All right. So you are in streets of (insert your Korean city of choice here). After spending a couple of hours wandering and looking around in awe, you are -as expected- hungry. You have two main options: Going to a restaurant, or finding a Pojangmacha(tented restaurants on wheels or street stalls, you can think of them as street vendors).
Let’s see why you should choose the second one.
It is direct. Yes, when you are hungry, you want to eat and going to a restaurant means doing a lot of things besides the act of eating. You find a table, try to make an eye contact with a waiter/waitress, utter some unnecessary words, browse through the countless items on the menu that you don’t need, make and order and wait for the service, watching other people eat. But if you approach a hot-dog vendor on the street; well, you know what you want, the seller knows what you want, you pay, you get your food, and you start eating. Simple as that. And don’t forget, when you are in a beautiful city, satisfying your hunger with street food is a part of the city experience. You don’t need to take a lunch break from sightseeing, you can do all at once.
Of course there are downsides of having street food too. And they are..Well, who cares! Here are 5 tasty street foods from Korea:
1- Tteokbokki(Spicy Rice Cake)
Tteokbokki is a popular street food that is made with soft rice cakes and sweet chili sauce. It has many variations, and although the modern Tteokbokki become more popular after the Korean War, the origins of this food can be traced back to 1400s, possibly earlier. Spicy food may not be for everyone, but if you are all right with that, I suggest you give this one a try.
Photo: Debbie Tingzon
Bung’eo(붕어) mean Carassius, which is a kind of fish and ppang(빵) means bread. Bungeoppang is a fish-shaped sweet Korean pastry. More of a next-to-coffee snack, they are similar to the Japanese pastry Taiyaki. Don’t worry, they don’t contain fish.
Here we have a Korean street food superstar. A guilty pleasure that is mostly enjoyed at winter times, Hotteok is basically a fried pancake filled with honey, brown sugar and cinnamon. Do I need to say more?
Photo: Eliazar Parra Cardenas
4- Mayak Gimbap
Gimbap(basically steamed rice rolled in seaweed) is already a beloved Korean food. Now the interesting part: Mayak can be translated as drug. The reason this one is called Mayak Gimbap is that it is highly addictive. So, you are warned!
I know this doesn’t seem like it belongs to Korea -or any particular country for that matter- but this one’s actually one of the most popular street foods of Korea, so I had to include it. Spicy skewers of chicken and vegetables, served with sauce. That’s what you call cheap and tasty!
Photo: Chloe Lim
Hungry yet? You should be!
All right, of course there are lots and lots of other street foods in Korea. I just named five as starters and the rest is for you to discover!
I hope you enjoyed it, see you in another post!
Photo: Jirka Matousek