Seoul Searching Part 1: Korean Street Food
16 November 2013
Over the next couple weeks, I’ll be sharing photos from my recent adventures in Seoul, South Korea. Since there was so much done, eaten and to see, I have decided to break it up into three different posts starting today with… “what I ate…” (food discoveries in Seoul) during my week over there!
Most important, in my opinion, is staying open to cultural differences and working hard to embrace as much of the unknown as possible. Why bother leaving your living room if you’re not out to see, touch, hear and taste new things? The food in Seoul is certainly adventurous, extremely spicy (I’m a lightweight when it comes to spicy foods) and amazingly cheap too (compared to London), so I had no intentions of leaving anything on my plate and was determined to try lots of NEWness!
We (I went to Seoul with Bazza) filled our bellies with casual eats like Korean bibimbap and kimchi filled dumplings but here are a few of our favourites spots and foods during the trip…
- Kimbap: these were rice rolls stuffed with cucumber, crab/seafood sticks, tuna, spam, turnip and wrapped in seaweed with a bit of roasted sesame oil. Dip these in soya sauce or whatever you like and once we started eating them, we couldn’t stop until the whole plate was clean!
- Eggy Bread: I have to admit this was my absolute favourite – deliciously sweet and filling for a street snack! A sweetened dough that was topped with an egg and cooked in a mini oven. The best ones leave the yolk a little runny too.
- Spamoholics: Koreans LOVE spam! (see photo and comments near the bottom of this post)
- Tokkebi Hotdogs: This was a hotdog that was double battered and double fried on a stick. Some even have a layer of potato around it too!
- Dragon Beard Candy in Insadong (a traditional Korean sweet): These guys do a great show where they take a block of fermented honey and turns it into 16,000 strings. It’s basically Asian style cotton candy except rather than using a machine to spin the sugar they use their hands to pull the sugar…with gloves! (it was amazing to watch). It is then stuffed with walnut or peanuts (assorted fillings). The guys behind the counter sing a chant whilst they make the sweet infront of customers – they do this in English, Japanese, or Chinese (see my video above).
- Pumpkin porridge: This was a good break from the grilled meats we indulged on. This was a thick porridge made from rice. Then they add different ingredients to make a kind of homely stew. The popular variations also available were made from red beans and black sesame seeds. I purchased mine from the Gwangjang Market (as pictured).
- Schneeeball: I purchased and ate my first Schneeball at an underground Kiosk called Cowafin. Schneeballen are a German pastry, and a really popular sweet snack in Seoul. These are made from shortcrust pastry and this one pictured is coated in white chocolate & dark choc chips. The waitress smashes it into pieces with a mallet for you to eat. By the way, these must be smashed prior to eating if you want to save your teeth!
- Dakkocchi: This was chicken on a skewer that was barbecued over a grill and basted with a spicy signature (super tasty) sauce.Typically these were cooked infront of us so we could specify the level of spiciness we wanted.
- Korean waffles with apple sauce: The waffle was quite airy and light, dissimilar to the denser western styled waffles/pancakes I’m used to eating back in the UK. Once handed to the customer, the treat is easily enjoyed on the go. I got my first taste of these waffles from a street food cart bang outside Changdeokgung Palace (he must had been very popular amongst the locals and tourists because his stall was really busy!)
- Locally made kimchi dumplings with own made noodles: Keepin’ it real, eating street food at Gwangjang Market (look out for my blog post about Markets and Cafes in Seoul). We ate at a stall that has been in business for 3 generations! They didn’t speak a word of English but I did understand when the boss asked me why I never finished my noodles. Everything was fresh, full of flavour and so beautifully delicious.
Koreans LOVE Spam! The pre-cooked tins of pork meat are the stuff of jokes, lunch boxes, wartime memories in South Korea, there’s clearly a national love affair with the stuff – Spam has become a staple of South Korean life. Classic spam, mild spam, bacon spam, garlic spam – whatever flavour tickles your fancy you’re sure to find the tin here.
While walking the streets of Seoul or navigating its subway stations, its easy to find wonderful treats, and the area of Myeongdong is where you get the most fierce competition for street food stalls. We left Seoul with very full and happy bellies and enough kimchi and spices in our systems to last us two months!
Stay tuned for the others things we did (Part 2: shopping and attractions) and more food adventures (Part 3: food markets, culture and coffee shops) in Seoul. I hope those of you who are planning a trip over there will find my Seoul Searching Series helpful – feel free to email me if you have any questions or need help with anything.