The Best Korean Street Foods You Should Try

Korean street food Fish cakes in broth- featured image

My Favorite Korean Street Foods

I’m a big fan of street food, but it was when I compiled this list that I discovered my genuine liking for Korean street food. I was pleasantly surprised that my palate for Korean street food surpassed my expectations. Longtime favorites like mandoo and kimchi pancakes have been regulars in my life for as long as I can remember. On the flip side, recent additions like fish cakes (and almost anything on a stick) have introduced a new dimension to my Korean culinary journey. Check out my top 8 favorite Korean street foods for your next exploration of Korean street food stalls.

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Tanghulu (Candied Fruit Skewers)

Tanghulu is a Chinese snack made by coating fruit, like berries, grapes, oranges, or cherries with a layer of hard, transparent sugar glaze. The fruit skewers are typically served on bamboo sticks or skewers. The effect creates a sweet and crunchy treat.

Tanghulu’s popularity in South Korea has grown over the years. It’s commonly enjoyed during festivals and street fairs.

However these candied fruit skewers shops have been popping up all over the place, including my neighborhood in Suseong Lake.

Let’s talk travel; check out Beyond Borders: Stacey Peters on the Age Has No Limit Podcast.

Fish CakesOdeng (Fish Cake Skewers):

Odeng, a cherished Korean street food, showcases fish cake skewers prepared with a mixture of fish paste, starch, and seasonings. The fish cake, displaying various shapes and sizes, is skewered on sticks and then simmered or boiled in a hot broth. This broth, crafted with ingredients such as anchovies, kelp, and soy sauce, contributes a savory and slightly sweet depth to the dish. The combination of chewy fish cake and flavorful broth creates a comforting and popular treat. It’s customary to dip the odeng skewers into the hot broth, enhancing the overall taste and providing a satisfying street food experience enjoyed throughout Korea.

Tteokbokki

The Korean street food, tteokbokki, is an incredibly popular dish featuring chewy rice cakes cooked in a spicy and sweet gochujang-based sauce. It’s often served with fish cakes, boiled eggs, and vegetables. While not typically a portable snack, you’ll often find vendors cooking up batches in cauldrons on street corners and at traditional markets.

Kimchi Jeon

I love all Korean pancakes, but Kimchi Jeon might be my favorite non-sweet Korean street food. It features a savory pancake that combines kimchi and fermented cabbage with batter. The ingredients include kimchi, flour, water, egg, and often green onions or other vegetables. The tangy and spicy kimchi infuses the pancake, creating a delightful taste and a great recipe for leftover kimchi. The batter gives it a crispy texture, while the inside remains tender. Kimchi Jeon is typically pan-fried until golden brown, resulting in a satisfying combination of crunch and flavor. Often served with a soy sauce-based dipping sauce.

Hotteok

Hotteok is a sweet pancake filled with brown sugar, honey, peanuts, and cinnamon. The batter, a blend of flour, yeast, milk, and sugar, creates a golden, crispy exterior while the gooey filling adds a delightful sweetness.

Hoddeok is similar to hotteok, but these sweet pancakes are usually filled with seeds, honey, and nuts.

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Korean street food Bungeoppang

Bungeoppang

Bungeoppang, a fish-shaped pastry, is another Korean street food you might find on a stick. They are usually filled with sweet red bean paste. But they can come with other fillings like cream, strawberries, or raspberries. The golden-brown exterior provides a crisp contrast to the rich and sweet filling. Bungeoppang can also be a substitute for bread. One of my favorite lunches was a hamburger between two slices of Bungeoppang at Farts, yes, Farts Restaurant in Daegu.

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Gimbap

Gimbap is similar to sushi. It consists of rice, vegetables, and sometimes meat (shrimp, chicken, beef) rolled in seaweed. Its neatly rolled and sliced pieces offer a convenient and flavorful on-the-go snack. We often packed these for a snack while hiking or on road trips.

There are also bite-sized kimbap rolls, usually filled with pickled radish, carrots, and seasoned rice, served as a convenient snack.

Tornado Potatoes

Tornado potatoes are essentially spiral-cut potatoes skewered on a stick, deep-fried, and flavored with options like cheese or barbecue. These are a staple at fairs and festivals nationwide. The level of crispiness can vary; sometimes, they come with crispy edges and a chewy interior, while others are as crisp as potato chips. In either case, you can’t go wrong with a deep-fried potato.

Yakimandu

Yakimandu is a popular Korean street food known for its delicious dumplings. These dumplings are typically filled with a mixture of minced meat (commonly pork), vegetables, tofu, and sometimes glass noodles. The dumplings are then pan-fried to achieve a crispy, golden-brown exterior while maintaining a juicy and flavorful interior. The dipping sauce is often a combination of soy sauce, vinegar, and sometimes red pepper flakes.

One of the best places to check out all the foods above is at the Seomun Market in Daegu. In the comments below, let me know if your list looks like mine.

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Comments

    1. Stacey A. Peters

      Korean street food has a way of capturing the imagination and tantalizing the taste buds, doesn’t it? I love both sweet and savory pancakes– I started making jeon kimchi pancakes at home now. Each bite offers a taste of Korea’s rich culture and flavors. It’s an experience that combines delicious treats with the vibrant atmosphere of Korean streets. If you ever get the chance, diving into the world of Korean street food is a must-try adventure!

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