Trying local foods from a particular culture or region is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the destination. Tasting local street food is especially valuable; it’s a social and cultural endeavor. It's the versatile delicacies made on the streets that genuinely help us both experience a destination and preserve precious culinary tradition and culture.
We say "street food," and in South Korea, they call it gilgeori eumsik (길거리 음식).
Korean dishes and flavors dominate many directions in culinary fusion (you must have seen a Korean version of many familiar dishes by now); Korean BBQ, and bulgogi, kimchi, Korean fried chicken are getting more and more popular. But let's not forget the versatile and mind-blowingly delicious Korean street food that holds a special place in Korean cuisine.
Why is Korean food Popular?
Korean food is now one of the main components of the Korean Wave, or “Hallyu,” - the global boom in Korean pop culture that started with music and TV dramas. And even if you are not a fan of BTS or the new Netflix hit show "Squid game,” you gotta admit that Korean cuisine deserves all the praise and recognition it's been recently getting.
Street food is a huge part of Korean culture. If you have ever been to South Korea, you know that there are many street vendors offering the most delicious kinds of street foods to enjoy on the go. Seoul's world-famous Gwangjang Market brings together infinite food stalls with all sorts of local dishes cooked late into the night.
Luckily, you no longer have to travel to Seoul to experience the joys of Korean cuisine and the magic of its street food variety. Let’s look at some popular dishes and delicious Korean street food recipes you can make at home.
Get a taste of Korea, and don't wait to show off your Korean cuisine skills and impress your friends and family by taking some time to make these delicious street foods you can delight in for days—and share with everyone.
Tteokbokki literally translates to "spicy rice cakes.” It is the number one fundamental street food in South Korea. Tteokbokki is a snack-like sweet and classic spicy treat that everybody loves.
The spicy and chewy rice cakes are stir-fried in gochujang chili paste sauce are often served with boiled eggs and garnished with green onions. It's a popular dish all year round, but in wintertime, when the temperature in Seoul drops way below 30 degrees F, tteokbokki tastes even more delightful.
It's not uncommon to see people lining up in front of one specific ajumma (Korean for "auntie") "Tteokbokki Lady" street stall after hours, waiting to enjoy the delicious snack after hours of drinking.
You can make tteokbokki at home and enjoy this Korean street food staple whenever you want! Try this recipe for Spicy Korean Rice Cakes:
Or checkout tteokbokki cousin Tteokkochi (fried rice cakes on skewers) recipe:
Unless you've been living under a rock, you have already heard of the international sensation that Dalgona candy turned into, thanks to the popular Netflix show "Squid Game.”
Korean Dalgona honeycomb toffee, aka ppopgi, is a vintage street food sweet treat first created after the Korean War. Melting sugar with water and adding baking soda causes a reaction making it foam up and turn into a spongy and crunchy honeycomb-like candy. Dalgona candy was often served on a stick and decorated with an imprint of cute shape using a cookie cutter.
The trendy Dalgona Coffee drink got its name from the Korean street food snack. Back in 2020, famous South Korean actor Jung Il-woo ordered the whipped coffee drink at a cafe in Macao and said it reminded him of the taste of dalgona candy. The clip of this historic culinary event went viral on YouTube, and the name "Dalgona coffee" became instantly popularized. Now you can find many dalgona flavored foods like ice cream, milkshakes, and even Dalgona Tiramisu.
Dalgona candy is probably the easiest dish you can make off this street food recipe list. It is essentially a basic honeycomb recipe involving two ingredients.
So if you'd like to try out the Squid Game Dalgona challenge or just have some fun recreating a nostalgic Korean snack ppopgi, here's how you do it.
Korean street toast is fast, delicious, and perfect to have on the go for breakfast or lunch. It is a sweet and salty omelet sandwich many street vendors specialize in - one of the Korean dishes that makes many locals reminisce of childhood and early morning rushed breakfasts.
Gilgeori toast is made using butter, mayo, ketchup, white sandwich bread, egg omelet, and a mix of vegetables. It is common to sprinkle the street toast with both salt and sugar.
Make Korean gilgeori toast for your next breakfast on the go using our quick and easy recipe.
Kimbap is sometimes referred to as the Korean version of Japanese sushi rolls; it is probably one of the most known Korean snacks. It is made with steamed rice and dried seaweed (nori), similar to sushi, but the rice for kimbap is usually sweeter and seasoned with sesame oil instead of rice vinegar. There are many varieties and many fillings, but one of the ingredients is almost always some kind of a pickled vegetable, like daikon radish or kimchi.
Try making Kimbap at home following this simple recipe.
Japchae is a classic sweet and savory Korean food made with stir-fried dangmyeon glass noodles and a mix of vegetables. Japchae is often topped with beef slices, egg, carrots, mushrooms, or spinach.
These stir-fried glass noodles are not only a popular street food you can find at many street stalls, but it is also a beloved Korean dish served on special occasions. Depending on extra ingredients and toppings, japchae can be both the main dish and a side.
Make Korean Japchae Stir-Fried Glass Noodles at home using this recipe.
Haemul Pajeon is a delicious savory scallion pancake often made with seafood—one of the most popular grab-and-go street foods you can find in Korea.
It is also a typical household dish often shared at a family gathering.
This Haemul Pajeon recipe can be easily made at home using a mix of assorted seafood of your choice (such as squid, shrimp, mussels, oysters, and clams).
You might have seen a viral video of this mouthwatering Korean street food being made by one of the street vendors of Seoul. The Korean version of cream cheese garlic bread is so damn good; you can almost taste and smell it as you watch the video (brace yourself).
It has every perfect ingredient you can think of to combine with bread: butter, garlic, cream cheese, and eggs.
It is absolutely worth your time to recreate this decadent street food recipe in your kitchen. If you don't want to invest in making the bread for it from scratch, you can also use any store-bought kind you prefer.
If you love the amazing flavors of Korean cuisine, find more Korean food recipes here: