Popular Street Food at Myeongdong Seoul

Seoul Street Food Found at Myeongdong

Apart from indulging in restaurant food, what is a Seoul Food trip without immersing yourself in their street food culture. There are many places that sell street food but my favourite one is at Myeongdong district.

At Myeongdong, you also can find such shop, almost selling every kind of street food

Exit from Myeongdong MRT at Exit 5, 6, 7, 8 and a busy Myeongdong shopping street will be presented right before you. It’s an area where you can find everything you need for skin care and choices of restaurants and cafes are excessive. I do not have the exact location of these street food stalls but just walk around that area. These stalls are not hard to spot.

Click here for my full list of  Seoul Food Itinerary

Such scene is really enticing, especially in a cold weather

Myeongdong – Korean Grilled Cuttlefish

This is one of my favourites. I had it the first time I visited Seoul and i made it a point to come back to the same stall again. At W$4000 (S$4.80), it’s not cheap but still  reasonable for a whole cuttlefish.

The frozen cuttlefish is freshly grilled by pressing it against a top and bottom electric grill. The originally flat cuttlefish is fluffed up after passing through the shredder. The piping-hot shredded cuttlefish is chewy but not rubbery and unlike most dried cuttlefish, the texture is much more enjoyable and is not straining on one’s jaw.

Myeongdong – Steamed Egg Muffin (GyeRan Bbang 계란 빵)

This gotta be the most seductive street food during a cold season. Hot steam is sprouting from the air vent of the pan, keeping the muffin soft and moist.

The cake itself is steaming hot and moist and i love the texture but i thought it is a little lacking in flavor. It’s suppose to be a little sweeter. The egg yolk is fully cooked with no additional flavoring.

Myeongdong – Tteokbokki (떡볶이 Spicy Rice Cake)

Tteokbokki, without doubt is the most popular street food in Seoul. This Korean soft rice cake needs no introduction. Most of them are cooked in spicy sweet sauce and serve in small bowl or cup. Unlike Singapore’s version, Seoul’s version are mostly spicy so do know what to expect. This cost about S$5 even in Singapore’s foodcourt but you can get a portion for less than S$2.00 in Seoul.

Myeongdong – Fries Coated Hot Dog Bun

This is one hell of a street food. It’s a layer of fries, coated on a layer of bread, wrapping itself around a stick of hot dog and topped with Ketchup.

The idea seems sinfully good, but i suggest to eat this only when you are sure it’s freshly fried. Else, the fries exterior will taste rather soggy and greasy and you will end up scrapping away the fries and just finish the dog.

Myeongdong – Eomuk Guk (어묵국 Fish Cake Soup)

This is the best street food during winter season because the stick of fish cake comes with a cup of anchovies soup to warm your body and soul.

The texture of their fish cake is soft and less springy than our Singapore’s version and it’s really tasty. Some people may complain about the MSG in the soup though.

Myeongdong – Dong Pang 동빵 – W$700

Poo pancake (Dong Pang) is very popular in Seoul recently. There was one particular stall that is really popular with really long queues. I saw this similar one at Myeongdong and although it may not be the best, this is pretty good too.

Initially I thought the texture will be similar to the Japanese Pancake (the one on the shape of a fish) but it’s actually more moist and texture is somewhat similar to a sponge cake.

The exterior crust is really crispy and it comes with many flavours like Vanilla, Cheese, Chocolate and Red Bean.

Myeongdong – Hotteok (호떡)

Hoddeok is one of Korea’s most popular street food. It’s freshly press-fried on a frying pan where the exterior is fried to crisp and is sometimes served in a paper cup.

There are a variety of fillings and the most traditional one is made with brown sugar, honey, chopped peanuts, and cinnamon. The paste is soften during the frying process and turn into a flowy semi liquid form. 

Hotteok  is very enjoyable with a crispy exterior with a flavour packed filling. The sweetness is above average though.

Conclusion

I believe what I had tried is only the tip of the ice berg as the variety of their food is just astonishing. Induldging in Seoul’s street food culture is definitely one of my best Seoul experience and will continue to do so when info visit Seoul.

Myeongdong has a diverse range of street food and they only come alive from evening time. Remember to leave some space in your stomach in you are visiting the Myeongdong district.

And for the ladies, remember to bring your shopping bags. The variety of skin care products you can find in Myeongdong is crazy. However please be careful with your belongings as it is really crowded on a weekend evening.

