12 local street snacks you have to eat in South Korea

Singaporeans’ favourite activity is probably eating, and that is undoubtedly one of the best things do in South Korea. Home of our favourite army stew and samgyetang, Korea also has another delicious cuisine that you can’t miss: street food!

At almost every corner of the street and within subway stations, you will find carts and stalls selling delicious street food. You’ll surely be spoilt for choice, so we share the top 12 you should spend your calories on:

1. Tteokbokki (rice cakes) with cheese

Everyone knows that you can’t miss out on tteokbokki (Korean rice cakes) in Korea, but have you heard of eating tteokbokki and baked cheese on a skewer?

This popular snack is chewy, thanks to the thick slice of cheese sandwiched between each tteokbokki. It’s a sinful snack that you definitely have to check out, especially if you love everything with cheese!

Recommended spot: Myeongdong shopping street

2. Gyeranppang (egg muffins)

Source: Avitania Satari Bronstein

Gyeranppang literally translates to ‘egg bread’, and this snack is as literal as the name sounds. It is an oblong golden muffin with a moist whole egg baked on top with parsley, and some variations include pumpkin seeds.

This dense and comforting street snack is both savoury and sweet – you will absolutely love eating this in winter.

Recommended spot: Sinchon, Myeongdong shopping street

3. Yangnyeom (seasoned) chicken with rice cakes

Source: Miss Abroad

Another must-try in Korea is KFC. No, not that KFC – we are referring to Korean Fried Chicken! You can’t get far in Korea without the delicious smell of fried chicken stopping you in your tracks.

What is truly unique about Korean chicken? The seasoning, a sweet and spicy red sauce which is said to be so popular that the issue of who created it was brought to court. Pair this with some tteokbokki for extra chewiness, and you get a snack that you can’t get enough of.

Recommended spot: Hongdae, Myeongdong shopping street

4. Tornado potato

You may recognise this as one of the most iconic Korean street snacks around. It was originally created by Jeong Eun Suk, who was working at Agricultural Hoeori Inc, and it soon became one of the most popular snacks that is eaten everywhere, from trade fairs, and festivities, to parties.

In essence, a tornado potato is a whole potato wound around a skewer and then splashed, dipped, and decorated with different seasonings. Some common seasonings include cheese, BBQ, honey, chili lime, ranch, sour cream & onion seasoning, and garlic parmesan.

Recommended spot: Myeongdong shopping street

5. Goguma mattang (candied sweet potatoes)

Source: Freepik

Mattang originated in China, and the Koreans adopted this caramelisation technique for what is possibly their favourite carb – goguma (sweet potatoes). The deep-fried sweet potatoes are coated with caramelized sugar, making for a snack that’s crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, and irresistibly sweet throughout!

The locals also consume these sweet potatoes as anju (side dish for alcoholic beverages), so you should definitely buy a serving of this with your soju.

Recommended spot: Myeongdong shopping street

6. Omelette pancake

Source: Daniel Food Diary

This snack looks just as Instagrammable as it is delicious. It is typically made from fried pork belly or chicken with cabbage, wrapped in a pancake, and always topped with a sunny side up.

Most of the stall owners are very generous with the amount of ingredients they put in your pancake, so this could even make for a meal on its own!

Recommended spot: Myeongdong shopping street

7. Strawberry mochi

Source: Jandy Jean

Although you may better associate mochi with the Japanese, this strawberry version is ubiquitous in Korean street food stalls. While the reason why is not exactly clear, we surely aren’t complaining about being able to easily get our hands on this tasty snack.

The mochi is filled with red bean and strawberry, and brushed with powdered sugar. What is really special about this is that they use a WHOLE Korean strawberry in each mochi, and Korean strawberries are famous for being sweet, juicy, and big. Some tourists even buy a few of these back home because they get so addicted to this snack, which they can’t find back at home.

Recommended spot: Myeongdong shopping street

8. Eomuk (fish cakes)

Source: 10 Magazine

Eomuk (or odeng) is processed fish cake made with pureed fish and other ingredients. During winter, you will find many people buying skewered eomuk simmered in a light savoury broth at street food carts and stalls in Korea.

If you are looking for the best eomuk in all of Korea, you will have to head to Busan. Thanks to its seaside locale, Busan’s eomuk is made from possibly the freshest ingredients. You will find eomuk that is made from the offcuts of white fish, transformed into various shapes and guises, and featuring ingredients such as cheese!

Recommended spot: Samjin Eomuk

9. Soondae (blood sausages)

Source: Living Nomads

Soondae is one street food that you either love or hate. Popular in both North and South Korea, this street snack can be made with squid and other protein-rich ingredients, but in its most popular form, it is made by mixing pork blood with cellophane noodles and glutinous rice.

You can either buy this on a skewer, or buy a packet of it steamed and served with steamed offals such as gan (liver) and heopa (lung).

Recommended spot: Gwangjang Market

10. Hotteok (sweet pancakes)

Source: Korea Tourism Organization

Hotteok were introduced by Chinese immigrants in the early 1900s in Korea, and are now a popular winter snack. Typically, they are stuffed with dark brown sugar, cinnamon powder & some grounded nuts or seeds, but in recent times savoury style pancakes (vegetable, kimchi, etc.) are also available.

While you can find this being sold at the markets in Seoul, one of the most famous stalls is in Busan. Ssiat Hotteok always sports long queues, thanks to the many locals who also want a taste of this pancake.

Recommended spot: Busan BIFF Square

11. Bungeoppang (fish-shaped waffles)

Source: Hedonist

Similar in appearance to the Japanese taiyaki, some people describe bungeoppang as a mix of Western waffles and Eastern dumplings. Stuffed with sweetened red bean paste, this fish-shaped waffle is another street food that is highly popular during the cold winter season.

Exactly how well-loved is this snack in Korea? Enthusiasts nationwide have even made a “bungeoppang map”, where users mark stalls’ locations with brief reviews, prices and opening hours, and share details on the best bungeoppang!

Recommended spot: Myeongdong shopping street

12. Beondegi (roasted silkworm pupae)

Source: World Food Guide

Despite looking and sounding a little peculiar for most taste buds, this snack is surprisingly popular and can be found throughout most Korean cities. The silkworm pupae are typically boiled with sugar and soy. Those who have tried this say that the pupae have a bit of a fishy, nutty flavour.

Although some people are love this from the first bite, many people find beondegi to be an acquired taste. It first became popular as a wartime food during the Korean War, since its excellent nutritional value and wide availability were helpful to people in need of a stable supply of protein. Hence, you will find that this is more popular among the older generation.

Recommended spot: Namdaemun Market, Gwangjang Market