What is Korean Street Food or Pojangmacha?

Table of Contents

Introduction to Korean Street Food

Street food in Korea has been traditionally seen as a part of popular culture in Korea. One of the best things about Korean Street Food (pojangmacha) is that your food is often ready within 5 minutes. Korean Street Food has also become globally popular due to its visual appeal in addition to its taste.

Street foods are visually appealing and delicious as well, sometimes the preparation of food is equally appealing as its taste, watching the vendor toss the ingredients on a pan is entertaining to the eye.

Popular Types of Korean Street Food

Tteokbokki

Tteokbokki happens to be the number one in Korean street food. These spicy rice cakes cooked in bright red sauce are chewy and the sauce is sweet and spicy.

Odeng

Odeng or korean fish cake is a fish paste seasoned and mixed with starch, flour, rice wine and other spices. Odeng is usually served with warm, tasty broth another popular form of odeng is deep fried odeng.

Photo: Gol Tong Chicken

Chimaek

Chimaek is the Korean version of chicken and beer. Chimaek is short for chicken + maekju (beer), one of the must-eat items when it comes to Korean street food. There are many varieties of Chimaek including different frying and cooking styles. Sauces also include flavors like Honey Butter, Soy Garlic, or even Gochujang, which give Korean fried chicken a great pairing with many types of drinks, especially maekju (beer)!

Photo: Anika854

Dakkochi

Dakkochi, like other Korean street food, is very cheap. You can get ten, maybe fifteen sticks without making a huge dent in your budget,  Each stick cost about 3,000 Won (US$3). Pieces of tender chicken marinated and glazed with a plethora of sauces before grilling. Despite having great flavor on their own, Dakkochi is best had when paired with Korea’s many kinds of spicy sauces. A bite of Dakkochi combined with a sip of cold beer is truly an amazing combination.

Bungeoppang

This fish-shaped bun filled with sweet red beans is a classic street snack. It is known to have come from Japan in the 1930s. Taiyaki which was famous in Japan became Bungeoppang. In Japanese, “Tai” means sea bream, and “yaki” means roasted. So this is a cheap street snack which imitates the more expensive Japanese food. It was the most common street food in the 1950s and 1960s, after the Japanese colonial period. It has appeared again since the 1990s.

Photo: Side Chef

Hoppang

Hoppang means steamed bun in Korean. A steamed bun is made from flour, usually from the United States, and red beans. Ingredients such as vegetables, meat, sweet pumpkin, curry and pizza are added, and additional variants on the hoppang theme are constantly being developed. It can be found both on the street and at convenience stores.

Photo: Mangchi

Hotteok

Hotteok is the Korean adaptation of the ordinary pancakes. They usually fill it with all kinds of sweet or savory filling. Although it looks and feels like a pancake, it actually kind of like a donut. It has various versions. For instance, the filling can be red bean paste, sweet potato, ground peanut, onions (yes, onion) or japchae (a form of noodle) and much more. 

Photo: Daebak!

Tornado Fries (Potatoes)

Tornado Fries or Tornado Potatoes are one of the trendiest dishes in Korea.  In this dish, the potato is skewered on a stick, cut thinly into the form of a tornado. The cut is thin enough for it to hold flavored powder.

Photo: Hankook Soondae

Soondae

Not to be confused with an Ice Cream Sundae, Soondae is the Korean street food version of blood sausage. It’s truly a delicacy. Some may think that the idea of eating pork blood is unappetizing, but the dish is the favorite for many people.

The Kimbap

Gimbap

Gimbap or Kimbap is a Korean street food item made from cooked rice and other ingredients rolled in sheets of dried laver seaweed. The most common form of Gimbap uses short-grain white rice, while some other variations use brown rice, black rice, other kinds of grain can also serve as filling. Alongside the rice, the filling may also include cheese, squid, carrot, egg, tuna… with sesame seeds sprinkled on top.

Photo: Two Hands Hotdog

Hot Dogs & Corn Dogs

Korean Hot Dogs and Korean Corn Dogs have been all the craze. Using gourmet ingredients with a wide variety of toppings and spices, Korean Street Food’s latest trend is the Korean Hot Dog and Corn Dog.

Types of Korean Street Food Vendors

Photo: Wam Block Party

Food Trucks

Food trucks have recently become very popular in korea, food trucks are used to sell street food in most parts of korea. They are usually found in parks and culture art spaces.

Food Tents (Pojangmacha "the OG")

A pojangmacha is a small tented spot that can be on wheels or a street stall that sells a variety of street food such as hotteok, tteokbokki, odeng etc. In the evening, many of these establishments also sell alcoholic beverages like soju. Pojangmacha in korea literally means a “covered wagon”.

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