Riding on the recent wave of Korean culture into Singapore, numerous Korean restaurants have popped up all over the island, boasting ‘authentic Korean cuisine’ and ‘all-you-can-eat Korean Barbecue Buffets”. I believe all of us have had our fill of barbecued meat by now – but what about the glorious street food that are the true embodiment of Korea? These delicious snacks have long been mastered to perfection by ahjummas that are experts at the street food game.

I’m sure all of us have drooled over the tantalizing sticks of fishcakes (or the devastatingly handsome Korean actors) documented in our favourite k-dramas.

Boys Over Flowers Goo Jun Pyo eating odengImage credit: koreakoreans.blogspot.sg

If you’re lucky enough to be heading to Korea for a holiday, be sure to ration your tummy-space well. The mind-boggling number of street food surrounding you as you stroll around the streets of Myeongdong and Insadong will make you regret all the bibimbap you ate previously!

Korea Seoul Street FoodImage credit: upload.wikimedia.org

Let’s not waste anymore time and let the pictures speak for themselves – get ready to be transported to the bustling streets of Seoul and prepare to rub shoulders with locals at stalls while feasting on these s(e)oul food… Just try not to lick your screen while you’re at it!

1. Spicy Rice Cakes/Tteok Bokki (떡볶이) Tteok Bokki

Definitely, this is the #1 street food in Korea –just like how Singapore is famous for its iconic laksa, Korea is famous for its Tteok Bokki! No matter which corner you turn in Myeongdong, these bright red rice cakes smouldering like molten lava never fail to pop up.

The bright red sauce that Tteok Bokki is drowned in is called ‘gochujang’, and is made of fermented soybeans and red chili. Tteok Bokki is a perfect snack to eat in winter, with the steaming rice cakes offering a comforting respite from the unbearable cold. Don’t worry, these rice cakes look deceptively spicier than they actually are – so go ahead and give this quintessential Korean snack a try!

2. Fried Rice Cakes/Tteok Kkochi (떡꼬치)

Tteok Kochi Fried Rice Cakes Image credit: upload.wikimedia.org

For those who are not equipped with tolerance to chili, Tteok Kkochi is the perfect alternative to its spicier counterpart, Tteok Bokki. Tteok Kkochi is a fried version of traditional Korean rice cakes and is stacked onto a stick for convenience. These mouthwatering snacks are crispy on the outside and incredibly chewy on the inside, and are coated in gochujang and ketchup for the ultimate treat!

3. Korean Fish Cake/Odeng (오뎅)

Odeng is rumoured to cure hangovers – so go ahead and give them a try if you find yourself with a splitting headache after one too many beers or soju! The fishcakes are skewered and stewed in pots of hot broth, which is free with any order. Odeng is probably the cheapest street food you will be able to find, so hesitate no more and help yourself to seconds or thirds! These satisfying sticks of fishcake and piping hot broth will never fail to keep you toasty warm in the frosty winters.


 

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4. Sweet Korean Pancakes/Hotteok (호떡)

Sunflower Seed Hotteok Korea PancakesImage credit: pixabay.com

These are often referred to as the ‘Korean doughnut’, and are typically filled with brown sugar.  When you first sink your teeth into these plump golden brown pancakes, the caramelized sugar oozes out in a gooey-like consistency that instantly satisfies your sweet tooth. Sure, you might burn your tongue while doing so – but who would be able to resist the temptation of these sweet treats when they’re right in front of you? I, for sure wouldn’t be able to!

Japchae-Hotteok is now sold in Hongdae, which is essentially the same golden brown pancakes filled with sweet potato noodles. Prepare to experience the traditional taste of Korea in every bite of this hearty Hotteok!

Japchae Hotteok Korea PancakesImage credit: pixabay.com

5. Korean-Style Tempura/Twigim (튀김)

Korean Style Tempura TwigimImage credit: travelivalda.wordpress.com

Crispy, greasy and sinfully satisfying all in one, Twigim is the equivalent of the Japanese Tempura that we have all come to love. Sweet potatoes, prawns, squids, an array of vegetables and even boiled eggs are coated generously in batter and are deep-fried in boiling hot oil for a sinful treat.

6. Tornado Potato/Hweori Gamja (회오리감자)

Tornado Potato Hweori Gamja

These swirly potato sticks are a hybrid between potato chips and french fries and have probably popped up all over your Instagram feed by now. Made with a specialized slicer and deep fried until crunchy, these Tornado Potato sticks can easily be found in the bustling district of Myeongdong. By now, you’ve probably figured out that Korean street food is unforgiving on the waistline – so, our advice is to not spare much thought about your calorie intake. After all, ignorance is bliss!

