first to retain the octopus’ natural flavour and texture. These skewers are then grilled to perfection, drizzled with teriyaki or sweet chilli sauce.
#10 Beondegi (Boiled silkworm larvae)
If you’re the adventurous sort, this might appeal to you. They are basically boiled silkworm pupae which are seasoned, then served in a cup with toothpick skewers. In fact, you can find them in convenience stores (sold in cans) if you can’t find them on the streets. The verdict: It tasted like boiled peanut, and we’d like to think that some of you would appreciate the acquired taste from this local snack.
Share with us your favourite Korean street food in the comment box below!
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