Korea – Korean Street Food in Korea

Country: Korea
Cuisine: Korean/Street food
Last visited: April 3-5, 2010
Location: Seoul, City Centre (Myeong Dong)
Address: n/a
Price Range: $10 or less

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Welcome to the 1st Follow Me Foodie post in Korea! Whether or not you’re planning to travel to Korea I’m here to show you why you should plan to visit Korea. Foodie or not there’s something for everyone to enjoy. From traditional Korean street food to Korean fusion street food I have the highlights here!

What better way to start my culinary adventure in Korea than by hitting up their local street food. Every city has their own and more often than not it’s pretty damn good and cheap.

In Vancouver it’s hot dogs and we don’t really get more creative than that… well I guess there’s the Japadog. In Korea there’s a ton and it gets pretty multi-cultural. Literally every street corner there’s someone selling something edible which made it even hard on me and my tummy. I wanted to try it all!

I’m not sure what all the names of the items are, but I’m calling them as I see fit.

Also see my post on Chinese Street Food in China

On the street:

Korean Chicken Donairs n/a

  • Wait… I thought I was in Korea? Not Turkey! Yup – this is Korean Shawarmas/Donairs. Freaking sweet!
  • I didn’t get to try them because I was on my way to dinner and it was the last stand we passed.
  • I really really want to go back to try these, but I have too many other things I want to try as well that might get in the way.
  • It’s not traditional Korean food, but a fusion thing.

  • I saw this before I saw the rotisserie grill so I initially thought they were Korean tacos. Korean tacos are super popular in LA and I wanted to try them when I was there but I missed it. I thought that’s what these were until I saw the rotisserie chicken.
  • They serve it like a donair and top it with lettuce and what looked like ketchup, mustard, and hot Korean chili sauce.

Korean Beard Papa’s Cream Puffsn/a

  • Beard Papa’s Cream Puffs – but it’s the Korean version.
  • The puffs are double in size – they’re freakin huge!
  • I didn’t try this one either because I figured it was quite similar to Beard Papa’s in Vancouver.

Korean Sausages 3/6

  • So Koreans love sausages because I saw numerous sausage stands.
  • They have all different types: sausage stuffed with rice cakes, regular sausage, Teriyaki sausage, cheese sausage, sausage wrapped in seaweed, bacon wrapped sausage, deep fried sausage – almost anything you can think of you can find it here.

Korean sausage stuffed with rice cake4/6

  • I tried the sausage stuffed with rice cake. It was also drizzled with mustard and ketchup. It was good!
  • The sausage is a bit drier and then you have the chewy rice cake inside. I liked it!
  • I tried a regular sausage as well – which was regular. I wouldn’t have chose it but I didn’t have a choice. It was a 2 for 1 “cook’s choice” deal. I mean it was juicy but something I can eat in Vancouver.
  • The reason I’m not eating it on the street is because I brought it inside a cafe we went to later.

Buttered Squid6/6

  • This is the really traditional and authentic Korean street food. What the locals eat and grow up with.
  • It’s buttered squid and it’s absolutely delicious.
  • The give you 2 bags – the first with the legs and the second with the body. They’re both dried and then the lady griddles it in butter before serving it. Awesome!
  • It’s almost like jerky. It’s fishy tasting, chewy, a little soft from the melted butter, sweet and also salty. I liked the squid body better. The squid legs are a bit too tough.

  • She also serves a variety of squid and octopus chips etc. They love squid in Korea!

Korean Sugar Cookies/Crisps1/6

  • I tried this and it was my least favourite of everything I tried.
  • It’s pretty much a Korean version of a sugar cookie or crisp. It’s very thin and brittle.
  • The lady just melts pure sugar and water and pours it into a mold. She cooks it on a hot griddle until it caramelizes and hardens. Lastly she engraves a heart shaped stamp or star on it just before it completely cools and hardens.
  • It was boring for me and just pure sugar and too sweet. It tastes like honeycomb.

Korean Pancakes and Rice Cakesn/a

  • I had a couple home cooked Korean pancakes and home cooked Korean rice cakes the night before so I just passed on these.
  • These are the best home cooked anyways.

Korean BBQ Chicken Skewers3/6

  • These were white meat chicken which was surprising because Asians like dark meat. These were really saucy and sweet.
  • They were spinning on the BBQ for a long time so they were probably dry but I couldn’t tell because they were covered with sauce.
  • Half was covered with a sweet honey like sauce and the other half was coated in a spicy and sweet Korean chili sauce.
  • The chicken skewer is drizzled with mayo and mustard before serving – it’s pretty much chicken and packaged sauce… a lot of it!
  • It’s about $1.50 for a stick.

