I've only been to Seoul, South Korea twice, and I'm sure their street food scene has a whole lot more to offer on top of the five treats I will feature here. But if it's your first time in Seoul, trying out these five street food snacks would be a good way to start your Korean food trip. And remember my piece of advice about ordering food in a foreign country: smile, keep an open mind, trust the friendly ajumma, hope for the best, prepare to laugh at the worst, and you might just be rewarded with a surprisingly good meal.
1. Tteokkbokki (Rice Cakes), Hot Broth, Kimbap (Dried Seaweed Rice Rolls), Deep Fried Snacks, Soondae (Blood Sausage)
You've never tried Korean street food if you've never sat / stood in front of a streetside stall that sells these basic Korean street food treats. Tteokkbokki is spicy carbohydrates incarnate, kimbap is a lot like sushi, while the various deep fried snacks are probably the most familiar to foreigners (they'll remind you of tempura), and the soondae is not for the faint of heart. Wash them all down with the warm broth that comes free and unlimited, as long as you're nice to the lovely ajumma.
2. Dakkochi (Grilled Chicken Skewer)
Edible magic, if I may say so myself. I don't know why I have such a fascination with skewered meat of all kinds (though I know how to draw the line on what I'll try too - it'll probably take a very good dare to get me to taste these exotic skewered treats they sell in China), but there's something so delightfully easy about snacking on perfectly marinated and grilled chicken or pork on a stick. Rissee and I especially loved the dakkochi we bought from the stall pictured below, which was also our first foray into Korean street food. On our second visit to Seoul, we scoured the Hongdae streets in the hopes of getting another taste of that legendary dakkochi, but had no such luck finding the stall again. We settled for buying some on our visit in Itaewon, and while it just wasn't the same, the spicy grilled chicken still tasted great.
Does anybody know where we can find the dakkochi stall pictured above? It should be somewhere in Hongdae.
Look how happy we are - the Cass beer helped quite a lot with the happiness too.
3. Bungeoppang, Carp Bread / Cake
I'm not even bothered that they're shaped like poop - in fact it rather adds to the charm of this street food snack. Found in the many subway stations around Seoul, the more commercial ones offer different kinds of filling like chocolate and peanut butter, but the more traditional ones usually offer them with red bean filling (and they're shaped like fish, not poop). They're affordable, so you can try all sorts of flavors and pick your favorite!
4. Crazy Corndog
The Korean take on the western corndog, which roughly translates to covering the hotdog not just with ordinary batter, but one that has fries mixed into it. Add a lot of ketchup and mustard and voila, a deep-fried masterpiece you wouldn't want to pass up on. Yup, you're going to hate yourself after finishing one (as I did), but it's just too weird - the good kind of weird - that you'll be crazy not to try it (pun intended).
5. Hotteok (Sugar-filled pancakes)
My friends and I loved hotteok so much that on both our trips to Seoul, we were unable to take even one decent photo of it. The reason? We couldn't wait to bite into its sugary sweet and warm goodness, all documentation protocol was thrown out the window at the sight of it. Look how happy we are in the photo below, the only fairly decent one I could salvage that captured the hotteok. Amanda of the Farsickness blog had much more self control than my friends and I did, and has better photos of this delightful snack.
Which of these Korean street food delights are you most interested to try?