If you are a food lover of Seoul’s street food, Gwangjang Market is a must-visit place to experience with a forest of small stalls selling street food and traditional Korean food. This market focuses almost only eateries with both order and set meal, such as gimbap, tteokbokki (Spicy rice cakes), soondae (Korean blood sausage), hotteok (Korean sweet pancakes)… and lots of fresh seafood, especially sannakji (live octopus sashimi) with tentacles still wriggle on plate, just thinking also make you feel creepy! So, what to eat at Gwangjang Market Seoul – one the most popular food places and best places to eat in Seoul? Let’s check out our Gwangjang market blog on how to spend one perfect day in Gwangjang Market Seoul to explore the street food paradise of Seoul (Gwangjang market food) to find out the answer!
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Gwangjang market blog: Overview of Gwangjang Market Seoul
Address: 88 Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno 4(sa)-ga, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Hours: 9AM–5PM, daily
Directions: Take the subway to Jongno 5-Ga station, Exit 8 or 9.
Gwangjang Market is one of the oldest markets in Seoul which was opened in 1905. All activities, sales and culture of the market have not changed much in the length of history.
From the main street you will see the entrance gate of the market is quite wide, the inside is covered with arch roofs and lights are turned on almost throughout the market. Here stalls and eateries are arranged evenly, very similar to the stalls and small eateries in markets in Vietnam, with the owner and a large table in the middle with benches arranged around for guests to sit. The market reminded me of when I was in high school, after each school, I had to ride my bicycle into the market, order some snacks with a group of friends like meat buns, pancakes, some cup of sweets before get home!
What to eat at Gwangjang market Seoul? Main dishes and the most are sold at Gwangjang market
The market has a large number of stalls and eateries, but most of them sell similar foods, which are also the signature dishes and foods of Gwangjang Market. The food is presented on the table was quite a lot, of all kinds and quantities, like stacked up and piled up. Here are the main dishes as follows:
Gimbap (Korean Seaweed Rice Rolls): A very popular dish in Korea made with rice and various ingredients such as vegetables, eggs… rolled in dried seaweed leaves. The Gwangjang market is famous for Mayak gimbap, smaller than the usual gimbap that you often eat, the taste is also much more special.
Tteokbokki (Spicy rice cakes): So famous, the tteokbokki here is covered in a bright red color on the tray with a very attractive spicy sauce.
Soondae (Blood sausages): A dish similar to Vietnamese blood sausages, but of course when you eat it, it will be different. This Soondae dish is stuffed not only with blood, but also a lot of noodles or sticky rice.
Mung Bean Pancakes (Bindaetteok): Bindaetteok is made by grinding soaked mung beans, adding vegetables and meat and pan-frying it into a round, and flat shape form.
Fresh seafood: The seafood in the market seems is overwhelmed by the major dishes above, but not so less attractive. The seafood is mainly sashimi and the famous live octopus dish (sannakji), the live octpus is cut into small parts but it still wiggles on plate, sprinkle with sesame and chopped shallots, looks disgusting but delicious, the price is also not very cheap.
Gwangjang market blog: Experience a meal at Gwangjang market
I went to the market at noon with an empty stomach, the first impression is that the market is extremely clean and organized. The eateries are quite similar to the market in Vietnam but the overall design is in the style of the central markets in Europe, that is, there is a large dome covering the entire market, the inside is illuminated by many lights.
From the main entrance, the middle is a lane filled with eateries, the two sides are mostly shops selling fruit or drinks. Highlights are still fresh fruit, fruit juice, quite high price from 5000 KRW – 8000 KRW per cup. I strolled around 2-3 rounds to take photos, see what the market has, what food the restaurants sell and what dish the customers often order, so we know to order. Guests here are both locals and foreign tourists, in general every stall is crowded with customers.
I chose a restaurant in the market, not too different from the rest. There was a group of students sitting here for eating, after talking, I known this is the group of Taiwanese friends went to explore Korean food, they had an native Korean girl who led them to eat, so they known food here. They order a little bit of every dish, but they often shared to eat together. That day, I went alone, so ordering is difficult, I can’t speak Korean to order, and most of the shop owners here don’t speak English.
I gestured to the lady owner, ordering a little bit of every dish to try. My meal consisted of Soondae with pork liver, Mantu (Korean dumplings), a plate of boiled pork belly, vegetables and kimchi, … but it seems I was mistaken to think that the lady owner got what I meant. A moment later she brought me a meal that probably had to be eaten by two. OMG, seeing is getting greasy and not to mention eating, even though that time I was quite getting hungry.
The overall impression is that the food is quite dry and cold despite it served with kimchi. The most greasy dish is probably Soondae, there is not as much blood inside as the Vietnamese blood sausage, but it has too much of noodles inside, not delicious at all. The boiled pork belly is quite delicious, if eaten with kimchi and dipping sauce.
I tried hard to eat most of it, mostly because I felt a little regret. Most shocking is when paying, the whole meal costs 22,000KRW. Perhaps the price is also the general price, but personally, this meal is too expensive, full because of eating much but not full because it is delicious, but I have not tried all the dishes here. Gimbap and Tteokbokki and many street food in the market will be tried in next times. Maybe if you eat each of them just a little bit, not too full, it is much better.
Anyway, this is a very worthwhile dining place to experience for those traveling to Seoul.
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