Korean Street Food



Doreen Yoon

Have you ever had Tteokbokki (떡볶이) before? It’s an extremely popular dish in Korea. Tteokbokki can be a meal, or a snack. It’s a thick rice cake, covered in a spicy flavoring that’s made by mixing multiple pastes and spices. Sometimes it’s served on a stick, like a kebab. However most of the time, Tteokbokki is served in a bowl, so it adds more spice and flavor to it. This isn’t the only delicious snack that’s available in Korea. These bites can be spicy, salty, and even sweet!


First on this list is spicy! I know that a ton of students, and even teachers at Rio love spicy food. Ramen (라면), Sautteok (소떡), and Tteokbokki are all great spicy snacks to munch on.

 Today, Ramen can be found everywhere as it is very popular. However, if you don’t know what it is I can inform you. Ramen is a type of noodle that you enjoy with soup. The soup can have a range of taste from mildly flavorful to super spicy. Instant ramen is spicy and is served almost everywhere. If you ever decide to travel to Korea, A popular combo to try is Ramen and Tteokbokki. The way to make this is by simply adding Ramen noodles into Tteokbokki sauce, then placing the rice cakes on top. Moving on, Sautteok is a combination of sausages and Tteokbokki on a stick, like a kebab. The sausage is first cooked on a pan, then coated with the special Tteokbokki sauce. 

Same with the regular Tteokbokki. All you do is cook the Tteokbokki, coat it, then stack the small portions on top of each other. However a more efficient way is to stack all of the sausages and tteok, then coating it with a sauce, any way is fine, because the taste is what matters! Sautteok is a simple go-to snack whenever you’re busy. All these spicy delights are waiting for you to try!


There are so many sweet snacks you can find while walking through the streets of Korea. Some delicious examples are Tanghulu (탕후루), Hotteok (호떡), Patbingsu (팥빙수), and Bungeoppang (붕어빵). 

Tanghulu originated in China, but it’s a huge hit in Korea! Tanghulu is basically a candied fruit skewer. To make this treat, you start by stacking fruits onto a stick, then covering the berries with a melted sugar mix. This allows the sugar to harden, giving it a sweet coating. After the glaze has cooled, you can have a bite of the yummy candied fruit! 


Another sweet snack is called Hotteok! It’s a type of pancake, but it’s filled with a thick syrup. Once you take a bite of this chewy treat, you’ll want to go back for seconds. In order to make the dough for this savory snack, you have to mix flour, water, yeast, sugar, and milk. After you have combined all of your ingredients, you have to let your dough rise for several hours, 4-6 hours should be enough. Once the dough has risen, you can start kneading the dough into small, handful sized balls. Then, you can put the dough to the side. It’s time to make the sweet filling. To make this savory syrup, all you need is brown sugar, honey, peanuts, and cinnamon; it’s that simple! The next step is to fill the dough with this mixture. Once this step has been completed, you can place the spheres onto a greased griddle, then use a special tool to press down the dough. Let it sit for a few minutes, then voila! You have yourself a delicious, warm treat.

 The second to last sweet is a cold, milky summer snack, it’s Patbingsu! Like a snow cone, it’s shredded ice. But, there is a twist. Once the ice has been broken down with a machine, milk is poured on top, making the ice soft and enjoyable. Sometimes, condensed milk is combined with regular milk to create a softer, more delicate texture. Then, it will be shredded. 

Traditionally, you put red beans on your cool dessert. However recently fruit and fruit syrups have been a big hit in Korea. This is because you can enjoy the mellow lightness of the ice, incorporated with the freshness of the fruit. Some popular combinations are mango and mango syrup, watermelon and watermelon juice, oranges with orange juice, and strawberries with strawberry syrup. Once you have made your order, you can enjoy a traditional shaved ice, or a  juicy tart.

 Last but not least, is Bungeoppang. This dish is similar to Taiyaki, which is a fish shaped cake. However, Bungeoppang is a fish shaped pastry. The bread is very simple to make, just wheat flour, and milk. Sometimes, this fish shaped dessert can be stuffed with red bean paste. Other times, it can be filled with chocolate, ice cream, Boba pearls, and even pizza toppings! So, whenever you walk by a shop that sells Bungeoppang, make sure to get it when it’s fresh! 


Have you had enough sugary snacks and want a salty snack to wash it all down? Gimbap (김밥), Japchae (잡채), and Yangnyeom Tongdak (양념치킨) are all great dishes to try! 

Starting off with Gimbap, its a roll made with rice, seaweed, and vegetables. You place the seaweed on top of a wooden roller, then spread the rice all across your seaweed. Once the rice has been evenly arranged, you can start placing the vegetables, meat, and eggs! After you’ve completed this step, roll up the Kimbap, slice the meal into small pieces, then you are done! A delicious, healthy meal is ready to be eaten! 

Japchae is a sweet dish made of stir-fried glass noodles and vegetables. The glass noodles are prepared with Dangmyeon, a type of cellophane noodle. After the noodles are ready, it’s seasoned with soy sauce and sesame oil. Once the noodles have been plated, assorted vegetables and meats are placed on top. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top, and the food is ready to go! Don’t worry, this meal isn’t too salty. Japchae is an extremely popular cuisine in Korea. The dish is eaten on birthdays, weddings, and other special occasions. Japchae is a very important part of Korean cuisine.

 Another tasty treat is Yangnyeom Tongdak. Yangnyeom means seasoned/flavored chicken. Yangnyeom Tongdak can also be covered with a spicy coating, so it can be in the spicy section of this article too. Most of the time, young teens enjoy this distinctive meal. In Korea, everyone orders takeout for buying Yangnyeom Tongdak, so there isn’t really a recipe I can tell you about.

Korean street food is an extremely important part of modern Korean culture. Whether you like spicy, sweet, or salty foods, I recommend you to try these dishes at least once. Because if you don’t, you’ll never know the delectable taste of these popular dishes.

Yangnyeom Tongdak

Glossary :

Ramen – (Ra~mehn)

Sautteok – (Suh~Ddok)

Tteokbokki – (Ddok~boh~key)

Tanghulu – (Tanhg~hulu)

Hotteok – (Hout~Ddok)

Patbingsu – (Paht~Beeng~Sou)

Bungeoppang – (Boong~oh~ppahng)

Gimbap – (Geem~bap)

Japchae – (Jahp~Cheh)

Yangnyeom Tongdak – (Yanhg~knee~om~Tohng~Dak)