Korean and food are two of my favorite words, and if you combine these two words, you have one of the tastiest cuisines in the world. Growing up in a Korean household, I’ve always wanted to know what it felt like to go to Korea. When I visited Korea a couple of years ago, I wanted to make sure that I left satisfied and knowing that I had the full experience.
After my visit to Korea, I tried eating Korean food again, but it just wasn’t the same. If you don’t have the resources to travel all the way to Korea, then you should hit up Korea Way in New York City or Koreatown in Los Angeles to have a similar experience.
I’m not bashing on Korean restaurants in America, but I’m just saying that if you want to have a truly authentic Korean experience, then you need to experience the street food in Korea. If you do find yourself abroad, you have to experience authentic street food. Here are five to try.
Fish Bread (Boongeubbang)
As you stumble through the streets of Korea and feel like you’re about to collapse into a food coma, you catch a whiff of a sweet smell. The sweet smell lures you to see what looks like dough stamped with a fish print. This pastry is called boongeubbang.
Boongeubbang is a sweet pastry filled with red beans and it’s heavenly. You might be wondering why red beans are placed inside of a pastry, but trust me, red beans are the sweet Korean equivalent to sprinkles. Most desserts in Korea will come with red bean.
Fish Cakes (Odeng)
I don’t know how they make these fish cakes it but once you take a bite out of it, you’ll realize it’s sweet with a hint of fishiness. When you go up to the vendor, they’ll hand you odeng on a stick and a cup of odeng soup. The Odeng soup is really what gives the fish cake most of its flavor. After you drink the odeng soup, you’ll feel so warm and fuzzy inside that you will forget how you got there.
Mini Kimbap (Mayak kimbap)
Kimbap, which is basically a Korean twist on sushi, is a Korean staple. People eat it for a meal, a snack and with their ramen. Koreans have eaten this sushi roll filled with rice, horseradish, carrots and imitation crab for decades, but recently mini kimbap has made an appearance in the street food scene. Pop a couple of these mini kimbaps into your mouth and you will be more than content.
Fried Foods (Teegueem)
If you’re cheating on your diet and want something unhealthy, you need to have a fried food platter. Yes, you heard me right; in Korea, you can go to a street vendor and just ask for a plate of fried food. The Korean street vendors will most likely give you fried dumplings, fried octopus, fried potatoes, fried shrimp and other delicacies. Most Korean food is super healthy, so try this if you need some grease in your life.
Spicy Rice Cakes (Ddeukbokki)
Koreans love spicy foods ranging from mild to very hot, such as Kimchi or Shin ramen. One of Korea’s most famous spicy foods is ddeukbokki, or spicy rice cakes. You’ve probably had a sweet rice cake but Koreans took that concept and decided to make it spicy because why not? Usually, I’m not the biggest fan of spicy foods, but I eat ddeeukbokki because I love the chewiness of the rice cake and it keeps me warm when I’m eating outside in the cold.