I’ve found that Korea has one of the most exciting and diverse street food scenes in Asia. Not only do they dish old-school favourites like tteokbokki 떡볶이 but they also come up with new ones constantly. Tornado Potato 회오리감자 anyone?
My interaction with street food during the trip was fairly limited. It was a quick bite here and there amidst the shopping and the sightseeing. Like this corndogs we had in Myeongdong 명동, except it’s Korean style (which I’ve dubbed Kor-dog) with the sausage wrapped in fish cake to be deep-fried and slathered with sweet chilli sauce. Still unsatisfied by the sausage, we got another skewer. This time it’s a quintet of mini sausages. One of the mini sausages were actually a quintessential Korean ingredient of rice cake (tteok 떡) that has been wrapped in minced pork, before again given the same deep fried and sweet chilli sauce treatment. All the protein and carbs one needs after hours of shopping. The variety of just this one stall we visited was enormous.
During yet another long drive between cities, we stopped over at a rest area for bathroom breaks and the like. Now, if you’ve watched one or two Korean variety shows in the past, you would know rest stops in Korea are not just mere no-frills re-fuelling stations and they definitely do not serve lousy food. At one particular rest area, I remember having these elongated crackers that tasted faintly of fish. The packaging might have tipped us it was made of fish. I found out only recently from a korean reality show I was watching this elongated cracker is called fried jwipo crackers 튀김 쥐포 made from pressed filefish jerky. They were a delight to eat.
But I've got to say my favourite was the humble hodugwaja 호두과자. Originating from Cheonan, it is made by pouring batter into heated moulds shaped like walnut shells, topped with a filling of sweet bean paste and some chopped walnuts. The mould is then turned a couple of times until the dough puffs up and envelops the sweet and nutty filling. Not having any Korean vocabulary past the basic kamsahamnida 감사합니다, I can only communicate with body language with the ajumma 아줌마 who’s busily turning those moulds. Yet amidst going about her business she graciously invited me to come closer and take more pictures of how these cute snacks are made. Her little stall was in the middle of the business district surrounded by high-rise offices with no other food stalls around to speak off. Seeing how she’s still operating she must be doing some good business.
At the end of my trip, I felt like I didn’t even scratch the surface of Korea’s street food scene. Certainly something I need to correct on our next visit.
location of the stalls on google maps