Wanna treat yourself to some affordable but incredibly delicious Korean food? Well, today, we’ll talk about mouth-watering Korean street food 분식 (bunsik).
In South Korea, delicious food isn’t always found in nice restaurants. In fact, you don’t even have to empty your pockets just to satisfy your taste buds because there are lots of Korean street vendors and food stalls in the streets.
Traveling to South Korea will never be complete without tasting their Korean street food. What makes Korean street food so good is that they are incredibly delicious and can be easily found everywhere, like subway stations and street stalls. Eating Korean street food will not just satisfy your cravings, but you can also experience the authentic Korean culture because you’ll be actually eating as the locals do.
So today, take a break from the fancy Korean cuisine and enjoy the best Korean street food.
What Is A Popular Korean Street Food?
Korean street food (분식 bunsik) is a type of food sold by street food vendors in public locations for speedy consumption. It is absolutely loved by everyone for its affordable price and delicious taste, so you shouldn’t miss it, especially while walking in Myeongdong. But you will see it everywhere in Korea!
There’s a lot of appetizing and inexpensive Korean street food in Seoul, the capital city of South Korea. If you’re looking for a wonderful Korean street food experience, you can visit the following places:
- Gwangjang Market
- Myeongdong Street Food Alley
- Seoul Bamdokkaebi Night Market
- Tongin Market
- Namdaemun Market
- Sindang-dong Tteokbokki Town
- Dongdaemun Night Market
- Common Ground
Korean street foods are the type of food that you can never resist, so let’s now dive into this list of Korean street foods that you can try when you visit South Korea.
English Translation: Spicy Rice Cakes
Modern Korean dramas never fail to expose this famous street food – tteokbokki or spicy rice cake. Tteokbokki is a spicy Korean rice cake that is cylindrical in shape and cooked in spicy sauce, and when we say spicy food, Koreans are pretty serious about that.
By just walking on the biggest streets of Seoul and other big cities, you can easily find Korean street food vendors that sell tteokbokki. However, if you’re up for an adventure, you can visit Tteokbokki Town in Sindang for the best tteokbokki in South Korea.
English Translation: Korean Fish Cakes
This next Korean street food is the one that Gu Jun-Pyo in Boys Over Flowers surprisingly loved. Fish cakes have always been people’s favorite in South Korea and in different parts of the world.
Traditionally, fish cakes are dipped in a salty soy sauce with green onions and sesame oil. This is often the cheapest Korean street food that you can find in the streets, and the price varies depending on the size of the skewers.
The term 오뎅 odeng comes from the Japanese word oden, which refers to a style of stew that frequently includes fish cakes. Since the Koreans won their independence, the native word 어묵 eomuk has become more widely used, and it usually refers to the round and doughy sort of fish cake that is the more popular of the two variants.
English Translation: Korean-style French Fries Corn Dog
Imagine two of the best snacks in the world, hot dog and french fries combined; the result is the Gamja-Hotdog. This Korean-style French Fries Corn Dog is a fun Korean street food that is made with a hot dog covered in crispy, golden brown potatoes. There are other varieties of Korean corn dogs, like the one with mozzarella, but the Gamja-Hot dog is already a treat for your taste buds.
English Translation: Korean Fried Chicken
Every time K-dramas feature Korean fried chicken, you can’t help but crave it. Well, what’s not to love in a Korean fried chicken? It is unique, tasty, crunchy, and flavorful. The fried chicken didn’t come to Korea until the Americans arrived during World War II. But, Korean fried chicken is different from the Kentucky fried chicken that the Westerns love.
Korean fried chicken is fried twice to achieve the crispy-paper thin skin that cracks at every bite. This Korean street food is also best partnered with beer which they called 치맥 chimaek (fried chicken and beer) in South Korea.
English Translation: Korean Seaweed Rice Rolls
Gimbap 김밥 (Gimbap), also known as Korean Sushi, is a Korean street food made with cooked rice and many other toppings rolled up in a gim (a dried sheet of seaweed) and served in bite-sized slices.