7. Strawberry Mochi/Ddalgi Mochi (딸기 떡)

Strawberry Mochi Ddalgi Mochi Image credit: gotrazy.wordpress.com

Sure, these might look ordinary from the outside; but haven’t we always been taught to never judge a book by its cover? Cut these floured rice balls open and you’re in for a treat!

The incredibly chewy rice balls are filled with huge Korean strawberries and red bean paste, and often call for snaking long queues. So, you’ll want to get your hands on a box of these before they run out – believe me when I say they’re terribly addictive and you’ll devour them in no time.

8. Stuffed Blood Sausages/Soondae (순대)

Soondae Blood SausageImage credit: flickr.com | Chun Yip So

Crimson red and oblong-shaped, Soondae seems like something straight out of Fear Factor. While these blood sausages might not be for the faint-hearted, they are still a must-try street snack.

Soondae is basically glutinous rice or glass noodles stuffed in pig intestines, and is usually served with steamed liver or lungs. For those that are able to overcome the ickiness of this unorthodox snack, you might find yourself addicted to its chewiness (and even the taste of pig blood!)

9. Egg Bread/Gyeran-Bbang (계란빵)

Egg Bread Gyeran-Bbang Image credit: psto.tistory.com

These adorable muffin-shaped bread are topped with an egg and grated parsley, making it the perfect option for breakfast on-the-go. Be sure to watch your cholesterol when you consume these comfortingly dense and chewy bread – it’s extremely easy to lose track of how many you’ve had, especially when the egg yolk is cooked to perfection and instantly bursts into a delicious runny goodness upon your first bite. Mmmm.

10. Korean Rice Rolls/Kimbap (김밥)

Kimbap Korean Rice Rolls Image credit: thoughtsofatravellingteacher.wordpress.com

Don’t these look like the exact replica of our favourite sushi? Well, Kimbap is essentially the Korean take on sushi, where the rice (bap) is seasoned with sesame oil and rolled in dried seaweed together with fillings such as pickled radish, eggs, beef and spam. Kimbap sold on the streets are typically pre-made and wrapped in plastic sheets to preserve the freshness of the rolls.

11. Mungbean Pancakes/Bindaetteok (빈대떡)

Mungbean Pancakes Bindaetteok

These crispy and fluffy pancakes are made from ground mungbeans with bean sprouts, green onion, kimchi and pepper. Bindaetteok is typically fried upon order for a piping hot golden pancake and served with home-made dipping sauce, which consists of vinegar, soy sauce and pickled onions. Be sure to check out Gwangjang Market for their famed Bindaetteok!

12. Sugar Lollipop/Bbopkki (뽑기)

Sugar Lollipop Bbopkki

Bbopkki is a traditional Korean candy with imprinted shapes made from melted sugar and baking soda, and can be found in the streets of Myeongdong. Here’s the catch: if you are able to chew around the candy to pry out those imprinted shapes without a single crack, you are entitled to another free Bbopkki!

Who’s up for the challenge? You bet I am!

13. Korean Dumplings/Mandu (만두)

Korean Dumplings Mandu Image credit: thoughtsofatravellingteacher.wordpress.com

These glorious dumplings are usually fried, boiled or steamed, and then stuffed with pork and spring onions. Kimchi Mandu is one of the more popular options, where the orange dumplings are stuffed to the brim with onions, minced pork and kimchi. Regardless of whether they are fried, boiled, or steamed, you’re guaranteed to be back for more, especially when served with the addictive vinegar dipping sauce on the side.

14. Goldfish Bread/Boong Uh Bbang (붕어빵)

Goldfish Bread Boong Uh Bbang Image credit: ashfoodbaby.blogspot.com

Goldfish Bread Boong Uh Bbang Red Bean Filling Image credit: jejuqueen.tistory.com

Have you realised that the Koreans like their snacks in the shape of fishes? Well, whatever the reason, these delicious goldfish-shaped breads have been around for decades and have earned a special spot in the hearts of Koreans as ‘the childhood snack’ . The traditional goldfish snacks are filled with sweetened red bean paste while the modernized versions usually consist of a humongous scoop of ice cream and rainbow sprinkles in the mouth of the goldfish.

Goldfish Bread Boong Uh Bbang ice creamImage credit: issuetracker.tistory.com

15. 32cm Tall Ice Cream

32cm ice cream KoreaImage credit: sohzhauwan.wordpress.com

Despite the freezing cold of Korean winters, this remains an extremely popular street snack – and it’s not hard to see why. With the towering 32cm ice cream, you’re guaranteed to get your fill of dessert (and Instagram-worthy shots), because one scoop of ice cream is never enough! These come in a multitude of flavours, such as Vanilla, Green Tea, Chocolate, Strawberry, Mango, Cherry and Blueberry; prepare to let your indecisiveness take charge as you hem and haw over what flavours to choose for that perfect swirl.

