I think that one of the reasons that people who come to Seoul, or any other city that has a fairly large street-food culture, are fascinated with street food is that it’s not something they see all the time. I definitely fall into this category, since even though there are taco trucks in Los Angeles and I can find a bacon-wrapped hot dog after an LA Galaxy game, I still wouldn’t say that there is a big street food scene in the way that there is in countries that have huge outdoor markets with hundreds and thousands of vendors. I know I was extremely interested in learning about it and tasting at least a few things on my trip to Seoul. I came away with some good food memories and with a few loose guidelines for finding good food in another country. I also got to watch some interesting cooks in action. This post is dedicated to some of the photos of the street vendors that I saw (and ate from).
This woman sold all kinds of dried squid, from huge and thick dried squid leg drumsticks to flat-pressed whole squids and pretty much everything in between. I’m not even sure what some of her items were, but if you wanted some kind of squid, she probably had it.
Both of the guys pictured above sold a variety of fried fish cakes. Some were plain, some had hot dogs in the center, some had hot peppers. These stands were super popular with the younger people I saw out, and had a variety of sauce bottles that you could choose from if you wanted to top off your fried food.
Some of the larger stands sold a little bit of everything. Not my top choice, but still popular with people who didn’t want to shop around for their dinner items of choice.Â Unlike some other vendors, he wasn’t cooking to order and had a lot prepped in advance
I really liked the walnut cakes, which I’ve mentioned before. The guys selling these didn’t hand them out one at a time, but ten or so in a bag, so they were working whether they had a crowd around or not. That said, the cakes smelled amazing so they usually drew in customers whenever they were working on a fresh batch.
This woman was selling something called both custard cakes and custard bread on her signs. The cakes were soft, mildly sweet and smelled just like french toast. They were filled with red bean paste. I have no idea what their “real” name is, but they were pretty good and the woman sold out quickly.
It might not seem like particularly exciting street food, but this guy had set up a row of soft serve machines alongside some stores and stayed out late. He was very popular with the late night crowd, especially since the weather was warm. It didn’t hurt that the ice cream was very good, the servings were huge and the prices were low.
At this table, these guys are cooking up some fried Hotteok, a slightly different version of the Hotteok I tried earlier in the trip. These were cooked on a very well-oiled griddle and really resembled big pancakes. You can clearly see some in the foreground of this shot.