Korean Dragon’s Beard Candy 3/6

  • I have to start off by saying these are originally a traditional Chinese dessert. This is the Korean version.
  • These are very new to Korea and they’re becoming super famous here. All the Korean celebrities are eating them so it’s an “in” thing and popular food trend. My Korean friends had never seen until now and they didn’t even know the Chinese version existed CENTURIES ago.
  • The Chinese version is much better except the Korean ones have more flavours.

  • It comes in peanut, almond, or walnut and walnut is most popular. The traditional Chinese one only comes in peanut.
  • It’s basically Asian style cotton candy except rather than using a machine to spin the sugar they use their hands to pull the sugar… with gloves.
  • It’s balls of cotton candy stuffed with (in this case) walnut crumbs mixed with sugar.
  • The reason why these ones aren’t as good as the Chinese ones is because they’re not as soft or delicate or chewy. They harden really fast and get stuck to your teeth. The Chinese ones can be found at the Richmond Night Market and melt in your mouth. See my details regarding the Chinese Dragon Beard’s Candy here: Chinese Night Market in Richmond

Turkish Ice Cream6/6

  • I know it’s not Korean, but it was one of my favourites!!! SOOO GOOD! It was Turkish Ice Cream!
  • It’s relatively new to the Korean street food scene. Apparently the last few years there’s been an increase of Turkish immigration. I have no idea why. But anyways they introduced Koreans to Turkish ice cream.
  • It tastes just like regular ice cream but it’s super chewy!
  • I have no idea how he did it but he scoops the whole ice cream out of the bucket and makes a show out of it… like the eggball guy at the Chinese Night Market in Richmond.
  • Oh and this guy spoke fluent Korean. Impressed me in 2 ways!

  • Yeah I wish you get the whole scoop but you don’t. He does this part as a tease and for show.
  • It’s a super stretchy ice cream and it’s almost like play dough.
  • There’s chocolate and vanilla and you get a combination of both and a regular sized scoop in the end.
  • This was $3.

29 Comments

  • KimHo says:

    Drool…. Great pictures!

    It is quite funny that, in that search of competitive advantage, they look for uniqueness outside of what they produce internally. Like, in the case of Vancouver, that of something Japanese in Japadog or, in the case of Korea, all these Middle Eastern goods. I won’t have tried the shawarma myself, after all, I think we have some decent places here…

    Oh, I have heard about that “ice cream” before. I think it is called dondurma, dodurma or something on those lines. Rather than using a custard and chilling and churning it, some form of resin is added to the mix which gives its elasticity (and, as a secondary effect, it does not melt as easily). Well, since you gave it a six, I will safely assume it is good!

    BTW, did people thought you were Korean the whole time? 😀

  • Aimee says:

    You should try Soondae. It is a traditional Korean blood sausage that is sold at street stalls. There are numerous types of Soondae, but they are all delicious! Check out Dong Dae Moon’s food stall galore which is located at Dong Dae Moon! You can find numerous types of food but its a bit pricey.

  • Jessica says:

    That ice cream looks divine. 🙂 Is it like the melona dessert bars?
    I love street food – it can go both ways: traditional, or trendy / pop culture. Looking forward to other Korean posts.

  • Mijune says:

    KimHo – I can easily pass for most types of Asian ethnicities…people are speaking either Korean, Japanese or Chinese to me. I speak English back and it throws them off 🙂 I love the Turkish ice cream!

    Aimee – Soondae sounds very interesting! I have one more day left in Korea so I will try to find that…I’ve tried so many things already and there’s still so much more!!

  • Sherman says:

    Nice overview Mijune! Makes me sad at the state of street food here in the GVRD. However, I can see how some of these items cannot be sold here on the street. LOL… I’d eat it though!

  • Mijon says:

    omg everything looks so delish — I want to try it all!!! That ice cream is insaaaaaaaaaane. yum

  • Mijon says:

    oh and great pics!

