Seoul is one of the most dynamic and exciting cities in Asia to visit. For the food lovers, the variety of delicious food is endless. Whether it’s fried, steamed, boiled, or grilled, Korean food promises a fresh flavor with a kick of spice and some asian savory goodness. When I hear my stomach grumble, I find myself thinking of the the endless array of street food in Myeongdong Shopping Street.
Korean restaurants are great to go to as well, as they’ll surprise you with all the small side platters that is accompanied by your order. However, there is an instant gratification that comes with sampling delicious bite sized snacks that’s made right before your eyes from the street food vendors.
Here are some of my small eat favorites that satisfied my Korean street food curiosities:
One of the most popular and beloved spicy on the go snacks you’ll find in South Korea. Tteokbokki is made up of thinly sliced rice cakes drowning in sweet, chili lava (like molten hot)! It’s very chewy, unless you’re biting a different texture, which in that case, would be fish cake or hard boiled eggs. I would advise not to wear a white shirt when eating this, unless you’re an expert at using toothpicks as a utensil!
Whether it be Winter or Spring, I always enjoy the sweet smell of freshly roasted chestnuts. It’s naturally sweet, flavorful, and a bag of this would keep your hands warm in the Winter time. It’s also rich in vitamin c and calcium as well! Ready to eat, and easy to peel, it’s not only a typical street snack you’ll find in South Korea, but also in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and different parts of Europe.
Hwaeori-gamja, meaning potato tornado, is a deep-fried spiral cut potato swirled around a stick. It not only looks cool, it also keeps your fingers from getting greasy. Fresh from the fryer as well so that it stays crispy and hot! There’s also some awesome seasonings that goes on it such as: sour cream and onion, curry spicy, and bbq. A much better upgrade from your regular french fries with ketchup! If you’re easily amused as I am, lookout for the potato tornado wrapped around a hot dog as a popular snack too. You’ll never look at an American hot dog w/ fries again.
Mayak Gimbap is like Korean narcotic sushi. Mayak translates to narcotic drugs, but it’s not what you think. It’s just a popular dish that Koreans are addicted to. You’ll find people waiting in line ordering dozens to take home to share with their friends and family! What makes gimbap different from sushi is that the meat is cooked, and there’s no raw fish in it. You’ll typically find ham, anchovies, pork, tuna as the filling, mixed with some veggies, like carrots, daikon, cucumbers and kimchi. Moreover, the rice is mixed with sesame seeds and sesame oil instead of rice vinegar. It gets me wondering now….which was created first: Gimbap or Sushi?
Like kimchi, but not quite, squid is all the rage for Koreans and I kind of think they can’t live months without it. They even eat it as a bar snack that supposedly goes perfectly well with cold beer. Dried or fried, Ojingeo Twigim is something that you can’t miss on the street…because of the smell….and also because it’s presented as a giant fried squid lollipop or boquet. I stuffed my face with street food for a a good few days in Seoul, yet the fried squid was still bigger than my face. If I had to choose between fried chicken knuckles in China or king sized squid in Seoul as a bar snack to go with my beer, I would pick this one.
There are so many food vendors catering to every palate and pocket on Myeongdong Shopping street. If you ever find yourself in Seoul, consider exploring this adventurous foodie heaven, best enjoyed on the streets!