Click here for my full list of  Seoul Food Itinerary

If you are wondering what restaurants are there in Myeongdong, i previously wrote about the famous Myeongdong Gyoja and Yoogane Myeongdong branch.

Gwangjang Traditional Korean Market is another place to experience Seoul’s unique dining culture and they are famous for their Meat Pancake (Bindaetteok 빈대떡)

Come out from Exit 5, 6, 7 and 8 to reach Myeongdong Shopping District

Edae – Grilled Chicken Skewer

Among all street food, this is my favourite. Succulent Grilled Chicken with juicy leek. Read more about this chicken skewer here

Dongdaemum – Omelette toast

This is not found at Myeongdong but it was near to my hostel at Dongdaemun. You can visit this place if you happen to stay around this area.

Every piece of toast and omelette are freshly prepared. A layer of fresh butter is applied onto the hot plate and the bread are toasted over it.

The thick chunky omelette has a mix of carrot, green onion, onion and each piece is meticulously prepared by the lady.

The omelette is finished by sprinkling sugar over it. Trust me. The sugar version is nicer and more unique. I tried both. They are open as early as 6 am in the morning and is still operating at 12 midnight.

Here is the map if you need it:

Other Street Food

Apart from Myeongdong, there is also a good section of Korean Snacks at the food department of Lotte Departmental Store. You may also want to swing by if you are planning to visit them. The selections there are quite amazing as well.

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Gwangjang Market – Embrace the Korean Market culture and Bindaetteok

Gwangjang Traditional Market (광장시장)

Operating hours: 7:00am to 10:00pm

(Hours may vary by store, 10:00am to 9:30 pm for food stalls)

Korean Address (Naver Map): 서울특별시 종로구 예지동 6-1

English Address (Google Map): 6-1 Yeji-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Click here for my list of Seoul food itinerary

Introduction

Gwangjang market was established in 1905, one of the oldest markets in not only Seoul, but the whole of South Korea. This multi-level market has about 5,000 shops and it’s a market that you can find everything, from snacks, traditional Korean food, bags, shoes, Kimchi, exotic seafood to the high-end silk, linen and the legendary Hanbok.

Sampling of Kimchi. No plate, no toothpick, just hand. Point to the Kimchi to try and the lady will just place the kimchi in your hand.

Right at the heart of this market lies the food section that is bursting with activity and loud noise. The steam-filled alley contains countless number of food stalls that offers a vast selections of Korean food like Japchae (당면 sesame oil noodle), Gimbap (김밥 rice roll), Sundae (순대 blood sausage roll), Jokbal (족발 braised pig trotter), Patjuk (팥죽 red bean porridge), and the very well known item in Gwangjang market – Bindaetteok (빈대떡 Mung bean pancake).

Bindaetteok 빈대떡 (W$3000)

Among the food stalls, the one that stood out was those that are selling Bindaetteok, with stacks of towering golden-brown crispy pancakes that are freshly fried and served piping hot.

Bindaetteok is made of grounded mung bean, with bean sprout, green onion, kimchi, and pepper. The mung beans are freshly grinned using a stone rotary grinder and the pancake paste is mixed and fried on the spot.

After some observation, i patronized the stall that is most popular among the locals. Note that there is no restaurant treatment at these stalls and be prepared to sit shoulder-to-shoulder beside a total stranger for the meal. Paper cup and plain water is available and i don’t think that’s bottled water. Probably the stall owner refills them with boiled water.

Among many stalls that are selling Bindaetteok, this is the one with the endless crowd. The stall number appears to be (61) 2263 – 7567. Keep a look out for this stall!

I ordered the veggie version and the meat version, and both are reasonably priced at W$3,000 each. The veggie version is huge, with the diameter of a small pizza and the meat version, going at the same price, is evidently smaller.

As a meat lover, there is no room for competition between the two as the meat pancake wins my favor. It don’t actually taste like a pancake but a giant piece of fried meat ball, only it’s a flattened version. The savory minced meat patty is well marinated and flavored that is not excessively salty. I read that these pancakes are actually flavored using honey and this explains the tinge of sweetness.

Hot & crispy exterior with a tender center. Best street food of the trip!

For the veggie version, it taste a little like our Singapore version of vegetable pancake (菜饼) that’s available in Singapore’s shopping centre, only the filling is fuller. I love the cripsy exterior and the texture is further enhanced by the crunchy bean sprout.

For those who find this veggie version a little plain in taste, grab a saucer and fill it up with their home-made dipping sauce that taste like a combination of rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, a little bit of chilli and slices of onion. Rest assure that after dipping in this sauce, you will finish the pancake in no time!

