The Kimchi-ite: 8 Delicious Street Food Dishes Of South Korea


Any trip to Korea is absolutely incomplete without dipping under a steamy street-side tent to eat some mystery food, preferably late at night. Street food is extremely popular in Korea. Not in the same way as Twitter-enabled, grilled-cheese food-trucks that are growing with momentum in the U.S., but instead in a much more homey, down-to-earth way. Some foods have their gimmicks, but most of it is classic Korean food.

Carts like the one seen above are a staple of everyday Korean life. I see close to a dozen on my 20-minute walk to work. Called pojangmacha, or just pocha for short, appropriately meaning “covered wagon,” they are large steel carts with a striped vinyl tarp draped over top, forming a tent, which to me really evokes a carnival feel. There are thousands across Seoul, most of which seem to be manned by a surly middle-aged woman. Some are standing room only, others have seating at plastic tables, many have some beer or soju available to go along with your snack. Some carts serve a variety of foods, but most often carts will specialize in a specific dish such as some of the following:

Teokbokki
Pronounced closer to tuh-po-key, it is easily the most popular street food in Seoul, with the majority of food carts serving it alongside various fried foods of dubious origin. It’s a serving of rice cakes (tteok) and processed sea food (called odeng) in a spicy red sauce. While it does look a bit unappetizing and messy, the soft, gooey texture of the rice cakes goes along great with the spicy sauce.

Kimbap
Think of it as the little brother of sushi rolls, the difference being that Kimbap features less seafood and more vegetables. Often sold from a small table near a subway station or bus stop in the mornings, they make a great, cheap, filling breakfast or lunch.

Grilled squid
Usually extremely cheap, around 1,000 Korean Won (~$0.88), this is possibly the simplest of all Korean street food. The squid is flattened and grilled, then served up with some soy sauce and mayonnaise. Enjoy it sitting down with some friends drinking some beer on the side of the road.

Hotteok
My personal favorite, it’s basically a pancake with a sweet cinnamon, sugary filling. Unfortunately, hotteok is typically only available seasonally during the colder months; it’s the only reason to look forward to Koreas ridiculously freezing winters.

Huge ice cream cones
Even though it’s currently ridiculously cold in the wintertime, I still see people walking around with ice cream cones. Interestingly, almost all ice cream cones sold on the streets of Seoul are comically tall, a good two feet tall.

Turkish kebabs
Shwarma, doner kebab, gyro … many names, one thing: lamb, veggies and a mayo-like sauce wrapped in a pita. Popular all over the world, they are starting to take hold in Korea. They are becoming increasingly popular, especially as late night food in party areas popular with expats, such as Hongdae and Itaewon.

Tornado potatoes
They take a whole potato, turn it into one giant spiral, then fry it. Yeah, it’s basically just one big French fry, but that’s exactly what makes these things so fun.

Corndogs
American county fair food with a little twist, crazy French fries all over it. Look at it! I almost want to eat a stick of just nuggety French fries by themselves.

With temperatures dropping to well below freezing right now in Korea, it’s a bit hard to believe that there are still people willing to eat street food but surprisingly, there are plenty of people everyday willing to stay out in the cold a little longer in order to get their snack on. So when you come to Korea, make note of these foods and track them down – it won’t be too difficult.

Be sure to check out more on Korean culture from the other Kimchi-ite posts here!

[Photo credits: Jonathan Kramer, Flickr user Sung Sook, Flickr user Augapfel]

What Does Kabul Really Look Like? Exploring The Streets Of Afghanistan’s Capital

The first time I sat in a car in Kabul I was tense. This was the place of car bombs and terrorists after all, wasn’t it? My eyes darted back and forth between the driver, the road and all that was taking place around me. It was sensory overload.

The security situation is ever present in Kabul, there’s no denying that something could happen at any point in time. Then again, the same thing could be said for any city. Yes, Kabul is the capital of a conflict zone, and bombings do happen. But that doesn’t stop life from happening. People walk, vendors sell street food and there’s a general hustle and bustle to the city that feels like many other big cities in the developing world that I have traveled to.

In “The Kite Runner” Khalid Hosseini wrote, “I looked westward and marveled that, somewhere over those mountains, Kabul still existed. It really existed, not just as an old memory, or as the heading of an AP story on page 15 of the San Francisco Chronicle.”

Kabul does exist. It’s just different than many of us have envisioned it.

%Gallery-172827%

At the end of October, Anna Brones spent two weeks in Afghanistan with nonprofit Mountain2Mountain working to produce several Streets of Afghanistan public photo exhibits. This series chronicles the work on that trip and what it’s like to travel in Afghanistan. Follow along here.

[Photo Credits: Anna Brones]

Photo of the Day: raining in Tel Aviv

The rainy day colors and textures of Flickr user Better Nothing Than Almost’s photo caught my eye today. Taken near Tel Aviv, Israel, the blurry drops of water that cling to the window create an impressionist-like effect on the image. I love the hushed color palette, darkening skies and bursts of warm light. It feels eerie yet warm at the same time.

Taken any great travel photos of your own? Why not add them to the Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

Baltimore photos in black and white by Patrick Joust

Patrick Joust, a distinguished photographer from Baltimore, has recently released one of his latest sets of Baltimore photos. Black and white, these photos, titled ‘Street’, capture people and places around town. And I am especially fond of this photo set. I was born in Baltimore and I have spent time regularly throughout my life going back to the city to visit my extended family. It’s been apparent to me since I was young that Baltimore isn’t always the softest of cities, with well-documented struggles with crime and highly contrasted economic social classes. Some of these photos by Joust depict these struggles, but some of these photos also depict something else–an unmistakable sense of contentedness no matter general circumstance. Well, that’s what I see, at least. What do you see?

Check out the full photo set here.

Go on the Fredrick Douglass Walking Tour in Baltimore, Maryland

Photo of the day – Broom lady in Thailand

photo of the day
The nice lady in the photo above is selling brooms in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The photographer, Flickr user LadyExpat, explains that most broom sellers ride bikes, but this lady seemed to prefer to walk. Here in Istanbul, all manner of products are sold on the street, from carts and off the backs of men hawking fruit, corn, and brooms as well. I’ve yet to buy a broom on the street and wonder who would, but I love having the option. While international megastores are becoming more ubiquitous, it’s nice to see an old-fashioned sales method on the street.

What have you seen sold on the street? Upload your favorite travel pictures to the Gadling Flickr pool and we may use one for a Photo of the Day.