  • jenn c says:

    omg, the sugar crisps are one of my faves! can’t believe someone doesn’t like them!
    but then again i have a major sweet tooth…!

    by the way, did they tell you that if you are successfully able to “crack out” the shape without in one whole piece you get a prize, i.e. a free crisp? that’s what the heart in the middle is for 🙂 you’re supposed to use a toothpick and chip the outer “border” away. some of the shapes can be pretty tricky!

    mmmmm…buttered squid……. :d

    -jenn-

  • Mijune says:

    Oh really!? The sugar crisps just tasted like the burnt sugar on top of creme brulee lol….I just thought there would be more to it. Thanks for the info though…that’s super cute!! I don’t even think my Korean friends knew that and some of them and born and raised in Korea. I really appreciate the background though! Thank you!

  • Ryan's Mommy says:

    Gee…mystery ice cream?!?!? Actually, it’s called “Dondurma.” This got me all curious, so looked it up.

    According to Wiki, there are 2 additional ingredients used to make the ice cream “melt resistent” and sticky:

    1) Salep, a flour made from the root of the Early Purple Orchid,
    2) Mastic, a resin

    Apparently there is an export ban on the orchid as there has been a decline in the wild orchid.

    The name is also kinda wierd….apparently it may have root meaning = “testicles” ….k, that just left a really bad taste in mouth.

  • Jenny says:

    I didn’t see any Turkish ice cream when i was there. Now I wish I ate more street food when I was there. Don’t know if you are still there, there is a really good noodle soup called Myung Dong Kyoja in Myung Dong, it’s really good.

    Also, the BEST BBQ eel I had was also in Korea, somewhere around imjingak , sorry I don’t know the name

  • Mijune says:

    Ryan’s Mommy – Interesting facts about the ice cream! Thank you for that. It’s defnitely not your standard ice cream…very fun to eat though! I loved the chewiness.

    Jenny – Aww too bad I missed it! I’m in Hong Kong already….thanks for the tip though!

  • Veronica says:

    OMG!! Mijune…your pics of the Korean street food are awesome. I was looking at what the guy was holding up on the stick and was wondering what that was …then I read your commentary. Turkish ice cream…WOW! I want to try some too … they really look yummy.

  • Mijune says:

    Hi Veronica!! Thanks so much!!! Turkish ice cream was soooo unique…and funny that’s I’ve never heard or seen it anywhere else but Korea!! I had to try it!

  • timetochow says:

    meat on a stick, sausages stuffed with rice cakes, turkish ice cream, buttered squid all on the street.
    all things not available in vancouver 🙁
    hope you took lots of pics. really looking forward to read and view your experiences..

  • Mijune says:

    Timtochow: I HAVE SOOOOOOOO many pics right now!!!! I CAN’T WAIT to post them all!!!! WhenI’m back in Vancouver 😀 Thanks for commenting!

  • Kaybee says:

    The photos are pretty mouth watering for a person who has never tried Korean street food… I wonder if they have vegetarian stuffs selling on the street or I’ll be pretty sad passing those divine smelling stalls without trying a single dish. I am planning to go to Korea this fall.

  • Mijune says:

    Kaybee – I am so excited for you to visit Korea! I hope you can show the photos of the retaurants I went to hopefully people can help you figure our where they are b/c nothing is in English.

    They definitely have vegetarian stuff! The cylinder rice noodles/cakes in spicy tomato chili sauce, all the desserts, and the onion pancake will be vegetarian. (Pancake and rice cakes are in photo above)

  • anna says:

    that was so yummy..wish i could try all of those food.. i like the ice cream

  • Mijune says:

    @anna – LOVE the ice cream!!! 😀

  • Al says:

    A great blog that is really informative! The Korean Dragon’s Beard Candy is actually made with honey and is not really cotton candy! There is something like 16,000 strands of honey in each one.

  • Mijune says:

    @Al – Welcome! Thank you so much for the words! Yes, I know it’s not really cotton candy, but I call it “Asian style cotton candy” just so people will get an idea of what it’s similar too. But thank you for your extra tips and hope I was able to clarify what I meant to say 🙂

  • Talia says:

    Did you stumble across any fried dough thingies (very descriptive, I know…!) with either cheese or honey inside? We’ve just finished a few days in Korea, and they had heaps of them at this market. They were DELICIOUS, but I can not for the life of me find out what they are called!!

    Also, did you have a strawberry covered in chocolate with a layer of white pasty… something on the outside?

  • Baanguru says:

    I know that this post is not so new but the moment I stumbled on it I couldn’t help but comment because the information here and pictures are all useful and very informative. I haven’t been to Korea so this post is something I will bookmark for future reference. Anyway, if in case you want to know more about Thailand you can check out our blog here http://www.baanguru.com/en/blog

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