Hi, I’m a Korean-American foodie sharing my favorite Korean street foods!
I was born in New York City but since both my parents are from South Korea and I love Korean street foods, I had to go there to eat, eat and eat!
And let me tell you– Even though I was in Korea for three weeks, I did not have enough time to eat all the food! Eating was definitely one of the best things to do in Korea.
Even with some knowledge of Korean street foods and the language, navigating Korea was a little challenging in the first few days, especially with the huge underground subway stations. Pro Tip: Make sure to exit the right subway station or you could spend 15-20 min. above ground getting to the right corner an intersection.
If there’s anything you should NOT be confused about, it’s about what street food in Korea to eat. Here’s all the delicious foods to look out for!
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Essential Korean Street Foods Every Traveler Must Try
KFC (Korean Fried Chicken)
Think KFC means Kentucky Fried Chicken? Think again. In Korea, this generally refers to Korean Fried Chicken!
Growing up, my mom made this all the time at her dinner parties. It was the most popular Korean street dish on the table. Sadly, I didn’t like KFC growing up and now that she’s passed away, I can’t believe I used to not like this growing up.
Anyways, Korean restaurants and stalls double-fry the wings and drumsticks so they have a great crunch and retain the juiciness of the chicken. Furthermore, this fried chicken comes in a variety of flavors, such as soy, barbeque, spicy and even honey glazed.
It is one of the most popular street foods in Korea. I highly recommend BHC Chicken (Better and Happier Choice), and who doesn’t love eating chicken with a side of pickled daikon and some refreshing beer!
Want to try eat Korean Fried Chicken and drink beer in the most authentic way? Try this chicken and beer experience with a local food writer who full immerses you in Korea culture. Check it out here.
JAPCHAE – Stir-fried Noodles and Vegetables
Japchae was one of my favorite Korean street foods growing up. It’s perfect because you can have it cold, warm or hot. It really tastes great anyway.
It’s a delicious dish of stir-fry vegetables and transparent noodles full of complementary flavors like the nuttiness of sesame oil, savoriness of soy sauce and sweetness of brown sugar. You’ll actually find that a lot of Korean street dishes have these three ingredients.
Japchae noodles are very unique as they’re quite chewy (but not in a bad way; like in a very satisfying way). They’re chewier because they’re often made out of sweet potato starch instead of flour, egg and oil. This makes it less oily and fatty than regular noodles!
HOTTEOK – Sweet Pancakes
I absolutely loved hotteok growing up as a kid so it was really fun to visit South Korea and see this being sold out of a little cart on the street.
This Korean street food will definitely satisfy your sweet tooth! Hotteok is a flour dough pancake filled with sugar syrup inside. The dough is made from milk, sugar, wheat flour, and yeast and water.
It is usually very popular during Winter season, because of its warm to hot dough and sizzling syrup, and it is often paired with a glass of milk or hot choco. Who wouldn’t love that?!
KIMBAP – Korean Rice Roll with Meat and/or Vegetables
The best way to describe Kimbap is to relate it to Japanese sushi, which is much more common in the Western world (and of course the Eastern world). Korean Kimbap is similar to Japanese sushi rolls but also quite different because it’s much more filling and bursts with flavor.
Your trip to Korea doesn’t count if you did not try kimbap, one of the famous street dishes.
Also, kimbap is made from cooked ingredients whereas sushi often as raw fish. There are a ton of different variations of kimbap because you can make it with a variety of vegetables, fish and meats, which are rolled into sheets of seaweed with rice. Then it’s cut up in bite size pieces.
You’ll find tons of Korean streets foods filled with the nutty flavor and kimbap is no exception. It is seasoned with sesame oil and a little bit of salt.
This is one of the best street foods in Korea to get because of its portability. You can eat them almost anywhere, especially on the go, which is why it’s such a great street food to try in Korea.
If you are confused about all the street foods you eat in Korea or just want more guidance, then try this Secret Food Tour in Seoul, South Korea. The guide brings you through “hidden alleyways and quaint backstreets home to secret foodie gems”. Check it out here.
GYERAN-BBANG – Egg Bread
The best part about Gyeran-Bbang is how it melts in your mouth. Gyeran-BBang is egg bread and a popular winter Korean street meal. The smooth butteriness makes you feel like a kid again, while the hot crunch of the sweet bread makes your tastebuds want more and more.
