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Street food scenes from Seoul

Seoul Street scene

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).

Dried squid vendor

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.

Street food vendor frying up fish cakes

frying fish cakes

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.

Handing out street 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.  Unlike some other vendors, he wasn’t cooking to order and had a lot prepped in advance

Walnut cake vendor

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.

Custard cake vendor

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.

Soft Serve street food!

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.

Fried Hotteok makers

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.

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  • lisa
    October 8, 2009

    Oh my !! I am korean and I miss all this foods you had in the street!! DDuk bok ki is my favorit!! at winter it’s the best food ever. I hope you enjoyed the trip and also taste of korea.!!

  • Heather Lee
    October 8, 2009

    I love your posts on Korean street food! I miss Seoul so much! Have you found the vendor with fish shaped dough with red bean paste inside? (I cannot remember the korean name)They are absolutely wonderful. Oh and Korean shaved ice (ppa bingsu) is always fun. I agree with Lisa, dduk bok ki is definitely the best. Thanks for the great pics and posts!

  • dawn
    October 9, 2009

    I wonder if you could tell which hot sauce was hot or not? I mean there are so many, and I’m sure they have the really ot stuff there. Love this post!

  • C(h)ristine
    October 9, 2009

    I love reading about your trip and love the posts! (Heather is referring to boong-uh-bbang, which translates to “fish shaped bread.”) Dduk bok ki is my favorite street food of all time, closely followed by a kazillion other things. I used to spend summers in Seoul when I was in high school and college, you’re bringing back excellent memories, and reminding me that it’s time for me to go visit again.

  • weeks
    October 10, 2009

    ha ))

  • Craig David
    October 12, 2009


  • stroy
    October 13, 2009

    “good post”

  • Мастер
    October 17, 2009

    Ну жесть конечно…

  • Annette
    January 26, 2011

    Looking for a name or a recipe of a street-food from Seoul, it’s like a Twinkie like cake stuffed with boiled egg. Can anyone help?

  • Round ‘em up, 18 October
    October 19, 2009

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