When you roam the streets of Korea, you will see numerous stalls selling various appetizing snacks. Koreans are enthusiastic foodies, and street food has become a huge part of their culture. The most common places to find Korean street snacks are in train and subway stations, traditional markets, outside major tourist attractions and commercial districts. Furthermore, if you’re a K-Drama fan, you’ll have surely watched countless scenes of characters enjoying street food. It all looks delicious right? Well let’s dive right in and take a look at 20 Popular Korean Street Snacks!
1. Tteokbokki (Korean Spicy Rice Cakes)
When it comes to Korean street food, tteokbokki tops the list. This is definitely one for those who love spicy food! Tteokbokki are chewy rice cakes, cut into cylinders, mixed with a spicy sauce. At tteokbokki restaurants, you can get special toppings like ramen noodles, cheese and eggs. However, as a street snack, tteokbokki is typically eaten with fishcakes and sundae…stay tuned.
Known as ‘eomuk’ in Korean, fishcakes are one of the most famous Korean street food. Served as a skewer, alongside a cup of that delicious broth, it is the perfect snack to warm tummies on a cold day. It also goes great dipped in tteokbokki sauce too! Interestingly, you may hear Koreans refer to fishcakes by their Japanese word, ‘odeng.’
3. Hotteok (Korean Sweet Pancake)
Got a sweet tooth? I hope so. Hotteok is a Korean favourite sweet street treat, consisting of small pancakes filled with a variety of different fillings. The traditional hotteok is filled with a mixture of peanuts, cinnamon, brown sugar and honey. However, you can also find hotteok filled with red bean paste, sweet potato, or even savoury versions with kimchi and noodles.
4. Carp Bread
This fish-shaped delicacy is a favorite during winter. Carp bread, or ‘bungeo-ppang’ in Korean, is a golden pastry stuffed with sweet red bean paste, in the shape of a carp. While red bean is the traditional filling for this crispy treat, you can also find variations with chocolate and cream. If you like your desserts cold, try the carp bread ice cream, Samanco, available at every convenience store.
5. Jeon (Korean Pancake)
More pancakes! This time, its the classic Korean ‘jeon’, a savoury pancake and the perfect addition to mak-geolli (Korean rice wine) on a rainy day. If you’re not a fan of spice or wild flavours, these pancakes are pretty much a guaranteed favourite. Popular jeon includes pajeon, made with scallions/spring onions, kimchi jeon and haemul jeon, made with seafood.
6. Tornado Potatoes
Definitely one of the more eye-catching Korean street snacks, Tornado Potatoes are a highway rest stop specialty. Essentially, potatoes are skewered and then sliced thinly, fanned out into a spiral and then deep-fried. Before serving up hot and fresh to customers, they are seasoned with various flavours, like cheese, honey or onion powders.
7. Gimbab (Korean Sushi)
Gimbab is a classic member of the Korean school lunch. It consists of a seaweed rice roll, stuffed with any ingredient you could imagine! Classic fillings include ham, tuna, carrots, picked radish and egg. However, if you head down to a local gimbab joint, you’ll be spoilt for choice with flavours! Gimbab is sometimes dubbed ‘Korean sushi’ by foreigners, but unlike authentic Japanese sushi, raw fish is not used in gimbab.
8. Egg Bread
For those of you that like bacon on your pancakes, peanuts in your chocolate or basically your sweet with your salty, then you’ll love egg bread. Egg bread, or ‘gyeran-ppang’ in Korea, consists of fluffy, sweet pastry topped with a fried egg. Sometimes it is topped with cheese or ham, but it is the perfect Korean epitome of sweet n’ salty.
9. Sundae (Korean Blood Sausage)
Next up is ‘sundae’, remember I mentioned that it goes well with tteokbokki and fishcakes? Sundae is Korean blood sausage, made with glass noodles wrapped in beef or pork intestines. Don’t be put off by the mention of ‘blood’ and ‘intestines’, the main ingredient is chewy noodles, with no blood in sight! You can either dip it in salt or in the tteokbokki sauce.
10. Potato-Battered Hot Dog
Similar to the great American corn dog, this deep-fried Korean street snack is coated in a special batter, with chunks of french fries in it! I wouldn’t blame you for drooling just by looking at it. Like the other snacks, potato hot dogs come with different variations as well.
11. Pigs’ Trotters
Jokbal is a pig’s trotters dish cooked in soy sauce garlic, ginger, and other spices. There is a spicy version as well. Koreans would usually accompany this food with alcoholic drink.
12. Fried Chicken
Classic Korean fried chicken. It’s extra crispy and delectably delicious. You can make a meal out of Korean chicken at any one of the chicken restaurants dotted around the country, or purchase a box from a food stall as well. Additionally, fried chicken has perhaps the most variations out of all Korean street snacks! Choose saucy or crispy, and then your flavor. Cheese, black bean, spicy, rose — even mint chocolate…
13. Stir-fried Glass Noodles
Commonly served as a side dish, stir-fried glass noodles are a Korean favourite. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that ‘japchae’, as it’s called in Korean, became a grab-and-go street food too. Typically, the noodles are fried along with veg, meat and sesame seeds.
14. BBQ Chicken Skewers
Barbequed chicken with scallions, marinated and glazed in teriyaki-like sauce. A guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
15. Mandu (Korean Dumplings)
Mandu, one of Korea’s representative foods. Korean dumplings of course vary in their fillings, but the country’s favourite comes with ground meat, garlic, scallions and glass noodles inside. Nowadays, you can even find vegan dumplings in Korean supermarkets.
16. Everything Fried
Deep fried food, also known as ‘twi-gim’ can be anything from veg, calamari and octopus to seaweed noodle rolls and soft-boiled eggs! If you visit street stall, particularly those with tteokbokki and sundae, and like everything you see, you can ask for ‘mo-deun twi-gim’ which means everything fried!
17. Twisted Doughnut
Korea’s doughnut is a little different from what you may be used to back home. Made with glutinous rice flour and butter, these twisted treats are deep-fried and covered with sugar and cinnamon.
18. Red Bean Buns
‘Jjin-ppang’ are steamed buns stuffed with red bean paste. Other kinds are filled with vegetables or meat. This snack is best to eat it while still hot.
19. Roasted Sweet Potato
Vendors roast sweet potato in drum cans or in mini charcoal grills in convenience stores. Like many other Korean street snacks, hot n’ hearty sweet potato is particularly popular in winter.
20. Puffed Rice Crackers
These puffed rice crackers are known as ‘ppeong-twigi’ in Korean. Why? Because when the rice kernels puff up they make a ppeong! sound. Simple and sweet, ppeong-twigi is perfect for those craving that crispy crunch that you only get with chips or candy.
Interested in other Korean street snack variations? Check out the articles below.