Best specialty food carts in Seoul
In Seoul, even food stands have to stay ahead of the trend.
Looking for a more competitive edge than selling traditional ddeokbokki, sundae or fishballs on a stick, food stands in Seoul are reinventing themselves by featuring food and drink you wouldn’t normally expect to find on the street.
Although these street carts tend to wander a little from corner to corner, they do stay in the rough vicinity of the directions outlined below (ask other street cart vendors in the area for exact directions of the day). So stop by these five innovative street stands and your stomach (and wallet) will thank you.
Get your buzz on without ever having to set foot in a smoke-filled bar.
This “street bar” sells everything from piña colada to Kahlua and milk to apple martinis, all for around ₩4,000. Non-alcoholic beverages and virgin cocktails are also available.
No need to worry about spilling on the street as you get tipsy since all drinks come in conveniently sealed Capri Sun-like pouches (complete with a straw.) Make sure to stop by and cool off at Maronnier Park a few blocks down, and you can sip on your cocktail while watching live street performances.
Usual Location: Hyehwa station Exit 2
Chueok Ui Gwaja (추억의 과자) “Biscuits of yore”
Carrying over 30 different types of biscuits, jelly and candy that were popular back in the 1970s, Chueok Ui Gwaja is one of the few places in Seoul you can find treats like jjondeuki -- flat and chewy candy strips sprinkled with sugar -- and Aparch (pronounced ‘Apachi’) -- small straws filled with cola or strawberry filling .
This small cart not only attracts nostalgic middle-aged customers, but also the curious younger crowd as well.
Buy any set of three for ₩1,000, and the grandmotherly owner will throw in an extra treat.
Tip: heat up the jjondeuki when you get home for a softer texture and sweeter flavor.
Usual location: Hyehwa station Exit 4, across from Seoul Theater Center
At Roadpresso Takeout, your daily dose of caffeine is sheer aesthetic pleasure.
This lime-green metallic stand boasts bright pink curtains and Christmas lights and is just too damn cute for words.
Drinks are half the price of most chain coffee shops (a cup of joe is only ₩1,500) and “juice made from fresh—never frozen—fruits,” will only set you back ₩2,000.
Rather than being just a coffee bar, this stand has all the kitchen capabilities of a full-blown lunch eatery. For lunch to go, order the ham and cheese sandwich or the Belgian waffle, both popular menu items.
You can also grab a handful of caramelized graham crackers, free and unlimited with every purchase. This place also scores extra brownie points for having an ultra-friendly and always smiling barista.
Usual location: Right outside of Guui Station Exit 1, across from Cresyn Tower III
You can grab a fresh burger on-the-go anytime, rain or shine, at Handinhand, a cozy hamburger stand located in Hongdae.
The patties are ground and made fresh daily by the owner himself, and as soon as the ingredients run out, it’s closing time.
Unlike other burger joints in Korea that have a long list of experimental burgers on the menu, Handinhand keeps it simple with only two items on the menu—the “Handinhand Burger” (₩4,500) or the “Ch-Ch-Cheeseburger” (₩5,000) which comes with mozzarella, parmesan, and cheddar cheese.
The burgers aren’t made until you order, so it’s guaranteed that they will be both hot and fresh.
Follow HandinHand on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/@hinhburger
Location: Hongdae Station exit 8, located next to Sanullim Sogukjang
Noryangjin kimchi fried rice stand
An endless row of food stands are lined up outside Noryangjin station, but the kimchi fried rice stand (the only one in the area) is the most popular among college students on a budget.
Cooked in a giant iron skillet, diced kimchi sizzles as it is cooked, while dried seaweed is sprinkled on top as garnish at the end.
The kimchi fried rice alone costs ₩1,800 and additional ingredients like cheese, tuna, and sausage can be added at extra cost.
A regular bowl of fried rice is almost enough for two people, but if you’ve got the budget and hunger of a grad student, order one size up (“gop bbae gi”) for just ₩500 extra.
Directions: Make right at Noryangjin station Exit 1 in the direction of the food stands, and ask any street vendor where the kimchi fried rice cart is located for that particular day.