17+ Best Korean Street Foods (From a Local!)

Unlike in some countries, most Korean street foods are healthy, filling, and decently nutritious. I’ve been known many-a-night to only have street snacks for dinner, because the portions you usually get are pretty generous, and everything is affordable. Gimbap and tteokbokki are some of the most common ones, and at around $1-2USD each, they’re on the cheaper end of the spectrum.

However, everything featured on this list costs less than ₩10000, or $7USD. So I don’t want you to limit yourself to just rice-based dishes, as Korean food can get very diverse. Here’s our list of the best, most affordable street food in Korea.

Best Korean Street Foods Overall

These are mostly dishes made famous by K-Dramas, specifically because they’re so popular in Korea. Locals tend to enjoy these dishes served hot with shots of soju on the side, especially when eating in a tent along a main thoroughfare (it’s a thing, I promise).

Soondae

Where in Korea to Find it: everywhere, but best in Busan

Soondae is commonly referred to as Korean blood sausage, but don’t let the name deter you. It’s a popular street food made by steaming cow’s or pig’s intestines with green chili and ssamjang sauce. It may be a new flavor for some people, since this dish also contains pig’s blood, but you’ll be surprised to find out that the flavor is mild and the texture is soft. You can have it served in a guk or other soup during the winter or after a long night out.

Mandu

Where in Korea to Find it: everywhere, but nothing beats the ones sold in Myeongdong

You can find two types of mandu in Seoul: gogi mandu and kimchi mandu. Both of these types of Korean dumplings traditionally contain meat & vegetables wrapped in a wheat-based dough. Sometimes served with tofu and sweet potato noodles, mandu is a very comforting, warming food, especially if you’re craving something flavorful.

Eomuk (Odeng)

Where in Korea to Find it: everywhere, but popular in Busan

Eomuk helped me survive my first few months in Korea. Often found in food stalls with deep fryers, this budget-friendly fish stick is a large skewer simmered in broth, and then dipped in salty soy sauce and sesame oil before eating. If you find yourself in Busan, head to Bupyeong Kkangtong Market to find Eomuk Alley, a row of street food stalls that specialize in this dish, so you can try the many variations it has. Note that eomuk is the same as odeng, which I was always told is a Japanese word for the same dish.

Spicy Korean Street Foods

We all know that Korean food can be wicked spicy. But the dishes below are the ones that are mean to be spicy Korean street foods— proceed with caution.

Tteokbokki

Where in Korea to Find it: everywhere

Tteokbokki is everywhere in South Korea. Streets, restaurants, and markets are fragrant with this chewy, heavily-spiced rice cake. This dish is also popular when locals meet after school or work; you can spot people of all ages standing outside street food stalls holding a cup in one hand and a toothpick in the other. Koreans love tteokbokki so much that they even dedicated an entire museum to it.

Tteok-kkochi

Where in Korea to Find it: Insadong

Also known as the skewer version of tteokbokki, this Korean street snack is slathered in lots of gochujang, a thick fermented chili paste. Even the kid-friendly versions can get fiery to the untrained tongue, but it leaves a pleasantly sweet aftertaste that keeps you wanting more.

Every November 11, people head over to Insadong to witness the Garatteok festival, and variations of rice cakes including tteokggochi are available for foreigners to try for free.

Ojingeo-ppang

Where in Korea to Find it: Gangneung 

Due to its proximity to Jumunjin port, Gangneung Jungang Market gets its squid fresh from the fishermen based there. Ojingeo-ppang is a squid-shaped toasted pancake made with a thick batter full of cheese and ssamjang (sweet fermented soy paste).

Despite the name and shape, ojingeo-ppang only contains squid powder rather than bits of fresh squid. It’s somewhat like bindaetteok (mung bean pancakes), but a smaller and spicier version that’s sure to leave an impression in your taste buds (just be sure not to get the version with sweet red bean paste!).

Dakgangjeong

Where in Korea to Find it: everywhere, but Pyeongtaek dakgangjeong are the most famous

Stir-fried and marinated in sweet chili sauce, this soy garlic chicken dish is often confused with yangnyeom chicken. In reality, the only difference lies in the dredging and frying process, and the fact that dakgangjeong is always boneless.

If you ever find a dakgangjeong stall, try pairing a small box of it with rice, some vegetables, and an ice-cold beer. The ones in Pyeongtaek are said to be more appealing to Westerners, since it is the site of a U.S. Military Camp, and most of the food there includes spices that hit closer to home.

Sweet Korean Street Foods 

Sweets are not an essential part of Korean cuisine; however, when they do opt for sweets, Koreans really indulge. Some of my favorite treats are actually Korean street foods, especially the winter ones.

Ttongppang

Where in Korea to Find it: everywhere, but it originated in Insadong

Shaped like a poop emoji, thankfully this creation tastes nothing like it looks. Ttongpang is a delicious sweet bread filled with red bean paste and crushed walnuts. Locals have fun eating it because it earns strange looks from foreigners, but at the end of the day, once you’ve tried it you always come back for more.

Gamja Hotdog

Where in Korea to Find it: everywhere

The gamja-hotdog is the famous Korean corn dog sold in almost every market in Korea. This sausage-based treat stands out from the rest because the flavor is quite sweet rather than the usual savory. Even though this can be too sweet for an American palate, it is still a delicious snack. I humbly declare it also tastes even better with cheese, ketchup, and a slather of mayo.

Hotteok

Where in Korea to Find it: everywhere

These glutinous rice-based pancakes are particularly popular in winter, because they’re served hot off the griddle, so eating them warms you right up. While the traditional version is stuffed with sugar, sunflower seeds, and cinnamon, some harder-to-find types contain vegetables, kimchi, and even meats. Although eating it as soon as possible is tempting, you may want to wait just a bit, because the sugar filling can get scalding.

Bunggeoppang

Where in Korea to Find it: everywhere

Another famous Korean winter street food is the fish-shaped bunggeoppang, a thin waffle traditionally filled with a dollop of sweetened red bean paste. However some stalls prefer using pastry cream instead, or even put pizza toppings, chocolate, or various kinds of jam. There’s also an ice cream version called ssamanko, which you can buy from any convenience store or minimart.

Goonbam

Where in Korea to Find it: everywhere, but in off-season try Gwangjang market

These are roasted chestnuts commonly sold on every street corner in Korea once the winter rolls in. The time spent waiting for your order will be entertaining, as well, because every stand has this cool rolling pot that slowly cooks the chestnuts above a coal fire. When you finally take a bite, you’ll taste hints of sweet potato with a sweet, buttery soft finish.

Savory Korean Street Foods 

Most Korean street foods are savory because they make their food with a range of seasonings. Examples of these are kanjang (fermented soy sauce), doenjang (fermented soybean paste), vinegar, gochujang (fermented hot pepper paste), and jeotkal (fermented fish sauce derived from anchovy & shrimp).

Bindaetteok

Where in Korea to Find it: everywhere, but locals prefer the ones sold in Jongno’s 낙원대떡

Greasy and savory, this mung bean-based dish features bits of meat and vegetables, perfect after a night of drinking. Koreans love pairing this snack with Cass beer, Terra, or soju since the nutty flavor of mung bean is further reinforced when you down a bottle.

It’s also historically relevant as the dish that commoners used to eat because meat became too expensive, so they had to devise creative ways to ration it. A single order is usually bigger than your face, however, so bring friends to help you finish it off.

Gun Goguma

Where in Korea to Find it: during winter it’s everywhere, other seasons it’s scarce but usually in markets

If you find vendors with large drum cans in a nearby market, there is a big chance that they are selling gun-goguma. You can tell if you spot vendors wearing an ushanka hat, a Russian headpiece that Koreans have for some reason come to associate with sweet potato stalls. These fresh roasted sweet potatoes are a treat highly sought-after during winter, but the ice cream and smoothie versions are best enjoyed during summer.

Gilgeori Toast

Where in Korea to Find it: everywhere, but mostly sold near schools and workspaces

Gilgeori Toast is a Korean version of street toast, a savory sandwich with a sweetened egg mushed inside. This sandwich doesn’t take long to make, and it’s easy to find at any point in the day. You can even put ketchup inside for an extra kick.

Salty Street Foods

Korean street foods can also contain incredible amounts of salt; one prime example of this is their beloved kimchi

Gyeranppang

Where in Korea to Find it: everywhere, but the best ones are in Seoul’s Bangsan Market

Gyeranppang is a fluffy base of sweet bread with a cooked sunny-side-up quail egg on the top. In other words, this is more of a meal than a snack. If you want to try a heartier version of this dish, head over to Bangsan Market, where Seoul’s pâtissiers buy quality baking goods and supplies. Here the gyeranppang is made with the best-tasting ingredients, but is still affordable.

Dakggochi

Where in Korea to Find it: everywhere

Dakggochi is the Korean street food for you if you love the sweeter combination of grilled chicken, scallions, green onions, and glazed soy sauce. This is not to be confused with tteok-kkochi, which is made with rice cakes. One skewer is rarely enough. Compared to the other types of kkochi, this one tends to be a crowd favorite amongst teens & couples, and stalls are often full of people willing to line up to buy a bunch and bring home.

To truly enjoy the best street foods in Korea, one has only to venture into traditional markets and do what the locals do. Each stall may sell similar things, but let your nose guide you, and you’ll notice slight differences from one stall to another. It may also be fun to know that most Korean street foods are affordable and large enough to share with a group of friends. Even the pickiest eater can’t resist the mouthwatering visuals of Korean food!

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