16. French Fry-Covered Hot Dogs/ Gamja Hot Dog (감자핫도그)

Gamja Hot Dog with KetchupImage credit: upload.wikimedia.org

As illustrated by all the aforementioned snacks, Koreans do take it to the next level when it comes to street food – and these Gamja Hot Dogs only act as proof of that statement. These are probably one of the most sinful street snacks, what with all the fried potatoes and cholesterol-inducing hot dogs. Slather these in ketchup and be transported to food heaven immediately.

17. Bite-Sized Fried Chicken/Dak Gang Jung (닭강정)

bite sized fried chicken in a cupImage credit: screamfmlondon.wordpress.com

With the recent Korean wave into Singapore, Dak Gang Jung has become increasingly popular amongst Singaporeans, especially when paired with maekju (beer). However, certainly nothing can beat the authentic ones sold along the streets of Seoul. These boneless bite-sized chicken are fried twice for the unmistakable crisp, and are then doused generously in spicy honey sauces.

18. Grilled Chicken Stick/Dak Kko Chi (닭꼬치)

grilled chicken stick with green peppersImage credit: gomsal.tistory.com

Dak Kko Chi is basically tender chicken grilled to perfection and threaded onto a stick along with onions and green peppers. The juicy chicken meat is basted with either barbecue or Gochujang sauce for a quick bite on-the-go!

19. Grilled Octopus Stick/Muneo Kkochi (문어꼬치)

Grilled Octopus StickImage credit: kukury0329.tistory.com

These tasty sticks of octopus are first dried, then grilled for crispiness, after which they are topped generously with mayonnaise, teriyaki sauce and bonito flakes. Think of it as a healthier version of Takoyaki, without all that fried flour batter encasing the grilled octopus!

20. Fried Squid/ Ozzang (오짱)

Fried Whole Squid Ozzang ExpressImage credit: koreantemptations.tumblr.com

Believe me when I say that no one does deep-frying as well as the Koreans do – just let this gorgeous squid lollipop speak for itself. An entire squid is deep-fried in boiling hot oil and then topped with chili, onions or cheese according to your own personal preference. These unique treats can easily be found at Ozzang Express located in Hongdae, but be prepared to wait for this highly popular snack!

21. Silkworm Pupae/Beondegi (번데기)

Silkworm Pupae Beondegi KoreaImage credit: flickr.com | Charles Haynes

Put your sense of smell to the test as you let your nose lead you to the nearest stall selling these Silkworm pupae – these nauseating snacks are known to emit a rather putrid odour. If you’re looking to truly immerse yourself in the culture of Korea, you have to give these snacks a try (even if it means pinching your nose and squeezing your eyes shut while doing it).

22. Walnut Cakes/Hodugwaja (호두 과자)

Walnut Cakes HodugwajaImage credit: zenonfitelberg.blogspot.sg

These adorable walnut-shaped cakes are filled with good ol’ brain food (walnuts) and red beans. These walnut cakes are one Korean street food you can feel good munching on – they are packed with a bunch of protein!

23. Dragon Beard Candy/Kkultarae (꿀타래)

Dragon Beard Candy KkultaraeImage credit: upload.wikimedia.org

Stalls selling Dragon Beard Candy often draw the attention of many children and tourists, as the vendors show off their expertise by taking a block of honey and stretching it into 16,000 strings, all while singing a chant. These unique candies were originally made for the consumption by the royalty only, especially since such skill is required to make these candies!

24. Grilled Corn (찰옥수수)

Grilled Corn on a Cob KoreaImage credit: pixabay.com

 These corn cobs are yet another street food you won’t feel guilty snacking on – these are grilled on the open coals until they are golden brown and slightly charred at the edges, then drizzled with honey or sprinkled with salt according to your own personal preference. Feast away, fellow foodies!

25. Colourful Cotton Candy/Somsatang (솜사탕)

Colourful Cotton Candy Flowers Somsatang Colourful Cotton Candy Ducks SomsatangImage credit: instagram.com | @art_cotton_candy

Koreans slay the street food game once again with their vibrantly-coloured cotton candy – and they take it to the extreme with their super-sized ones. For the record, these are bigger than the size of a human head, and are crafted into shapes like ducks and flowers. This is definitely not the typical cotton candy you’ll find at the amusement park, so seize the opportunity and get your hands on one (or two)! This thin, wispy sugary goodness will send you straight to heaven on a bedding of cotton candy clouds.

That sums up the list of must-try Seoul street food – were you able to resist licking your screen? Don’t worry if you succumbed to temptation; I did while writing this too.  To get a taste of these glorious food for the Seoul and immerse yourself in the vibrant Korean culture, you will definitely want to head there and experience it for yourself!

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