Street Food in Korea and Stuff On Sticks!

by Matt on August 23, 2011

There is no shortage of quick and tasty food in Seoul and Jeonju. In fact, it’s hard to not stumble into a stand somewhere serving bubbling ddeokbokki or frying up the small disks of hoddeok, the sweet pancakes ready to be consumed on the spot.

I’m not quite sure I can make this point enough regarding street food.

It is everywhere.

The sheer number of carts, food stalls and ad hoc restaurants is only matched by the Korean appetite. It seems insatiable and I felt so completely at home. Walk up to any stand or vendor and you’ll most likely be greeted with a smile and an urge to stop and enjoy their offerings. In more crowded markets like Gwangjuang Market in Seoul you’ll even feel the competition for your business as stall operator after stall operator gently pleads for you to have a seat.

You can choose to be overwhelmed or you can choose to tackle it head on. I bet you can’t guess which one we did.

Not to make anyone dizzy, but here’s a quick slightly sped up video of my walk through Gwangjang Market. I don’t think I could even keep track of the amount of food stalls.


Our pop-up has nothing on pojangmacha

See this? Take a food truck, add a tent, some seating, amplify the concept and experience and you have pojangmacha. You can stop in for a bite to eat, drink some soju or makkoli, all relatively inexpensively. I love this.  Will we be seeing pojangmacha pop up in Los Angeles, I wonder?

Not wanting to miss a thing, we made sure to hit the street food not only in Seoul but in Jeonju as well. Walking through the streets, the sights, sounds and smells of Korean food was enough to send me into overload. It was the perfect late night meal.

Plenty of ddeokbukki, one of my most favorite dishes on the planet. It’s sliced rice cake and fish cake cooked in gochujang, the Korean chili paste. It’s warm and spicy, chewy and filling. Our meal also consisted of deep fried vegetables and soondae, Korean blood sausage. If you are a fan of Spanish morcilla you’ll enjoy soondae. We finished it off with pieces of kimbap, Korean rice rolls which I could eat every single day.


You’d think after rolling me back to Seoul I would have had my fill of street fare. Absolutely not. We hadn’t even begun to sample Korean food on a stick.




I think I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.


There’n even a stick section at the convenience store!

And lastly, I thought I’d close out this post with one of the most beautiful, happiest things the planet has ever seen. A French Fry-Wrapped Hot Dog. On a stick. Yes. I’m crying. Look at it. Love it. It was as every bit of delicious as it should be.

I can’t wait to go back.





{ 6 trackbacks }

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Lloyd Hardman August 23, 2011 at 5:55 am

WOW! I want to go!

michelle August 23, 2011 at 7:49 am

So unfair. I am now starving. That meat on a stick that Adam is wielding third photo from the bottom looks soooo good. And the french fry hot dog is awesome.

la domestique August 23, 2011 at 8:05 am

That is a ton of food! I bet it smells amazing!

Garrett August 23, 2011 at 8:45 am

I love this. It makes me all the more psyched for my upcomming trip to China and Tibet. They’re going to have to load me on my own plane to heave me back to the states I plan to eat so much.

Kim August 23, 2011 at 9:15 am

Korea + Food + Street Vendors = Delicious. I only wish I could cook the wonderful meals I had while I was there! My friend treated me to a Korean style brunch at her house and it brought back some great memories for my taste buds! ;)

Steve August 23, 2011 at 9:31 am

DO WANT the french fry hot dog!

wandering educators August 23, 2011 at 9:36 am

ok. i need to go. i LOVE those photos – you make me hungry!

Angela August 23, 2011 at 10:06 am

And lastly, I thought I’d add a comment to this post with one of the most beautiful, happiest things the planet has ever seen. Matt taking a picture of Adam eating a French Fry-Wrapped Hot Dog. On a stick. Yes. I’m crying. Look at it. Love it. You two are every bit of delicious as two people should be.

Jen August 23, 2011 at 10:11 am

I am half-Korean and I haven’t been back to Korea since I was a small child. Looking at your posts makes me home sick for my mom’s food! I love every picture you took. Thank you for your post :) Gotta make me some kimbap now!

Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga August 23, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Matt this is an awesome post! Thanks for helping me feel like I just went to Korea for a few minutes!

When I went to Mexico City on a photography tour with Penny de los Santos in July, we saw so much street food and so many markets…and I do mean…soooo many! It was so eye opening and amazing being surrounded by new everything to me. And your Korea experience I can only imagine was equally as fascinating and amazing!

Murissa Maurice August 23, 2011 at 1:53 pm

I did see on a travel show that somewhere in Korea (I think) there are deep friend Starfish on a stick! The travel host ate it and said it wasn’t bad, but anything deep friend isn’t too bad (usually!).

The Wanderfull Traveler

Karl August 23, 2011 at 4:07 pm

The concept of the food truck smacks dab on the essence of street food. And, that fry-wrapped hotdog on a stick just looks surreal, but inviting. It’s almost like an armament of some kind… in bright yellow LOL!

Nic@diningwithastud August 23, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Food on a stick – happiness!

Mike @ How To Make A Smoothie At Home August 24, 2011 at 4:00 am

The food on a stick looks great. Glad you had some good eats!!

Noos Sara August 24, 2011 at 11:11 pm

Wow… street foods are amazing! Love your blog! Thank you for sharing!

Marla August 25, 2011 at 5:21 pm

What a trip! Those pop up food stalls are fabulous. The French Fry wrapped hot dog….quite the treat. Back in college I would have slammed that at 3am.

Heidi / foodiecrush August 25, 2011 at 5:26 pm

I agree with Marla, that wrapped hot dog beats Village Inn any day of the week. Or I mean night. Nothing like Asia for ultimate street food. What a trip. Literally.

Julie August 25, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Makes me want to go! Love the dogs wrapped in fries.. scheming how to recreate that at home..

The Undercover Cook August 27, 2011 at 1:01 pm

I need a plane ticket because I want to taste it all for myself! Thanks for sharing all the fabulous pictures.

Marie August 27, 2011 at 11:20 pm

Enjoying your Korea posts so much. I’m so happy you had a lovely time there!

Joy August 28, 2011 at 2:55 am

I see and hear only two things: french fries on hot dogs!

ihath August 28, 2011 at 9:50 am

amazing pictures

A Mother's Thoughts August 28, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Wow, that’s my kind of place, fried food and on every corner at that! I glad that you are having a great time! Thanks for posting all the great pictures.


Tiffany August 29, 2011 at 2:37 am

Yay! I live in Seoul and it’s so much fun to read your post about all the awesome street food. Please come back and visit soon!

Neil Butterfield August 29, 2011 at 4:53 am

Sounds and looks stunning, my kind of place, wall to wall food.

Lisa August 29, 2011 at 11:35 am

Weiner wrapped in potatoes… this is prime example why I love street food. It’s cheap and its a dream come true!

Venus August 30, 2011 at 11:59 am

I wholeheartedly enjoyed your entire post, but found myself unreasonably obsessed with the roll of toilet paper in the first picture. It looks like toilet paper. Is it toilet paper? Why?

Syreena August 30, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Just found your blog through bakerella!!! In love… I love the travel!! I’m a stay at home mom of two with a major itch to travel… One of my new fav blogs.. Food on a stick? Seriously? In lurveeeee…

The Culinary Chase August 31, 2011 at 8:50 am

Asians are amazing at presenting food on a stick and for the most part I can enjoy…it’s the skewered bugs or scorpions that make great photos but have no place in my belly! :) Cheers!

christine [the sugar apothecary] August 31, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Oh my. I am thoroughly overwhelmed just watching Matt’s video, and SO excited to eat things on a stick! I love that you appreciate the little things, like the magic of a French fry-wrapped hot dog, or just how badass that lady in the purple latex apron is :)

Sarah September 4, 2011 at 10:49 am

Fantastic pictures. Especially love the woman dressed to the nines manning her food cart. That french fry covered hotdog is unbelievable. Who would have thought such uber American fast food would be invented in Korea.

jin September 8, 2011 at 1:24 pm

this makes me wish i can go back to korea soon.

jeanny September 23, 2011 at 3:25 am

There is a bar in LA that sort of replicates the pojangmacha. The bar’s called DwitGolMok, which literally means “back alley” in Korean. It’s in Koreatown and it’s hard to find, but pretty dang awesome.

I’m currently in Korea and even though I pass by vendors every day, your photos somehow make everything look more delicious!

J2Kfm September 24, 2011 at 7:37 am

That fries enveloping a sausage has got to steal the limelight; of all the most fusion of stuff. And on the streets of Korea to boot.
Pleasant, this resembles Taiwan to an extent.

kk October 4, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Love your post~!! Ddoekbokki is one of my favorites, too~^^ Please try ddeokboki street in Bundang next time~ There are some pretty good places~

Ryan October 6, 2011 at 7:31 am

This is by far the beeesst blog post I’ve ever seen on Korea/Korean food!

Hanna October 9, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Great to see my city captured in street food snippets. I adore all of the food stalls, pojangmachas, and outdoor markets that are so ubiquitous here. Come back soon!

Elaine March 21, 2012 at 10:35 am

1. This is making me hungry..
2. Now I need to go to Korea just for the pochangmachas..

Charlene June 7, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Just wanted you to know that my kids think the picture of the French Fry-Wrapped Hot Dog is awesome! Thanks for sharing. My son wants to try making it at home now. We found a similar recipe on Food Network, is there one in the On A Stick! book?

Lavsma January 30, 2013 at 5:38 am

layo rana sa balut sa pinas.. labi na ang proven sa CDO…hehehe! Yummy!

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