English Translation: Korean Chicken Skewers
Ddakkochi is another Korean street food in a skewer. It is a popular grilled chicken street food with a sweet and spicy sauce coating. It is more delicious because the chicken doesn’t have bones anymore, so it’s more convenient to eat.
You can also find a variety of Chicken skewers with no sauce, just salt, and a very spicy one called bomb-flavored chicken. Well, it’s not surprising since Koreans love spicy food.
English Translation: Korean Hotdog And Rice Cake Skewers
Imagine hot dogs and rice cakes in one skewer. How amazing is that? Even the name is so witty because it actually came from So (소) of sausage ( 소세지 soseji) and tteok (떡) from rice cake (떡볶이 Tteokbokki). This mouth-watering Korean street food is made with sausages, and rice cake that is put in skewers then coated with ketchup, red pepper paste-baste spices, and mustard.
English Translation: Korean Dumplings
We cannot talk about Korean street food without Korean dumplings or mandu (만두). It is the Korean version of filled dumplings, often made with meat, tofu, garlic, glass noodles, and green onions. Historically, mandu was served regularly in a court of the Joseon dynasty, and now, it can be found in the streets of South Korea, especially in the largest cities like Seoul.
Mandu is very similar to gyoza which is a popular Japanese dish. There are varieties of mandu that people can enjoy, like steamed mandu, fried mandu, and boiled mandu. There are also flat mandu and balled mandu whose fillings can be traditional or regional based.
English Translation: Korean Sweet Pancakes
Another Korean street food that K-dramas also popularize is the Korean sweet pancake. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll definitely love this sweet syrup-filled Korean street food. It has a Korean Chinese Cuisine origin, which makes it a prevalent dish.
This popular Korean street food is easy to make. You just need wheat flour, milk, water, yeast, and sugar for the dough and cinnamon, brown sugar, honey, and peanuts for the syrup. There are also varieties of hotteok, but the sweet pancake is one of the most popular.
English Translation: Mung Bean Pancakes
Another Korean street food that belongs to the pancake family is the Mung bean pancake. The story behind the mung bean pancake is pretty amazing. In the old times, meat is very expensive for ordinary people. Since they can’t afford meat, they just use scraps and fat as an ingredient to make their food flavorful.
The ingredient for mung bean pancakes is pretty simple. This Korean street food uses ground mung beans that are mixed with vegetables or meat and cooked in oil. Because it is oily and has a savory flavor, it is considered one of the greatest dishes to consume when drinking alcohol.
English Translation: Korean Fish Shaped Pastry
If you’re a K-drama fan, you are probably already familiar with this Korean street food. It was seen in hit K-drama series like Vicenzo and Reply 1988. Korean fish-shaped pastry is so tasty in the sweet red bean paste fillings. It is a waffle-like freshly toasted fish-shaped bread that is best served warm. Because of its sweetness, it is perfect for dessert.
Pick up the fish-shaped bungeoppang whether you’re looking for something somewhat sweet or something out of this planet sweet. There are numerous bungeoppang varieties to choose from, making this cuisine even more enjoyable and interesting, like the one filled with ice cream and the one filled with chocolate syrup.
English Translation: Korean Steamed Buns
Are you up for something not so heavy but satisfying Korean street food? Then, the Korean steamed buns are perfect for you. It is indeed one of the most affordable meals that can be easily found in the street and even in convenience stores. It is a popular Korean snack that is filled with sweetened red bean paste. It can also be filled with vegetables and other kinds of meat.
Since it has been around for more than 250 years, it’s no surprise that Korean seemed buns are one of the most popular Korean street food. It is easy to eat because you can just grab it with your bare hands. Some want to put the sauce in it, but the bun itself tastes good even without a sauce.
English Translation: Chrysanthemum Bread
The Chrysanthemum Bread is a Korean street food that is not something with a flower inside. It is only baked in a chrysanthemum-shaped mold using dough and red bean paste. This cutesy but delicious Korean street food is hard to resist because it has the flavor of either honey, peanuts, or walnuts.