Throughout my travels in Seoul, this egg bread was perfect traditional Korean meal. It’s easy to pack, but I’d recommend eating it when it’s nice and hot. Some stands also include strips of bacon or ham to go with this egg bread. It goes great with tea and is the perfect thing to warm you up in the early mornings.
PAJEON – Pancakes with Scallion
If you’re looking for a new variety of pancake, then you should try this easy to prepare Korean street dish!
Pajeon is made from Wheat and Rice flour, a batter of eggs, scallions or green onions, and often other ingredients depending on the variety. The texture of this pancake recipe is different, it is more of a crispy-fluffy pancake instead of a flakey-layered pancake.
And, we all know that the dipping sauce is what it’s all about. Typically, Pajeon is served with cho-gochujang, which is a sweet, tangy and spicy Korean dipping sauce.
TTEOKBOKKI – Stir-fried Rice Cakes
If you have traveled to Korea and went through street stalls and shacks, you won’t miss this very popular Korean street food. It consists of chewy rice cakes mixed with sweet and spicy pepper paste sauce, boiled eggs, and fish cakes. The spicy sauce is typically made with a combination of red chili pepper paste or Gojuchang, and red chili pepper flakes or Gochugaru.
It is one of those comfort street foods that many people love to eat because it is also very easy to prepare. It’s usually pretty spicy though, but I recommend having a go at it! If you love spicy food, tteokbokki Korean street foods is for you.
Bonus: Some tteokbokki might come with fish cakes so that’ll knock off two Korean street foods in one!
BUNGEOPPANG – Fish-Shaped Bread
There’s always room for dessert right? Boong Uh Ppang or Bungeoppang is the most popular street food in Korea and for a variety of reasons. First off, it’s absolutely adorable! Many vendors have different forms of this pastry, but you’ll mostly see it in the form of a goldfish.
This is the Korean version of the Japanese Taiyaki, a fish-shaped bread or pastry that is a popular Korean street food. Its batter is made of baking powder, water, milk and wheat flour, and optionally eggs. Sold at street stalls and grilled in using a fish-shared mold in the grill, similar to a waffle iron.
It’s flaky, sweet, warm, and utterly delightful. They are often filled with something inside, the popular ones are custard and sweetened red bean paste, but there are a lot of varieties and new flavors nowadays like chocolate, cream cheese, pastry cream, and even pizza toppings!
It’s the perfect way to end a night out on the town or a dinner date but it’s also very good with some morning coffee. This Korean street food is definitely worth trying.
SUNDAE – Blood Sausage
This is one of most popular street foods in Korea for locals. Sundae (순대) is generally made of pig’s blood, potato starch noodles, and barley. Yes, you read that right– pig’s blood. It is made by filling the intestines of a cow or a pig with Dangmyeons (당면), offal and pig’s blood. And then steamed or boiled in a pot giving it a solid consistency like sausage.
There are many varieties of this Korean street dish. Some have soybean paste, kimchi, rice and other ingredients added. The taste is intense but surprisingly good. I suggest you try it at least once. It’s a perfect cheap snack!
ODENG- Fish Cakes
Fish cakes are not actually cake but a savory fish dish. The texture is sort of like a meatball since it’s made of ground fish but the shape of the fish cakes can vary from meatball-shaped to flat, thin shapes.
Odeng is a fish cake, one of the delicious Korean street foods.
It is a classic Korean dish made with ground fish meat, flour and seasonings. This mixture is then skewered with a bamboo stick to eat as a street food.
They are often served in a broth, which are usually based on crabs, seaweeds, and turnips for added flavor.
This underrated delicacy tastes great but also very affordable. It’s also available pretty much everywhere, from street stalls, convenience stores and malls!
HWEORI GAMJA – Tornado Potato
If you love french fries or potato chips, you will surely enjoy this addictive snack. Who doesn’t love potatoes, right?
Hweori Gamja or widely known as Tornado fries or Twist Potatoes, is a whole potato cut into a spiral, skewed on a stick and deep-fried. Seasoned with plain salt and pepper or various flavored powders such as cheese, barbecue, onion and honey. There are also variations with spliced sausages or bacon in between.
