If one of your goals while visiting Korea is trying Korean traditional food for a cheap price, then Gwangjang Market is your place to go! Located in Jongno-gu, it’s one of the largest and oldest (it’s over a hundred years old and it has survived the Korean war) traditional street markets in South Korea! It has over 5,000 shops and around 65,000 visits this market every day. It’s one of the most rewarding experiences you can have when it comes to Korean traditional food
How to Get There
It will feel just like eating at a Korean family house. And it’s also super easy to get there, once the market is located nearby two subway stations: Jongno 5-ga and Euljiro 4-ga. The entrance is free and the market is opened every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The market offers you a full Korean experience – from the way it looks to the way it smells to what it’s sold in there! All of the food is hand-made and it shows – it tastes way better than the food you can buy at regular restaurants.
Korean Street Food
Starting off with the delicious mandu! For a fair price of around ₩5,000, you can try a plate with 8 mandu filled either with kimchi or meat. Mandu is a Korean traditional dumpling that can be boiled, steamed, pan, or deep-fried. Most of the mandu you find at the Gwangjang Market will be either steamed or boiled.
But there are a lot of other traditional Korean foods at the Gwangjang Market, like bindae-tteok and tteokbokki. Bindae-tteok consists of a traditional Korean Pancake that is made by grinding soaked mung beans, adding vegetables and meat. And then pan-fry it in the same shape of a pancake.
It’s usually served with kimchi as a side dish and some soy sauce where you can deep your bindae-tteok. Through the whole market, you can see the machines that ground the mung beans to make the Bindae-tteok dough. And you will also be able to see it being prepared.
You can find as much tteokbokki being sold as you find the Bindae-tteok. Tteokbokki is also a Korean traditional dish that consists of stir-fried rice cakes with a red spicy sauce. Don’t be fooled when you try tteokbokki for the first time! Korean standards for spiciness are very high, so even though the seller tells you it’s not that spicy, be careful and ask to try one first.
The tteokbokki sold at the Gwangjang market is way spicier than regular tteokbokki. There are some variations of this dish that you can also buy at the market, such as sotteok-sotteok (sausage and rice cakes with spicy sauce).
But the market doesn’t sell only food. You can also find some stores selling souvenirs related to Korean culture and also kitchen utensils for a very cheap price – including the very famous ramen pot we often see in Korean dramas and movies. The Gwangjang Market is a living museum that is still standing here and represents a time and a place in Korean culture and Korean history. You should definitely visit it!
Address: 88, Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea
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