South Korea is home to one of the world’s most diverse and acquired cuisines that not only warms the hearts of locals and travelers alike but also fills their stomachs. Even though Seoul showcases many globalized delicacies, the traditional favorites are loved the most. From twigim (튀김), or assorted fried foods, to naengmyeon (냉면), or cold noodles (great for the summer!) and kimchi jeon (김치전), or kimchi pancakes– the options are infinite! The list of restaurants and corners to find authentic Korean street food are endless, so here are a few of our favorite and unique places to start!
Why Korean Street Food is so Popular in Seoul
Korean street food offers a wide variety of delicious and unique dishes, ranging from savory to sweet, and from spicy to mild. Some of the most popular street food items include tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), odeng (fish cakes), and hotteok (sweet pancakes). All this can eaten for less than 10,000 won! This makes it a great option for those on a budget or for those who just want to try many different types of Korean street food.
Street food is widely available and can be found in many different locations throughout Seoul. It is a common destination for those partying late into the night. Many street food dishes are made fresh and to order, ensuring that they are always served hot and delicious.
Our Recommended Street Food Markets
Named Seoul’s Lunchbox Market, Tongin Market houses over 70 stores ranging from clothing to food. How you buy and receive your food separates this market from the rest. You exchange your ₩ for Joseon Dynasty money (YeoJeon). With those coins, you’re given a lunchbox tray to fill up with various street foods from participating vendors. One stall here is famous for its tteokbokki (떡볶이), spicy rice cakes, and has been serving its customers since 1956! You can find gyreran-mari (계란마리), egg-rolled omelet and sundae (순대), or blood sausages here as well.
Located in the traditional Seochon Village, a four-minute walk from Gyeongbokgung Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 2 will take you to the market’s grand entrance!
This market is one of Korea’s biggest and oldest markets– and popular nonetheless. They say if you have to choose one market to try here in Seoul, it’s this one. Here you can find a variety of traditional Korean street food like gejang (게장), marinated raw crab, bindae-tteok (빈대떡), or mungbean pancakes, and mayak kimbap (마약 김밥), or “drug” kimbap! Plus, many stands sell some of Seoul’s best Korean side dishes. Aside from that, you can also find clothes, electronics, shoes, and much more! One stall here has been featured on the Netflix show Street Food and is famous for its mandu (만두), or dumplings and kalguksu (갈국수), bingsu, or hand-pulled noodles!
Located near Euljiro 4 (sa)-ga Subway Station, Exit 4 is a short walk that will take you to Gwangjang Market!
Mangwon Market is a long street that houses a wide variety of food vendors left and right! Even though this market is not as popular as its other counterparts, it is a local favorite. Aside from the typical Korean delicacies you can find here, this market is most popular for its variety of dakgangjeong (닭강정) or Korean fried chicken. There are multiple stalls where you can find different flavored 닭강정– from cheese sauce to fruit-flavored ones. You can also find a lot of banchan (반찬), side dishes and tteok (떡), or rice cakes here!
The market is in the neighborhood of Mapo-gu. Located near Mangwon Subway Station, getting to Mangwon Market will be a breeze– you can’t miss it!
This is the city’s largest and oldest market dating all the way back to 1414. A multitude of different vendors and merchants stretch across many blocks. This is a great place to scour for all kinds of Korean street food due to its expansive inventory. It is common to become overwhelmed due to how big and diverse the market is, but an important thing to note is that it never closes! You heard that right, it’s open 24/7. You have all the time in the world to hit all of its 10,000 shops and vendors. You can find many Korean regional cuisines in one place!
Located in Jung-gu between Seoul Subway Station and Seoul Plaza, right next to the 14th-century gate, which is considered South Korea’s first national treasure! You’re sure to spot the entrance!
Seoul Bamdokkaebi Night Market in Dongdaemun
Located at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza is the Bamdokkaebi Night Market. Open on Friday and Saturday nights, a total of six markets are located all around Seoul, with different styles and amazing food illuminating the area! This popular tourist attraction houses food trucks selling food from around the world! It’s easy to indulge in the chaos of things, but don’t worry! That’s how you tend to find the most interesting and eye-catching things. You’re sure to leave with a happy and full stomach!
This night market is located in the heart of Dongdaemun; you’ll want to head towards the Dongdaemun Design Plaza from the Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Subway Station, Exit 1. From there, head towards the rows and rows of colorful food trucks– and if you can’t find it, you’ll probably smell it first!
Tips to Remember When Going “Market Hopping” in Seoul
- Most markets don’t use debit/credit cards; bringing cash is highly recommended.
- Bring reusable bags if you go shopping to carry all your goods.
- Take your time to look at each stall, corner, store, and crevice as you might find yourself a hidden gem.
- Be open to trying new foods! Eating is a unique experience– don’t take it for granted. Who knows, you just might like it.
- You won’t find Michelin Star restaurants around these markets, so bring cash.