The stall that sells everything

The best part of visiting such a market is they have stalls that sells basically every kind of traditional Korean food. The blood sausage roll is highly recommended by the friendly Ajumma (middle-age auntie in Korean)  as she kept pointing to the sausage although she can’t converse in English. I declined it politely after seeing the foreign lady beside me struggled to finish it. LOL. I know it’s not as scary as what i thought but i guess i am not very use to the idea of having a blood filled sausage rice roll after all.

Tteokbokki (떡볶이 Spicy Rice Cake) and Gimbap (김밥 Rice Roll)

Gimbap is slightly different from the Japanese version of Maki as the Korean added sesame oil instead of vinegar into the rice. This non-luxury version only comes with pickle, cucumber and carrot which totally works for me. It gives a crunchy texture filled with the fragrance of sesame oil.

The highlight of this Tteokbokki is for it’s sauce. I like it for the fact that it’s flavorful but not overly sweet and cloying unlike some Tteokbokki found in Singapore and this is much spicier than Singapore’s. Though I still prefer a thinner rice cake instead of a thick one like this.

Japchae (잡채 Sesame Oil Noodle)

Japchae is definitely not anything new to anyone as it’s often served as a side dish in Korean restaurant. This japchae was served cold and it does taste like it’s stir-fried using instant chicken cubes, which is nice, but not exactly healthy to have it on a daily basis. I love the generous amount of sesame oil and sesame seed added to this simple and yet delightful dish.

Eomukguk (어묵국 Fish Cake Soup)

Eomukguk is the most popular street food during cold season! It literally means “fish cake soup” as the skewered fish cake comes with a cup/bowl of piping hot anchovy stock.

All these dishes cost me W$11,000 which cost about an average of S$3.00 for each item. It’s slightly more pricey than what i expected. I have a feeling, just a feeling that i had been overcharged. Since i can’t really exactly communicate with the lady, i decided to just pay and forget about it. Since it’s not too much of a money, I don’t think there is a need to confront and haggle with the lady and spoil my day.

Conclusion

Apart from the luxury malls, high-end shopping and five stars hotels, i thought it’s good to experience the unique culture of the nation and visit places that is unmistakeably Korean. And Gwangjang Market is one of such places in Seoul that provides an authentic Korean culture experience. Apart from the food culture, there is so much more to see and experience at Gwangjang Market.

The only thing is, i think there might be a need to exercise caution to prevent from being overcharged like what i might had encountered. Do some basic research especially if you intend to get big ticket item like Ginseng or something that’s is slightly more expensive

As for food wise, if possible, ask for the price before committing to any purchase and if you are still comfortable with the price, go ahead.

Click here for full list of Seoul Food Itinerary

Directions and Maps

I took a photo of this map which gives a much clearer indication of the various alleys in Gwangjang Market and it even has labeling of the various zones in the market.

The nearest station to Gwangjang market is from Jongno 5(o)-ga Station and exit 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 will lead you to the North and East Gate of the market.

The market stretches all the way from Exit 7 to Exit 11 but the food zone is nearest to Exit 9.

Click to enlarge

Mabongnim Halmeoni Tteokbokki – My favourite Seoul eat!

Mabongnim Halmeoni Tteokbokki (마복림할머니떡볶이)

English Address (Google Map): Jung-gu, 33 Cheonggu-ro 10-gil Seoul, South Korea

Korean Address (Naver Map): 서울특별시 중구 청구로10길 33

Opening hours: 8.00am – 9:00pm, Closed 2nd and 4th Monday of the month

Click here for my full Seoul food itinerary

Introduction

Introducing my favorite eat in Seoul – Mabongnim Halmeoni Tteokbokki! Tteokbokki is like the Pad Thai of Bangkok for Seoul. Everyone should try it at least once. Tteokbokki (떡볶이) is so popular in Seoul that they even have a Tteokbokki street that is lined up with restaurants selling Tteokbokki.

It was said that Mabongnim Halmeoni Tteokbokki is the first Tteokbokki shop that sprung up at this street. It brought in so much crowd that other Tteokbokki restaurants started popping up and eventually became the Tteokbokki street today.  This restaurant has been cooking up hot, delicious tteokbokki for over 60 years, ever since it started up in 1953.

The thing I like about Mabongnim Halmeoni Tteokbokki is they start their operation at 8am! As much as possible I always like to plan my food  itinerary in a way that I will avoid dining crowd. I reached here at about 9am and as expected – No crowd! I like their no-menu style of eating when all I need to tell tell them is for how many pax.