English Translation: Korean Rice Burger
Rice plus burger, doesn’t it sound weird? Not at all! This unique Korean street food will definitely satisfy your cravings because it holds a very delicious taste of rice, buns, meat, and veggies. It gained popularity not just because of its delicious taste, but it is also one of the most affordable meals that students with a low budget can afford.
In eating Bap Burger, you can be as experimental as you want. You can eat it with kimchi, spicy chicken or pork, and a variety of vegetables. The smokey flavor and crunchy texture will make you crave more.
English Translation: Egg Bread
This Korean street food might sound as simple as its ingredients, egg (gyeran) and bread (ppang), but Korean egg bread offers a unique taste that you’ll definitely crave. Egg bread has a sweet and savory flavor that is popular during the winter season because it’s steamy and warm when served.
It is also easy to make egg bread. You just need some mixing flour, milk, eggs, baking powder, butter, sugar, and salt to make a dough. Once the ingredients are all perfectly mixed, they will then be put onto a gyeran-ppang machine. Crack a whole egg onto the bread batter and cook it until it’s golden brown. After that, you can enjoy your egg bread with a hot drink or any drink you like.
English Translation: Rice In A Cup
Koreans have a thing called the “Pali-pali“ culture (빨리빨리 ppallippalli). It refers to a fast-moving lifestyle to be more productive and make every second worth it. No wonder why on-the-go Korean street food such as Rice in a cap (컵밥 Cupbab) is very popular in South Korea.
This Korean street food is often made with Kimchi fried rice as the base and topped with various toppings like sausages, tuna, ham, and egg. It is very cheap and tasty at the same time, that’s why Koreans, especially the students, really dig this Korean street food.
English Translation: Korean Sausage
Korean blood sausage 순대 (soondae) is another street food that is popular in South Korea. It’s impossible not to find a single street vendor that sells this because it’s really popular. Just like what is mentioned above, it is best partnered with rice cakes (떡볶이 tteokbokki). Most street vendors also sell the fusion of soondae (순대) and tteokbokki (떡볶이).
Soondae is best enjoyed with dipping sauce. However, dipping sauce varies depending on what region of Korea you’re in. Some serve soondae with salt, and some offer soondae with making. Just find what suits your taste, and you’ll definitely love it.
English Translation: Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Roasted Sweet Potatoes are not new because it is widely eaten in different countries as a meal or snack. What sets Korean roasted potatoes from others is that it is cooked in a unique way. Korean street vendors use metal drum cans for cooking this Korean street food.
Gun Goguma is usually eaten with honey and butter, but surprisingly, some people love to eat it with kimchi. Well, you can never really go wrong with kimchi.
English Translation: Korean Sponge Candy
Calling all the Squid Game fans! This Korean street food is definitely known in the whole world because it was featured in the series Squid Game. It is a dessert perfect for all ages. This trendy Korean street food is hard to resist, given its popularity and deliciousness.
Making Dalgona is pretty easy. In fact, there are lots of Tiktok tutorials about this. Dalgona is created by melting sugar and adding a pinch of baking soda to the mixture. The sugar will convert into a caramel-colored whipped cream that you may shape whichever you desire.
English Translation: Tornado Potato
It might sound dangerous but believe me, it’s nothing but a delicious potato Korean street food cut into a spiral and fried on a skewer. Koreans usually put seasonings like cheese, onions, and more to make this more delicious. This also gained popularity in different parts of the world, that are why many people are already familiar with this when they visit South Korea.
More Korean Street Food
Complete Your Food Trip Experience By Learning Korean
Part of the whole food trip adventure in South Korea is communicating with street vendors about the price and some information about the food. But, how can you do this if you don’t know any Korean? Well, it’s never too late for you to start learning Korean. For a fun-filled language learning experience, try using the Ling app.
The Ling app lets you learn essential vocabulary that you’ll need in daily life, like ordering food, traveling, greetings, and more. The Ling app does not only teach you random words that you can never use in real life. It has a lot of features developed to make language learning effective so that you can master the Korean language in record time.