Korean Street Food is becoming insanely popular internationally nowadays. In nearly every large city you’ll see vendors selling Korean potato hot dogs, Tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes, often served with large amounts of cheese) and much more. You might be wondering - what caused this sudden interest in Korean Street Food?
Korean food was once regarded as something healthy and wholesome, thanks to the “Kimchi Craze” that swept America. Michelle Obama was famed for making the hard to master dish herself! Other than Kimchi, Korean food wasn’t well-known except for maybe Bibimbap (A rice bowl with vegetables, meat and egg) and Bulgogi (marinated beef) - both enjoyed moderate fame. These were all traditional Korean dishes, however, and Korean Street Food remained little known.
What Made Korean Street Food So Popular?
Around 2015, Korean Street Food started really taking off because of Hallyu, the force driving hordes of K-pop and K-drama fans to taste authentic Korean Street Food. Depictions of tasty Korean food that the main characters of a K-drama gobbled up left many hungry K-Drama fans drooling on their screens, wanting to get a taste. This, together with the “Mukbangs” - Korean food eating shows which are everywhere on YouTube, it comes as no surprise that Korean Street Food would become popular.
Korean idols have been vocal about their food preferences, which fueled the craze for Korean food even more. In interviews, idols often mention their favorite kind of Korean food. For example, Mark of NCT’s favorite food is Korean fried chicken and BTS member, J-hope’s favorite food is Kimchi Fried Rice. It’s only logical that avid fans of either member would inevitably take an interest in these foods and want to try them out!
Types of Korean Street Food
Some of the most traditional Korean Street Food that has been around for a long time include:
- Hotteok - A hot, crispy and chewy donut filled with honey and nuts
- Bungeoppang - Sweet bread that is usually shaped like a fish and filled with a red bean or cream paste and even ice cream
- Dakgangjeong - Sweet & spicy fried chicken bites
- Odeng or Eomuk Tang - Fish cake sheets that are conveniently served on long skewers with hot broth served separately in a cup
In recent times, Korean street food has become modernised and fused with a number of different cultures. A classic case of Korean street fusion food would be the aforementioned tteokbokki with cheese, where the spiciness of the tteokbokki meets with the fatty goodness of the cheese to create a combination that melts in your mouth. More examples of these more modernised types of Korean street food include:
- Pronto Pups/Korean Corndogs - Hot dogs coated with sweet batter/potatoes/etc., stuffed with sausages or cheese, and fried.
- Kimchi Cheese Fries - Savory kimchi, with cheese and fries.
- Cream Waffles - waffles with an ungodly amount of cream.
- Bulgogi Rice Burgers - Burgers, but with molded rice as the “bun”, vegetables, and Bulgogi as the patty.
Where To Get Korean Street Food
If you want to get a taste of authentic Korean Street Food, of course the best way would obviously be to travel to Korea and scout out some of the popular areas (Hongdae is a good place to start!) However, if travel overseas is tricky then many local Korean supermarkets or even Korea Town areas nearby will carry some of the foods mentioned in this article.
If these options are not available and you're a cookbook collector or like to write down recipes that you find online, the following books are a great resource:
What Korean street foods did we miss that you have enjoyed? Please comment below and let us know.Related Products