South Korea is a country with an abundance of delicious street food, and Seoul, its capital city, is home to some of the best. For those seeking an adventure for their taste buds, exploring the streets of Seoul is a must-do activity. The vibrant city has a plethora of food stalls offering various types of Korean cuisine that are sure to tantalize your taste buds.
From spicy rice cake stew to sweet pancakes filled with nuts and cinnamon sugar, Seoul’s street food scene has something for everyone. Whether you’re in search of a quick snack or a hearty meal on-the-go, you’ll find it all in this bustling metropolis. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to determine which foods are worth trying. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you navigate through the streets and uncover the best street foods that Seoul has to offer. So grab your chopsticks and let’s get eating!
Tteokbokki – Spicy Rice Cake Stew
This popular Korean dish of Tteokbokki is widely known for its spicy and savory flavors, making it a staple in the country’s culinary scene. The dish consists of cylindrical-shaped rice cakes that are cooked in a spicy sauce made from gochujang (Korean chili paste), soy sauce, and sugar. It is often served with fish cakes, boiled eggs, and scallions to add more flavor and texture.
Tteokbokki has become so popular that there are now different variations of the dish available throughout Seoul. Some restaurants serve it with cheese or seafood, while others offer a milder version for those who can’t handle too much spice. Regardless of the variation, Tteokbokki remains one of the most beloved street foods in Seoul and is definitely worth trying if you’re looking for an authentic taste of Korean cuisine.
Kimbap – Korean Sushi Rolls
The section dedicated to exploring Kimbap in Seoul’s culinary scene delves into the intricacies of Korean sushi rolls and offers insight into their preparation, presentation, and unique flavor profile. Kimbap is a popular street food item that has become a staple in South Korea’s food culture. It consists of rice, vegetables, meat or seafood, and other ingredients rolled up in seaweed sheets. The dish originated from Japan’s sushi rolls but has since evolved to incorporate distinctive Korean flavors.
Kimbap variations are endless as vendors experiment with different fillings to cater to diverse tastes. One popular variation is the tuna kimbap which features canned tuna as its primary filling with mayonnaise for added flavor. Another variation is the bulgogi kimbap which uses marinated beef as its main ingredient and adds carrots and pickled radish for texture. While there are similarities between kimbap and sushi, such as their use of seaweed sheets and rice; the differences lie in their fillings, seasonings, and presentation style. Regardless of these factors, kimbap remains a must-try dish when visiting Seoul’s vibrant street food scene.
Jajangmyeon – Noodles with Black Bean Sauce
Jajangmyeon, a popular dish in Korean cuisine, consists of noodles topped with a savory black bean sauce and various vegetables. The origin of the dish can be traced back to Chinese immigrants who settled in Incheon during the early 1900s. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s that jajangmyeon became widely popular among Koreans.
There are several variations of jajangmyeon, including “jjolmyeon,” which uses chewy wheat noodles instead of regular noodles, and “seafood jajangmyeon,” which adds seafood such as squid or shrimp to the dish. Popular jajangmyeon restaurants in Seoul include Gonghwachun Jjajangmyeon (공화춘짜장면), Sinseon Seolleongtang Jjajang (신선설렁탕짜장), and Chilgapsan Jjajangmyeon (칠갑산짜장면). Whether you’re looking for a quick lunch or a hearty dinner, jajangmyeon is sure to satisfy your cravings for comfort food.
Hotteok – Sweet Pancakes with Filling
Hotteok is a popular Korean street food that has captured the hearts of many locals and tourists alike. These sweet pancakes are made by mixing wheat flour, yeast, sugar, and water to create a soft dough. They are then filled with different variations of sweet fillings such as cinnamon, brown sugar, honey, or nuts before being fried until crispy on the outside but chewy on the inside.
