Street food in Seoul is a popular and integral part of the country’s food culture.
If you are planning a trip to Korea or just curious about the country’s food culture, you are in for a treat.
Korean street food is not only delicious but also a reflection of the country’s rich culinary history and diverse regional cuisines.
From savory snacks to sweet treats, there is something for everyone when it comes to street food in Seoul, so let’s dive in!
- What Is Street Food in Seoul Known For?
- Popular Street Food in Seoul to Try
- 1. Tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes)
- 2. Hotteok (sweet pancakes filled with cinnamon, brown sugar, and nuts)
- 3. Odeng (fish cake skewers)
- 4. Kimbap (rice rolls filled with vegetables, meat, and egg)
- 5. Japchae (Stir-fried Glass Noodles with Vegetables and Meat)
- 6. Sundae (Korean blood sausage)
- 7. Jajangmyeon (noodles in black bean sauce)
- 8. Twigim (deep-fried vegetables and seafood)
- 9. Eomuk (Fish Cake Soup)
- 10. Pajeon (Green Onion Pancake)
- 11. Dakkochi (Chicken Skewers)
- 12. Bungeoppang (fish-shaped pastry filled with sweet red bean paste)
- 13. Mandu (Korean dumplings)
- 14. Gyeran-ppang (egg bread)
- Street Food Locations in Seoul
- Tips for Eating Street Food in Seoul
- Street Food in Seoul: FAQs
- What are the must-try dishes at Gwangjang Market?
- What types of food can be found in Korean night markets?
- Which street foods are most popular in Korea?
- How much do street food dishes typically cost in Seoul?
- What aspects of Korean culture are reflected in street food?
- Where can I find the best street food in Seoul?
What Is Street Food in Seoul Known For?
Korean street food is famous for its strong flavors, vibrant presentation, and the use of fresh and locally sourced ingredients.
The most commonly found street food in Seoul include tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), kimbap (rice rolls), hotteok (sweet pancakes), mandu (dumplings), fried chicken, and a variety of skewered meats and vegetables.
Street food vendors can be found almost everywhere in the city, particularly in popular tourist destinations and markets.
Whether you are a food enthusiast or simply seeking a quick snack, trying out street food in Seoul is an essential experience during your trip.
Popular Street Food in Seoul to Try
When you’re in Seoul, bingeing on street food is an absolute must.
Here are a few popular Seoul street food dishes to get you started on your culinary adventure in Korea’s capital:
1. Tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes)
This snack is made of chewy rice cakes swimming in a spicy, sweet sauce. Bite into the soft texture of the rice cake and experience the fiery kick it offers.
You’ll find tteokbokki stalls all around Seoul, but Myeongdong and Sindangdong are particularly famous for this dish.
2. Hotteok (sweet pancakes filled with cinnamon, brown sugar, and nuts)
If you’re craving something sweet while tasting street food in Seoul, you’ve got to try hotteok.
These sweet, chewy pancakes are stuffed with a delicious mix of brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, and nuts.
The crispy edges and melty filling are perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth.
Head to any busy street market such as Namdaemun or Gwangjang, and you’ll see hotteok vendors serving fresh batches of this treat.
3. Odeng (fish cake skewers)
Also known as eomuk, odeng is a type of fishcake skewered on wooden sticks and cooked in a delicious broth.
It’s not just about the fishcake itself – the highlight is drinking the warm, savory broth from a cup after enjoying the skewer.
This street food can be found on almost every corner, perfect for warming you up during Seoul’s chilly months.
4. Kimbap (rice rolls filled with vegetables, meat, and egg)
You might think this looks like sushi, but kimbap is truly a Korean classic and an absolute must when trying out the street food in Seoul.
Your choice of vegetables, pickled radish, egg, and meat are rolled up in seasoned rice and seaweed.
Conveniently packaged in bite-sized pieces, it’s great for eating on-the-go.
You’ll have no problem finding kimbap at any street food market – it goes hand-in-hand with street food culture in Seoul.
5. Japchae (Stir-fried Glass Noodles with Vegetables and Meat)
Japchae is a beloved Korean street food dish consisting of stir-fried glass noodles with an assortment of vegetables and meat.
Though it began as a simple dish during the Joseon Dynasty in Korea, it has evolved into a flavorful and colorful dish enjoyed by people of all ages.
The main component of japchae is the glass noodles, made from sweet potato starch.
These noodles provide a unique, chewy texture that makes japchae stand out from other noodle dishes.
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6. Sundae (Korean blood sausage)
Sundae is a tasty street food favorite not just in Korea but in many parts of the world.
Made predominantly from pig’s blood and other ingredients, it has made its way from local markets to international food scenes.
The essential elements of Sundae are pig’s blood, glass noodles, and boiled intestines.
The process begins with the mixing of pig’s blood, glass noodles, and various seasonings.
This mixture is carefully stuffed into cleaned pig intestines, then steamed or boiled.
The result is a rich, flavorful sausage that can be enjoyed either hot or cold.
7. Jajangmyeon (noodles in black bean sauce)
Jajangmyeon is a popular street food in Seoul that originated from Chinese cuisine.
It features wheat noodles topped with a thick black bean sauce, often mixed with diced pork, vegetables, and sometimes seafood.
This dish has been embraced by Koreans who have adapted it to their own taste, making it a beloved staple for many.
The sauce, known as chunjang, is made by fermenting black soybeans. The final product is a rich, savory, and slightly sweet sauce that melds perfectly with the chewy noodles.
The base ingredients for the sauce usually include diced onions, zucchini, and cabbage, but variations can include other vegetables such as carrots or potatoes.
When ordering Jajangmyeon from a street vendor or a restaurant, customers can typically choose from a few different options. Some of the most common ones are:
- Standard Jajangmyeon: The classic version with noodles, black bean sauce, and vegetables
- Seafood Jajangmyeon: Featuring additional seafood like shrimp, squid, or mussels
- Gan Jajangmyeon: A drier version of the dish, with less sauce and more concentrated flavors
Jajangmyeon is often enjoyed with a side of pickled radish, which provides a refreshing contrast to the rich and savory flavors of the dish.
Also, many people like to accompany their Jajangmyeon with tangsuyuk, a crispy deep-fried pork dish that’s coated in a sweet and sour sauce.
8. Twigim (deep-fried vegetables and seafood)
Twigim is a popular and diverse Seoul street food that offers a tasty assortment of deep-fried vegetables and seafood.
The word “twigim” itself means “deep-fried,” making it an umbrella term for various fried delights. Some of the most common ingredients include zucchini, sweet potato, and shrimp.
They are all coated in a light tempura-like batter before being fried to a golden crisp.
Street vendors, known as pojangmacha, frequently sell twigim in bustling areas where people gravitate towards affordable and portable snacks.
In addition to being a popular snack, twigim is also a staple element in many traditional Korean meals, often served as a side dish or accompaniment to alcoholic beverages such as soju and makgeolli.
This connection to Korean drinking culture has earned twigim its nickname, “anju,” meaning “dish to go with alcoholic drinks.”
Twigim is typically served with a savory dipping sauce, which adds an extra layer of flavor to the crispy treats.
Soy sauce, vinegar, and gochujang (Korean red chili paste) are among the key ingredients in the sauce to provide a perfect balance between salty, sweet, and spicy.
The contrasting flavors harmonize beautifully with the crispy, golden-brown exterior and soft, tender interior of each bite.
9. Eomuk (Fish Cake Soup)
Eomuk, also known as fish cake soup, is a popular street food in Seoul.
This savory dish has a unique taste, as it combines fish paste with various vegetables.
Vendors can be spotted throughout Korean streets, whipping up delicious steaming bowls filled with the warm, comforting soup.
The main ingredient in Eomuk is fish paste, usually made from white fish such as pollock or cod.
The paste is combined with flour, salt, sugar, and other spices, then formed into flat, sheet-like cakes.
These fish cakes are then boiled in a light, savory, and slightly sweet broth, which typically contains dashi (a traditional Japanese broth), soy sauce, and sugar.
Additional ingredients like radish, spring onions, and hard-boiled eggs are often added to enhance the dish’s flavors and textures.
Eomuk can be enjoyed in various forms such as skewered, deep-fried, or stirred with rice cakes and vegetables. Here are some popular variations:
- Eomuk guk: The classic fish cake soup, served hot with thinly sliced eomuk pieces and garnished with green onions.
- Eomuk tang: A thicker, heartier version of eomuk guk with larger pieces of fish cake and various vegetables.
- Eomuk bokkeum: Stir-fried fish cakes mixed with vegetables and a spicy, sweet sauce.
In Seoul, Eomuk is not only considered a delicious street snack, but it is also believed to have various health benefits.
It’s high in protein, low in fat, and provides a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids.
10. Pajeon (Green Onion Pancake)
Pajeon is a popular street food in Seoul made from a simple batter of flour, water, and eggs, mixed with chopped green onions.
The batter is then fried in a pan, creating a crispy and savory pancake. Pajeon can be enjoyed as a delicious snack or as a satisfying meal that’s perfect for sharing.
Street food vendors and restaurants across Korea serve different varieties of pajeon, adding ingredients like seafood, kimchi, or vegetables.
Some common types of pajeon include haemul pajeon (seafood pancake) and kimchi pajeon (kimchi pancake).
Regardless of its ingredients, this flavorful and crowd-pleasing dish is best enjoyed with a dipping sauce made from soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar.
11. Dakkochi (Chicken Skewers)
Dakkochi, or Korean chicken skewers, is a popular street food found in many corners of Seoul.
Sold by street vendors and traditional food markets, it appeals to both tourists and locals alike.
The dish is made from tender chunks of chicken marinated in a flavorful mixture of soy sauce, garlic, sugar, and red pepper paste.
The marinade plays a crucial role in achieving the perfect balance of sweet, spicy, and savory flavors.
The marinated chicken pieces are then skewered onto wooden sticks and grilled to perfection over an open flame.
The result is a slightly charred and mouth-watering snack that is both convenient and delicious.
There are many different variations of dakkochi, with some vendors adding vegetables like green onion, pepper, and mushrooms to the skewers.
This not only adds a pop of color but also contributes an interesting texture and contrasting flavors to the dish.
Dakkochi can be found at traditional food markets, nighttime food festivals, and even sporting events.
12. Bungeoppang (fish-shaped pastry filled with sweet red bean paste)
The eye-catching fish-shaped pastry is filled with sweet red bean paste, making it a favorite among both locals and tourists.
The origin of Bungeoppang can be traced back to Japan, where a similar pastry called Taiyaki is enjoyed. The main difference between the two is the batter’s composition.
Bungeoppang often uses a waffle-like batter, resulting in a crispier texture, while Taiyaki has a more pancake-like consistency.
Bungeoppang comes in various flavors, although the classic red bean paste remains the most popular.
Some street vendors have introduced creative fillings such as chocolate, cream cheese, and even ice cream.
The fish-shaped pastry is not only a tasty snack but also a symbol of prosperity, making it a popular gift during special occasions.
13. Mandu (Korean dumplings)
Mandu are a popular street food in Seoul, known for their delicious taste and variety of fillings.
These Korean dumplings are typically made with a thin flour dough that is filled with ingredients such as pork, beef, vegetables, or tofu, and then folded into a crescent or round shape.
There are different types of Mandu, each with unique fillings and preparation methods. Some are steamed, offering a soft and tender texture, while others are fried for a crispy exterior.
Additionally, Mandu can be found in soups like Mandu-guk, a flavorful broth filled with these tasty dumplings.
14. Gyeran-ppang (egg bread)
Gyeran-ppang is a popular and delicious street food in Seoul that offers a perfect blend of taste and convenience.
It’s made by pouring a simple batter into special molds, adding an egg on top, and then baking the mixture until it’s golden and fluffy.
The aroma of Gyeran-ppang easily attracts passersby, and it’s not uncommon to see long queues of people waiting to get their hands on this tasty treat.
The bread is usually served warm, making it a wonderful snack on a chilly day.
Gyeran-ppang is typically enjoyed by people of all ages due to its delicious taste and affordability. It’s often eaten on-the-go, as the molded shape makes it easy to hold and eat without making a mess.
This street food can easily be found in many busy areas throughout Seoul, such as street markets, food trucks, and even some cafes or convenience stores.
Street Food Locations in Seoul
Street food in Seoul is known for its unique flavors and if you’re wondering where to find the best street food in Seoul, here are a few unmissable spots:
Myeongdong is a bustling shopping district that offers a wide variety of street food.
As you stroll through the lively streets, you’ll find numerous food carts and vendors offering mouth-watering treats such as:
- Tteokbokki: Spicy rice cakes served with a sweet and spicy sauce
- Odeng: Fishcake skewers served with a savory broth
- Hotteok: Sweet Korean pancakes filled with brown sugar, honey, and crushed nuts
Don’t forget to try the tornado potatoes or the deep-fried cheese lobster tails, which are some of the unique offerings in this area.
Located near Gyeongbok Palace, Insadong offers a more traditional experience when it comes to street food in Seoul.
This area is known for its teahouses, antique shops, and traditional art galleries. Some of the must-try street food options here include:
- Bindaetteok: Mung bean pancakes, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside
- Pajeon: Savory Korean-style pancakes with scallions and seafood
- Juk: Thick rice porridge with various toppings like red beans and pumpkin
Dongdaemun Food Street
Dongdaemun Food Street is located near one of Seoul’s most famous shopping districts.
It specializes in late-night street food, making it perfect for satisfying those late-night cravings.
Some popular dishes and snacks you’ll find here are:
- Dakgangjeong: Fried chicken chunks coated in a sweet and spicy sauce
- Kimbap: Rolled seaweed filled with rice and various ingredients like vegetables and egg
- Mandu: Korean-style dumplings filled with meat, vegetables, or kimchi
To experience Seoul’s street food culture to its fullest, be sure to attend one of the city’s popular pojangmacha – roadside tents that serve a variety of dishes and drinks late into the night.
Here, you can sample soju or makgeolli, traditional Korean alcoholic beverages, alongside a plate of pajeon, a savory Korean pancake packed with fresh seafood or vegetables.
Tips for Eating Street Food in Seoul
Here are some tips to make tasting street food in Seoul experience even better:
1. Explore the hotspots: Some of the best places to find street food in Seoul are Myeongdong, Hongdae, and Gwangjang Market.
Don’t shy away from wandering around these areas, trying out different stalls, and comparing the tastes and flavors.
2. Keep an open mind: Be adventurous with your choices.
Seoul’s street food offers a wide variety of unique dishes like tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), hotteok (sweet pancakes), and odeng (fish cakes).
You never know, you might just find your new favorite dish!
3. Cash is king: Make sure to have cash in smaller denominations, as many street food vendors don’t accept credit cards.
4. Hygiene is important: Look for stalls that seem clean and well-maintained.
You’ll want to enjoy your food without worrying about potential health issues.
5. Learn some basic phrases: Knowing a few Korean phrases can make your street food adventure smoother.
For example, “Eolmayeyo?” (How much is it?) and “Mashisseoyo!” (It’s delicious!) can come in handy.
Street Food in Seoul: FAQs
What are the must-try dishes at Gwangjang Market?
At Gwangjang Market, you should definitely try Bindaetteok (mung bean pancake), Mayak Kimbap (addictive mini rice rolls), and Tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes).
Don’t forget to taste the famous Sannakji (live octopus) if you’re feeling adventurous!
What types of food can be found in Korean night markets?
Korean night markets offer a wide variety of food options. You will find dishes like Tteokbokki, Kimbap, Hotteok (sweet pancakes), Odeng (fishcake skewers), and Mandu (Korean dumplings).
Additionally, you can enjoy different types of traditional Korean street food, snacks, and desserts.
Which street foods are most popular in Korea?
Some of the most popular street foods in Korea are Tteokbokki, Kimbap, Hotteok, Odeng, Mandu, Twigim (deep-fried snacks), and Bungeoppang (fish-shaped bread).
The options are endless, so don’t hesitate to explore and try new dishes too.
How much do street food dishes typically cost in Seoul?
Street food dishes in Seoul are generally affordable, with prices ranging from 1,000 to 5,000 KRW.
Snacks and smaller bites may cost as low as 1,000 KRW, while more substantial dishes or popular items could be around 3,000-5,000 KRW.
What aspects of Korean culture are reflected in street food?
Korean street food reflects the nation’s rich culinary heritage, emphasizing bold and diverse flavors.
Many dishes are made with staple ingredients like rice, fishcakes, and gochujang (red pepper paste).
Street food vendors also often serve dishes in paper cups or ecofriendly containers, showcasing a commitment to sustainability.
Where can I find the best street food in Seoul?
Some of the best street food spots in Seoul include Myeongdong, Hongdae, Gwangjang Market, and Namdaemun Market.
Each location boasts a unique atmosphere and different offerings, so be sure to explore a few areas in order to experience the full range of Seoul’s vibrant street food scene.