Tteokbokki Street lined up with multiple Tteokbokki restaurants

There are additional add-on though, that comes at a price ranging from W$500 to W$2500

떡볶이 (Tteok-bok-ki) – Sticky Rice Cake W$2500
오뎅사리 (O-deng-sa-ri)- Fishcake W$2500
쫄면 (Jjol-myeon) – Korean Sticky Noodle S$1000
라면 (Ra-myeon) – Maggie Noodle W$1500
만두 (Man-du) – Dumpling W$1000
계란 (Gye-ran) – Egg W$500
음 료 수 (Eum-ryo-su) – Beverage W$1500
아이스크림 – Ice Cream W$1000

The price is W$11000 (about S$13.00) for two pax and W$24000 (about S$28.00) for five pax. Isn’t that rather inexpensive considering the quantity of the food? In Singapore’s Korean Restaurant, typically a plate of snack-size Tteokbokki already cost S$12++ ($14 nett).

Tteokbokki

Don’t forget that I am actually having breakfast, the heartiest breakfast for the whole of my Seoul trip! It’s served initially as a clear broth and I am suppose to mix in the paste and stir as it’s brought to boil, then simmer to get a thick Gochujang (고추장) sauce.

Gochujang is a kind of red chili pepper paste. It’s main ingredient consist of starch, salt and red chili pepper powder. Gochujang is used to season and marinate many Korean foods, and is the main seasoning for Tteokbokki and can be bought in supermarket.

I read that Mabongnim Halmeoni Tteokbokki made their own Gochujang sauce as they know how important a good Gochujang is as it will directly affect the quality of Tteokbokki.

Rice Cake and Noodles

Mabongnim Halmeoni’s  Tteok (rice cake) is really my kind of rice cake. It taste very fresh, soft, chewy but yet easily separable without challenging too much of my jaw muscle. But in fact, my favorite is not even the rice cake. My favorite items are the two kinds of noodles – the Ramyeon (라면), or we known it as Maggie mee, and the Jjolmyeon (쫄면). Jjolmyeon is a kind of Korean Noodle that is thick, chewy, that is made of wheat flour and starch.

A closer look at Jjolmyeon and other ingredients

Once the pot of Tteokbokki starts to bubble, I have to stir it often to prevent the rice cakes and noodles from sticking to the bottom. The sauce starts to get thicker and goes from dull red to a bright red-orange color, that’s my cue to turn the heat down and to start eating! I was so overwhelmed by the taste that i actually forgot to take a photo of the thick sauce! =/

The noodles was boiled to softness in the broth which the noodle absorbed the sweet and spicy flavor that made it… I wanted to say “heavenly” but probably I should not raise the bar too high , so I think i shall stick to “an exceptionally enjoyable Maggie mee experience”.

Other Ingredients

Apart from the Tteok, Ramyeon and Jjeolmyeon, vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, onions and green onions are also added. The next best thing is their fried mandu (dumpling). Do not ever eat the mandu before mixing it into the Gochujang. It just taste soggy, a little tasteless but it’s totally different after soaking it in the Gochujang as the sauce seeps into the mandu skin. I mentioned earlier that i did not have any add-on for my Tteokbokki but i can choose again for just one add-on, it will be the fried mandu.

If you like, mash up the eggs and mix them into the sauce as well. The Tteokbokki also comes with a banchan (side dish) of danmuji (단무지), a sweet and sour yellow pickled radish that goes well with the hot, spiciness of Tteokbokki.

Conclusion

By visiting Mabongnim Halmeoni Tteokbokki, i can now really taste the difference between Singapore’s Tteokbokki and Seoul’s. Mabongnim Halmeoni Tteokbokki is much more spicy and flavorful but yet not over-cloying (or “Gelat” as we Singaporean knows it). The least i expect is that we are able to finish the whole pot of Tteokbokki as breakfast!

I have a strong personal liking for Mabongnim Halmeoni Tteokbokki. If not for my already planned itinerary to other restaurants, i would have returned to Mabongnim Halmeoni Tteokbokki a second time.

Click here for full list of Seoul Food Itinerary

Map and Directions

1. Exit from Exit 1 of Cheonggu Station and walk straight to the right.

2. Turn right again when you arrive at the playground and go straight for 200m.

3. You should arrive at a street with many restaurants and there you are – you are at the Tteokbokki Street.