If you’re looking for the best places to try hotteok in Seoul, look no further than Myeong-dong Street and Gwangjang Market. Myeong-dong Street is known for its trendy shops and bustling streets, but it’s also home to some of the best hotteok vendors in Seoul. Gwangjang Market is one of Korea’s oldest traditional markets and offers a wide range of street foods including hotteok. Make sure to try these delicious treats while exploring Seoul’s vibrant street food scene!
Fried Chicken – Crispy and Juicy Delight
Fried chicken, a beloved dish in South Korea, is a crispy and juicy delight that has gained significant popularity worldwide. This Korean version of the classic American dish is prepared with unique cooking techniques and flavorful seasoning that sets it apart from other fried chicken varieties. The chicken is marinated for several hours in buttermilk or soy sauce to ensure maximum flavor absorption before being coated with a mixture of flour, cornstarch, and various spices.
Regional variations also add to the diversity of this mouth-watering delicacy. In Seoul, Yangnyeom fried chicken reigns supreme – crispy pieces of chicken are coated in a sweet and spicy sauce made with gochujang (Korean chili paste), honey, and garlic. Busan’s specialty is Dakgangjeong – boneless chunks of chicken deep-fried twice for an extra crunchy texture before being glazed in syrupy soy sauce-based marinade. Whether enjoyed as a snack or part of a meal, Korean fried chicken offers something unique to savor for all food lovers out there!
Bingsu – Shaved Ice Desserts with Various Toppings
The shaved ice desserts known as bingsu, with their colorful array of toppings and refreshing texture, are a quintessential summer treat that one might compare to the sensation of frostbite on a sweltering day. The dessert typically consists of shaved ice topped with sweetened condensed milk and various ingredients such as fruits, nuts, chocolate, or even cereal. There are endless varieties and flavors of bingsu to choose from in Seoul, catering to different tastes and preferences.
One popular place to try bingsu is at Sulbing Korean Dessert Cafe, which has multiple locations throughout the city. Their signature dish is the Injeolmi Bingsu, made with roasted soybean powder and glutinous rice cake. Another must-try spot is BeansBins Coffee, which offers unique flavors like green tea red bean bingsu and black sesame bingsu. Whether you’re looking for traditional or modern twists on this classic dessert, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to indulging in bingsu in Seoul.
Gyeran-ppang – Egg Bread with a Twist
After indulging in the sweet and refreshing bingsu, it’s time to satisfy your savory cravings with another popular street food in Seoul – gyeran-ppang. This unique twist on classic bread is a must-try for any food lover exploring South Korea.
Gyeran-ppang is essentially a fluffy bread stuffed with a whole egg inside. The egg yolk remains runny while the white is cooked to perfection, creating a delicious contrast of textures and flavors. What makes this dish truly special are the various variations that have been created over time. Some vendors add cheese or bacon for an extra kick, while others use black sesame seeds or pumpkin seeds as toppings. The history of gyeran-ppang can be traced back to the Joseon Dynasty, where it was originally made by royal chefs for the king and his courtiers. Today, it has become a beloved street food that can be found all over Seoul. So why not give it a try and see what all the fuss is about?
The street food in Seoul, South Korea is a delightful gastronomical experience. From the spicy tteokbokki to the savory jajangmyeon, there is something for every palate. The kimbap and hotteok are perfect for those looking for a quick snack, while the fried chicken and bingsu offer more substantial options. The gyeran-ppang is an interesting twist on traditional egg bread.
Despite the abundance of delicious street food in Seoul, some may argue that it is not always healthy or hygienic. While it’s true that some vendors may not meet strict health standards, many others take pride in their clean and fresh ingredients. And let’s be honest, indulging in some tasty treats once in a while won’t do any harm.
In conclusion, exploring the street food scene in Seoul can be an exciting adventure for anyone who loves good food. From mouth-watering snacks to full meals and desserts, there’s something to satisfy all cravings. And while concerns about hygiene should be considered, don’t let them deter you from experiencing this unique culinary journey. So go ahead and indulge your taste buds with some of the best street food South Korea has to offer!