Seoul, the South Korean capital, is a foodie paradise, particularly for those with a fondness for street food and a dash of spice. The sheer range of cuisine in the Korean culinary landscape can be overwhelming, so use these popular dishes as a jumping-off point.
This dish of rice topped with meat, a fried egg, and a variety of vegetables is one of Korea’s most famous, and you can customize the spice level by adding gochujang (Korean fermented chili paste). The dish comes from Jeonju Province, but you can find it in restaurants throughout the city. Head to the Jongno neighborhood to find some of the most traditional preparations.
Spicy Fried Chicken
Korean fried chicken has taken the world by storm, but the exported version is never as good as the real thing. Eating this crispy fried chicken coated in a sticky, sweet, and spicy sauce is a nightlife tradition (accompanied by cold beer).
Thinly sliced beef marinated in soy, sesame, and pear puree is grilled and served atop rice—one of Korea’s most popular meat dishes. You’ll find it throughout Seoul, including the upscale restaurants of Gangnam.
This savory pancake made with seafood or kimchi is a favorite rainy-day treat, served alongside Korean rice wine (makgeolli). Try it from one of the street-food vendors in Gongdeok Market in the area aptly nicknamed Pancake Alley.
A favorite street food in Seoul, these cylindrical rice cakes sauteed in spicy red-chili sauce are often eaten late at night, perhaps after an evening out in Hongdae.