SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA: Local markets are where I usually go to get a feel of the local culture. In the morning rush, stall vendors hanker their products, local residents look for the fresh produce and steaming hot food is cooking in the background, waiting for you to try. It is a sensory overload.
If you visit Seoul, Gwangjang Market is a place you have to see. Gwangjang Market is one of the oldest and largest traditional markets, built more than 100 years ago. It is a large wholesale market selling various goods, including upholstery, imported goods, groceries, dried fish, traditional goods, and more. Today, it thrives as a popular tourist destination, and the food street in the market offers tourists a taste of traditional Korean cuisines, such as Mayak Gimbap, Nokdu-jeon (Mung Bean Pancake), Tteok-bokki (Stir-fried Rice Cake) and Eomuk (Fish Cake). It is a foodie's paradise.
You will also notice that there are many stalls selling the same thing. I would suggest you try out different stalls as well instead of only those that might be featured on TV or Youtube. I bet other food vendors sell good food too, but just didn't get featured.
This is the famous lady, Cho Yonsoon, who was featured on "Netflix's Street Food: Asia" selling hand-cut noodles at a stall in the Gwangjang Market,
Here is a list of food you should not miss!
Kalguksu (Korean Knife Cut Noodles) 칼국수
Kalguksu is a Korean handmade, knife-cut wheat flour noodles served in a large bowl with broth and other ingredients like seaweed and vegetables. I love the peppery flavour, which makes this dish addictive.
Mul-naengmyeon is a buckwheat noodle dish in a cold broth, made either from beef or chicken. Together with vinegar and mustard, this is very refreshing and delicious on a slow day.
Mul-mandu, "Mul" for Boiled and "Mandu" for dumpling, is boiled Korean dumplings. It is very common to find food vendors selling Pork Mandu and Kimchi Mandu together. The skin of these packages of goodness is usually thick and chewy, making them a very satisfying meal.
Seasoned raw beef (육회)
This is Korean Beef Tartare. Besides the abundant sesame and sesame oil used to season the beef, the other distinct difference is eating it with sliced Asian pear. You get the freshness of the beef, the aroma of the sesame and the sweetness from the pear.
Mayak Gimbap (마약김밥)
Mayak Gimbapis, the mini version of the usual Gimbap, consists of rice, toasted seaweed, and fillings such as carrots, pickled radish, and spinach. It is a quick one or two-bite snack. Maya means "drug", as the name implies you will be addicted to it.
Other popular street food of Korea
Like every market, there is no lack of food stalls that went viral on TV, YouTube or Instagram. One such stall is Gwangjang Market Doughnut Twist.
Address: 88 Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul