For travelers and tourists alike food has always been a large part of the travel experience, with great food being a huge draw to many, whether they stick to restaurants or adventurously explore the local street food. While in Korea we tried food in local neighborhood restaurants, as well as some in more touristy areas, along with occasional mall restaurants and cafeterias, plus of course lots of the ubiquitous coffee shops and cafes. We only ate in a couple of higher end restaurants because we discovered so many excellent meals in the low to middle price range. One of our favorite places to eat, however, was the street.
Korea has some of the most amazing street food of anywhere I’ve ever been, (about 36 countries so far). The sheer number of choices is both amazing and somewhat daunting. There are certain staples that you’ll find everywhere, like tteokbokki or odeng, particularly clustered along popular streets and near subway exits, but take a peek and you will often find that different foods are more popular in some areas than in others, and that yet other dishes are native only to certain districts or neighborhoods.
Different locations around the country have their own regional specialties too, for example all the different foods made with the citrus locally grown on Jeju Island. The ‘hallabong’, a sweet and seedless variety of mandarin orange, is particularly famous but other types of citrus are also popular.
These little ‘dol hareubang’ pastries replicating the ‘stone men’ of Jeju Island, are filled with a very yummy citrus cream.
There are so many different types of little piping hot sweet stuffed pastries in Korea that it would be difficult to track them all down. Some of the best have red been paste or custard cream fillings. They are also quite cheap with 5 for a dollar or two, depending on how large they are and how touristy the area. And if you’re really polite to the vendor you might get an extra one thrown in for ‘service’.
One of the must not miss breakfast snacks is Gyeran ppang or egg bread. It can come in slightly different shapes and sometimes with extras, like tomato sauce squeezed inside, but all are delicious. Although it would seem like it should be savory it has a nice balance of sweetness too. Served piping hot in a little cardboard sleeve it is amazingly good on a cold crisp morning. You’ll often see people clustered around the Gyeran ppang street stalls in cooler weather.
This particular lady also had piping hot sweet potatoes too, which help fill you up on a cold morning.
Strolling down many of the pedestrian streets you will find street food stalls lining the way. This one is selling fish cakes, as well as rice cakes, and sausage, all served on skewers for convenience.
Korean street food also encompasses a wide range of almost familiar food, in that Koreans often take a basic food and add a Korean twist to it. This stall in Hongdae had the best sweet potato fries and fried chicken served in a cone.
And then there were waffles for dessert. These were absolutely delicious, if somewhat tricky to eat without getting cream everywhere. But maybe that’s the point, as a lead in to Kdarama style ‘cream kisses’ for date night.
All this writing about food has got me super nostalgic and extremely hungry, so I’m going to go eat. Have a great day everyone and I’ll write a part 2 about some more of the best street food in the world.
Please do not copy or use without permission and accreditation. Photo credits to Elle Marzec.