Famous Korean Street Foods (halal-friendly)

by - January 11, 2018

One of the first things I love to do in a new place is try street food. I don't know about you but I have a habit of snacking, and preferably, I can replace these snacks with entire meals. In South Korea, I've been lucky to try some really quirky and interesting things. Of course, read my post on Gwangjang market to get to see more food pictures.

This is perhaps the most popular Korean food items, found at almost all street corner. It is basically a rice cake, which is called tteok in Korean, that is seasoned in red chilli gochujang sauce. Again, Gochujang sauce is the primer in all Korean foods, made by fermenting soybeans and red chillies into a sauce that is used extensively, even in bibimbap. They say that tteokbokki used to be just for the royal court, but now even partygoers will stop on the street to fill up on it. The chewy rice cakes taste quite neutral themselves and almost demand the spicy and sweet sauce.  

Gyeran means egg and bbang means bread/cake. It’s a warm soft fluffy bread topped with egg that you can easily find in most streets of Korea.

3. Korean fried chicken
Yes, Korean-style fried chicken is basically KFC with the red sauce, gonjuchang.(yangnyeom tongdak) is a fusion food, the origins of which go back to when American soldiers met Korean tastes during the Korean War. But what a fusion, with tender, smaller chicken pieces drizzled with finger-licking spices. Or chicken that can go to town in spicy honey sauces, sesame seeds, garlic, peanuts and chilli flakes. The chilli-shy can try it with a straight up crunchy coating under a nest of grease-cutting spring onion threads. Something about combining Korean chicken with beer (mekju) is so right, with the beer and a side of pickles cleaning the palate for more. No wonder this combo, known as chimek (chicken + mekju), is popular in bars and casual chimek diners, but you’ll also find Korean chicken at street stalls. The small boneless bite-sized pieces are still double fried, Korean style, giving them that distinctive crackle. A small box is a great way to satisfy a craving or try parmesan flavour for maximum fusion.

Twigim (Korean-style tempura)
Twigim is a fancy name for fried tempuras and vegetables. More common are seafood tempuras or prawns, sweet potatoes, some green vegetables etc. Almost all vendors sell it for like $2 -$3 for 5 pieces of fried deliciousness.

Gimbap (Korean sushi)
They look like sushi, but don't taste as good and often contain spam. I'm not the biggest fan of gimbap, but if you like the seaweed and rice combo, go for it. Fillings are often lots of veggies, spam, tofu, or egg. Usually a $1 for a roll.

Korean pancakes
So there are two types of pancakes. One are the green colored ones called pajeon. These are basically stuffed with leeks and green onions, while another variant called the haemul pajeon are filled with seafood and squid. 

A nicer version, in my honest opinion, is the bindaetteok, which you can try at Gwangjang, and they are not green colored. Instead, they are a traditional thick pancake made of a unique batter of mung beans.

Odeng (fish-cake skewers)
Odeng are fishcakes on a skewer that are often served with a broth. If you are spice- or meat-shy, this is your street-eat saviour. The main flavour is a soft and smooth fishcake, either elongated or flat and folded over, the skewers jutting from steaming vats of broth. This hot soup is a gentle seafood and spring onion-infused broth that Koreans say cures hangovers. It’s popular in winter and many Koreans drink the soup alongside soju to temper the alcohol’s fire. Everything is self-serve, just ladle the satisfying broth, help yourself to the skewers and the stall keeper will count up the sticks when you’re done. In larger places, you’ll find different coloured skewers that correspond to different prices on the price board.

While they are called a Korean doughnut, they don't taste like one. I'm not the biggest fan of the savory ones but I like the sweet ones. The really popular ones are the ones filled with sesame seeds and peanuts and found in Busan. I like the ones with red beans and honey.

Bungeoppang and gukhwappang (red bean waffles)
You will often see these fish shaped waffles. Real nice. In any town in Korea, cute fish-shaped sweet cakes will be there on the streets. These bungeoppang have a golden brown, waffle-like exterior that is both soft and crispy to bite into, giving way to hot sweet red bean paste. There is no actual fish in bungeoppang, and you’ll find street vendors pouring a kettle of batter into moulds of other shapes, too, such as chrysanthemum-flowers to make gukhwappang.

Again another fancy name for plain old chicken skewers. Though not the best street food, I like them because I don't eat pork. Also, since these are not overly friend, I really like them.

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