Try this amazing Korean street dish and indulge in Korean delicacies.
GAMJA HOTDOGS – Korean Corndogs
I’m sure you’ve probably seen this snack if you’re a K-drama fan. Gamja hotdog is a deep-fried hotdog on a stick coated with batter. This favorite street food can be found anywhere in Korea. Plus, you will be satisfied because of its different varieties, taste and size.
Among the popular variations are Gamja hotdogs with mozzarella cheese, wrapped in bacon, and some would like it coated with sugar. Common choices in toppings are french fries, cornflakes, panko breadcrumbs, and even ramen noodles! You can also eat this with condiments like mustard and ketchup. I’d suggest eating it while it’s warm and you will surely enjoy this Korean street food!
BINDAETTEOK – Mung Bean Pancakes
If you’re looking for something savory, absolutely delicious and filling, bindaetteok, also known as mung bean pancakes, will satisfy you until your next meal. This dish has also made it to one of the best street foods in Korea.
The mung beans are grounded to a paste and fried in vegetable oil. There are many variations of this as well – you can get seafood or even kimchi in a fried pancake form as well!
MANDU – Korean Dumpling
Mandu is one of my favorite Korean street foods to make at home.
What makes mandu so different from your traditional dumplings is that they’re larger and really stuff with lots of ingredients such as meat, seafood and/or vegetables.
What truly sets them a part though is that many Korean street foods dumplings have sweet potato noodles inside them, which gives them an airier chew.
They are pan-fried to create a nice crunchy texture, which then clashes with the juiciness of the meat and veggies on the inside. What I love about Mandu is that even though it’s delicious korean street foods, it really feels like you’re eating homemade food.
This street food tour brings you to try mandu, fried fish cakes and even Korean barbecue in a small group setting! Korean barbecue isn’t listed here but it is for sure a must try while in Korea, and to be honest, for first time Korea barbecuers, you’ll probably want a guide to tell you traditional ways to eat the meat with lettuce and rice*. Try more than the usual street food to eat in Korea. Check this tour out here.
*If you don’t go with a guide to a Korean barbecue restaurant, know that 1) you will come out smelling like grilled meat for the rest of the night. The smoke sticks onto your clothes and in your hair–yum. 2) You take a piece of lettuce and place rice, a piece of meat and a little bit of sauce in it. You can cook the meat yourself but servers also come around and check too. I highly recommend going with a local if you need guidance.
Grilled Cheese and Rice Skewers
Now – I know what you might be thinking. Grilled cheese and rice on a stick? Well, from my experience – it’s ridiculously delicious and is very fun to eat. The skewers have rice cake on them as well, as a means to add additional texture to the already chewy cheese.
Korea is obsessed with cheese, and once you take a bite – you’ll recognize why. See the image of the grilled cheese and rice skewers here.
How to Find These Korean Street Foods (Alone or With a Tour)
Most of the time, you’ll have no trouble finding these Korean street foods, especially at markets. You can either do research and find places or walk around to see stands filling the street.
If you are not confidant in finding all these foods or you want to try others that aren’t listed here, I recommend three delicious korean street food tours in Seoul.
- Try this food tour if you want to experience a Korean barbecue restaurant. You’ll also get to try fried mandu (dumplings) and fried odeng (fish cakes).
- To get a feel of a lively market, hidden alleyways and secret gems, try this food tour. They go to a popular mandu (dumpling) spot that I went to by chance and later on saw in the Korean episode of Street Food on Netflix.
- For an in-depth taste of Korean Fried Chicken combined with the beer drinking culture, check out this food tour.
What to Watch Before Going to Korea
If you want to familiarize yourself a bit on what street food in Korea is going to be like, I highly recommend watching the Korean episode Street Food on Netflix.
This YouTuber actually ate all the Korean street foods mentioned in that post!
You might also like my post on the best things to do in Korea!
I really hope this post helps you try all the mouthwatering Korean street foods. I wish I was going back to Korea to eat with you!
Thanks for making it all the way down to the end of this post. If you found it to be helpful, you might like what I share on my Instagram @sarchetrit. You might like what I post on there too.
Till then, thanks for stopping by, and have a great day!