I haven’t talked a lot about food yet on here, and I think it’s about time I started. Seoul is a food city. The number of restaurants per block is staggering. It also seems to be an “eating out” culture, so to speak. Eating at restaurants is almost as cheap, if not cheaper, than buying food and cooking it. Of course, there are the higher end restaurants as well, but you can find a good meal for 3000 won.
But one of my favorite ways to eat is street food. There are loads of street vendors in Seoul selling every type of food imaginable from the back of vans, trucks, booths, and tents. It usually comes on a stick or in bag, but it’s almost always delicious. And cheap. Most street food costs between 1000 and 2000 won. In certain parts of Seoul, there are rows and rows of street vendors. I’ve been trying a lot of it. Here are 5 street foods that I’ve tried so far. For this list, I’ve tried to select 5 common street foods that I’ve had. Maybe in the future I’ll document some of the stranger meats and mysteries on the streets of Seoul.
These rice cakes (seen on the right of the picture) seem to be the most popular street food in Seoul. Adored by children, it seems like almost every vendor has a vat of these long, thin, white rice bites simmering in a mild red sauce. They’re very chewy, and the sauce gives them most of their flavor, but the texture and some indescribable attribute make them very enticing. These are sometimes served in my school for lunch. When they are, the kids go nuts – I relate it to chicken nugget day at an American school. For a few thousand won you can get a small tub of these babies and a toothpick.
ROASTED MEAT ON A STICK
The picture tells you just about everything you need to know about this entry. Although there are many different varieties of meats on sticks in Seoul, this one, sold by a certain vendor in Myeongdong, is my favorite. The plump, glistening muscle of meat is enough to make you drool like a toddler. And two of them (meats 2 and 4 in the picture) are wrapped in, you guessed it, rice cakes. The succulence of this carnivorous delight is not to be understated. Props to Dan on introducing me to this street vendor. I’m sure I’ll be back whenever I feel like tearing into some roasted meats.
DRIED, BUTTERED SQUID
Mmm, mounds of squid tentacles. For those of you who like seafood, your tastes are well represented in many street food saturated areas. When you order a cup of squid, pictured above, the street vendor first warms them up for you, like so:
After that, they throw the appendages in a bag and you’re good to go. The best way I can describe this particular food is to say it tastes like squid jerky, if you can imagine such a thing. Tough and chewy with a slight buttery taste, I really enjoyed my serving of dried squid.
There was other seafood, but it was harder to identify. If you look closely in the first picture, on the right you can see single long tentacles being sold, like mutated churros. I’m not that brave. Yet.
I’m not sure if Deli Manjoo is the name of this snack, but it appears on every bag, regardless of where you buy them from. This is another very common treat, and although they are usually sold in subway stations, I’m still labeling them as street food. You can see they are shaped like miniature corns, but don’t be fooled – they taste nothing like maize. The warm outer cake is filled with a sweet delicious goo, like a hot miniature jelly doughnut. The first time I saw these they were being made by a machine that looked like a mold-a-rama at Brookfield Zoo.
Most of the slots are empty, as you can see, because people buy these things hot off the line as if the stock market just opened. Okay, maybe that’s exaggerated, but I would push a baby out of the way for a bag of these jewels.
CORN DOGS WRAPPED IN FRENCH FRIES
Just when you thought America had perfected greasy globs of fat-saturated deliciousness, Korea wraps a corn dog in french fries and tosses it in a deep fryer. I included this one mainly for novelties sake to show that a taste of home is never that far away. It’s fairly easy to imagine how this tastes, so I won’t elaborate with such details. I prefer mine with a line of catsup.