One of my favorite things to do when traveling is to eat. In fact, it’s probably one of the top reasons I decide to travel to certain countries over others. As someone who’s usually traveling on a budget and likes getting a taste of local culture, you’ll often find me passing over Michelin dinners in favor of roaming the streets for all things cheap, quick, and delicious. In terms of street food, South Korea does not disappoint.

Korean Tteokbokki 떡볶이 in Seoul, Korea
My greatest love

1. Tteokbokki 떡볶이

As ubiquitous in the Korean food scene as a slice of pizza is in America. You can’t walk ten steps without running into a vendor tossing these chewy rice cakes around in a giant vat of spicy red sauce. You can order a cup to-go for as little as $3.

Korean Gimbap (Kimbap) 김밥 in Seoul, Korea
Korea’s version of sushi

2. Gimbap 김밥

Also spelled “kimbap”, this dish is essentially the Korean version of a sushi roll. The two major differences are that 1.) the rice is made with sugar and sesame oil instead of vinegar, and 2.) there’s no raw fish involved. You’ll find it not only in street stands, but in convenience stores and restaurants as well.

Korean Hotteok 호떡 in Seoul, Korea

3. Hotteok 호떡

This was one of my favorite things while traveling in South Korea. It’s a sweet pancake filled with brown sugar, honey, spices, and nuts, then fried in piping hot oil. #drool

Korean Sundae (Soondae) 순대 Blood Sausage in Seoul, South Korea
Oh, how I swoon

4. Sundae 순대

Another favorite! Sundae is Korean blood sausage, and I promise it’s not nearly as gross as it sounds. It tastes like a soft, spongy, pork sausage stuffed with cellophane noodles. Many vendors serve it with extra goodies on the side like pig ear, lung, liver, and so on.

Korean Odeng 어묵(오뎅 in Seoul, South Korea
Cozy, cozy odeng

5. Odeng 어묵(오뎅

Fish cake on a stick. They come in an endless number of shapes and sizes and are sold for dirt cheap. You’ll also get a cup of the soup that they’re boiled in when you order one. A perfect snack for winter.

Korean Pajeon 파전 in Seoul, South Korea
Pancakes > everything

6. Pajeon 파전

Large, fried, savory pancakes. This is another dish that can be found either on the street or in a restaurant. The most popular variations include seafood pajeon, kimchee pajeon, and mungbean pajeon.

Korean Rice Cake Cheese in Seoul, South Korea
Whoever invented this is my hero

7. Grilled Rice Cakes & Cheese

So simple, yet so brilliant. They stack rice cakes and mozzarella sticks on top of one another, grill them to perfection, then drizzle the entire thing in sweetened condensed milk. If you’ve never had grilled rice cakes before, you’re in for a treat.

Korean Bbopki 뽑기 in Seoul, South Korea
Tasty AND adorable

8. Bbopki 뽑기

Sugar candy! Another simple and cheap snack, perfect for when you’re craving something sweet after dinner. Liquid sugar is poured onto a hot stovetop and cooked until crispy and brown. Each cookie is usually decorated with a fun shape in the center.

Korean Jajangmyeon 자장면 in Seoul, South Korea
I just made you hungry, didn’t I?

9. Jajangmyeon 자장면

A heaping pile of thick noodles, drowning in a gravy-like black bean sauce. You’ll find bits of pork and vegetables thrown in as well. Order a big bowl for take-out or sample a smaller portion from a street vendor.

Korean Fried Crab
Crispy, crunchy, saucy

10. Fried Crab

These tiny soft-shell crabs are coated in batter, fried, and served in a cup for easy snacking. They usually come topped with sweet chili sauce.

KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) 닭 튀김 in Seoul, South Korea
I miss this :c

11. KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) 닭 튀김

I read once that Seoul had more “Chicken & Beer” places than there are McDonald’s in the world. While I highly doubt the validity of this statement, it’s true that Koreans love their fried chicken. If you’re craving some KFC and don’t want to spring for the mountain of chicken that restaurants usually serve, head to a street stall for a snack-size portion.

Korean Pig's Feet 족발 in Seoul, South Korea
Just look at it glisten

Pig’s Feet 족발

Another sounds-weird-but-tastes-delicious kind of dish. These little trotters are fatty, porky, and unbelievably tasty. You can find several stalls selling them at Namdaemun Market, or ladies serving them alongside sundae at Gwangjang Market.

Do you have a favorite street snack from a trip abroad? Share below! And don’t forget to subscribe for updates, free goodies, and a hand-curated list of travel inspiration send straight to your inbox every week!

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