As much as I hate to admit it , I haven’t been that adventurous when it comes to Korean food. I found a few favorites and have been faithfully living off of those for the last few months. One of the goals I set for Seoul was to try any and everything that looked good. And I think I succeeded .
The best thing about Seoul was the street food. In every area of the city, you could walk down any street and instantly be surrounded by the scent of overflowing carts full of sticky desserts, steaming meats, and pots bubbling full of Korean national dishes.
After an afternoon at Gyeongbokgung Palace, I ventured outside and discovered a flea market taking place in the neighboring plaza. Succumbing to curiosity , I walked over to discover that -instead of the antiques I anticipated – the many booths were full of food.
There were hot foods as well as bagged candies and delicacies. I ventured to one of the booths with a crowd and was greeted by a woman making one of Korea’s most popular foods-hoddeok.
I watched the woman go on about her work; dipping a ladle into a container full of yellow dough with brown flakes. Once the dough started to sizzle on the hot plate and the smell filled the air, I realized it was cinnamon. The woman used a silver instrument to press on the dough until it was perfectly rounded and the cinnamon was gooey . Finally , she folded one into a dixie cup and handed it to me. I got a bite of the runny cinnamon with the first bite and it paired perfectly with the crunchy outside. It was delicious – so delicious that I burned the roof of my mouth -several times- because I just couldn’t wait for it to cool.
Even though the Hoddeok was beyond tasty , I needed actual food to power my exploring. I found a larger meal outside of Seoul’s Dong Station. There are about a dozen tents lining one of the entrances and they were all converted into makeshift restaurants. The one I chose had a giant stove in the middle, metal tables surrounding it on three sides and little stools stationed around them. I got a plate of dukbokki (spicy rice cakes in a red pepper sauce) and a small bowl of minty soup for 3 US dollars. Thankfully, the dukbokki wasn’t as spicy as others I have tasted in the past. Even so , it was flavorful and filled me up .
The next dinner was bit more conventional. It was nearing midnight in Hongdae and store fronts were quickly going dark. I turned into the first restaurant I saw and found myself in tiny restaurant called Oodles of Noodles. The smiling man behind the counter directed me towards a machine in the corner. I ordered and payed for my entire meal using the machine and soon after was served Pad Thai and a side of shrimp and cream egg rolls . There was nothing special about the Pad Thai but it did taste great on an empty stomach. The eggs rolls, however, were amazing. Cream cheese and shrimp rolled into an egg roll doesn’t sound that appetizing but trust me -it is.
Last but not least- I finally had the courage to try the infamous Korean corn dog. I’m not big on hotdogs at home but luckily these were different- the breading is soft and flaky. Actually, it looks remarkably like Frosted Flakes. After handing over 1 won ( 1 USD ) the vender topped it with ketchup and some slightly spicy yellow sauce. It was so good I had to grab another for the bus ride home.
Any other Korean foods I should try ?
- Solo Weekend in Seoul: Exploring (thepinkexpat.com)