Gwangjang Market is a famous street food market located fairly close to the Dongdaemun Design Plaza. This market offers a variety of traditional Korean street food from Mungbean pancakes, mandu (Korean dumplings), and more. If you want to get traditional Korean food in South Korea, this is the place to do it. If you are new to Korea or just traveling you have to add Gwangjang market to your places to visit at least once in your lifetime.
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Gwangjang Market | What to eat in Seoul’s Traditional Market
This market is Seoul’s oldest traditional market to get traditional clothing, traditional street food and more.
Why is Gwangjang Market Popular?
So the Gwangjang market is not only known for its street food, but you can also get a lot of great clothing items in this area. It is considered to be one of Korea’s largest markets and located in the heart of Seoul. Here you can find a variety of things from silk, custom made hanboks, vintage clothing, and traditional Korean street food.
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What to eat at Gwangjang Market | Popular Korean Street Food
There are so many great stalls at Gwangjang Market and it has always been popular among tourists visiting South Korea. However, it has recently become even more popular due to the famous Netflix series on Korean Street Food. If you are planning to visit Gwangjang Market, then these are the Korean street foods you need to try there.
Bindaetteok – Mungbean Pancakes
Gwangjang market is known for these famous and popular mungbean pancakes and all for good reason as well. You will go here and have one and I’m sure you’ll crave another and want to go back. These remind me of potato pancakes and are warm and a little crispy on the outside. It’s absolutely delicious and a must eat at Gwangjang market.
This popular Korean dish is best described as a Korean version of sushi. However, instead of raw fish, this dish is usually stuffed with vegetables and meat including carrots, cucumbers, pickled radishes, and meats like bulgogi (marinated beef), tuna, and more. You can get a variety of different types of kimbap, although the smaller or mini ones called Mayak kimbap are considered to be more favorable at this market.
This traditional Korean soup is filled with a knife cut Korean style noodles. This soup is great for keeping you warm during the cold winter months and packed with comfort and flavor. There are different types of Kalguksu you can get from seafood to beef. This soup is mild in flavor meaning it isn’t spicy however like most Korean dishes is often served with a side of kimchi. If you plan to go visit the Netflix lady, this is one of her most popular dishes.
There are two typical types of mandu or dumplings that are typical in Korea. There is the traditional flavor filled with minced meat and veggies and the kimchi mandu which is filled with mean and kimchi. Kimchi mandu is only common in Korea and it’s one of my favorites to eat in Korea. They are so delicious and you can’t leave this market without eating them. Most Koreans eat it steamed or in a soup, however, there are places that pan-fry them. I usually like them panfried, however, it honestly depends on how they are made and what they are stuffed with. The woman from the Netflix stand has both the traditional and kimchi mandu and let me tell you, that kimchi mandu is something I want to go back for.
떡볶이 – Tteokbokki
This is a popular traditional Korean dish that is made of cylinder-shaped rice cakes and covered in a sweet and spicy sauce. You can see this type of street food all over South Korea and it’s one of the most popular street foods to enjoy. If you haven’t had it or found other vendors in other locations, be sure to have some here.
육회 – Yuk-hoe or Steak Tartare
This market is very popular for the steak tartare. They usually top it off with a raw yellow yolk that you mix in with the steak tartare. Although I didn’t get a chance to try it here because I was so full off of everything else, it looked absolutely delicious and I plan to go back and have some. I really enjoy beef tartare in South Korea because it is so flavorful and lightly seasoned.
Best known as blood sausages. This dish is for the adventurous because it is a bit chewy in texture and blood sausages are usually stuffed pig intestines. They are quite delicious but can be somewhat bland as well. I think the texture is what most people dislike about it.
Although you can get live octopus here, I would suggest you wait and get it at one of the fish markets in Seoul or Jagalchi market in Busan. If you don’t have a chance to visit those places, then you could try it here. It’s one of my favorite dishes to eat in South Korea. It’s a freshly cut octopus covered in sesame oil, sesame seeds and a little bit of salt. The octopus is still moving on the plate and you may need to use your chopsticks to pry the moving tentacles, but honestly, don’t let that scare you away.
Other options you can eat at Gwangjang Market
- 비빔밥 – Bimbimbap – A spicy rice dish with veggies and meat
- 물냉면 – Mul-naengmyeon – Cold noodle soup
- 족발 – Jokbal – Pigs feet
- 닭발 – Dalkbal – Chicken feet
Desserts at Gwangjang Market
This popular street food in Korea and usually served during the winter months. I only found a few stalls at the Gwangjang market that had them, but if you find them it’s totally worth checking out. It’s my favorite dessert street food option in South Korea. A hotteok is a sweet rice flour pancake that is usually stuffed with brown sugar and sometimes sunflower seeds and nuts depending on the vendor.
꽈배기 – Twisted Korean doughnut
Right next to the hotteok stand I saw inside the Gwangjang market was a stall selling Gwabaegi which is a popular Korean doughnut. This is a very popular donut that is made of rice flour so it’s a little stickier than regular donuts. They are usually hot and fresh in order to be good and covered in sugar and sometimes cinnamon sugar. If you are a donut lover like myself, you must try one of these donuts.
붕어빵 – Bungeo-ppang
Now, this is a popular snack among many Asian kids. It was my favorite growing up and if you aren’t a big fan of sweet red beans then I don’t suggest you order this. This is a fish-shaped pastry stuffed with sweetened red bean paste. This popular dish originated in Japan and was brought over and become a popular staple in Korean street food cuisine.
Where to shop at Gwangjang Market
So all of the street food vendors are typically on the first floor. If you want to look for fabrics, clothing, and more, they are mostly on the second floor. There are a few vendors on the first floor down some alleyways, but most will lead you back up to their largest place upstairs.
How to get to Gwangjang Market and Opening Hours
- Opening hours: Typically 8:30 am – 6 pm daily but the restaurants are usually 8:30 am to 11:00 pm, but I suggest you go in the afternoon or evening even though places are opening in the morning, most of them are prepping the food for the day. Some places are closed on Sunday.
- Address: 88 Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, 서울특별시 종로구 창경궁로 88 (예지동)
- How to get there: Take the subway to Jongno-5 station and exit number 7. Head straight and you will see the entrance to the market on your right-hand side.
- Prices: Street food prices vary, at the Netflix stall we paid 10,000 won (~$9USD) for a bowl of Kalguksu and Mandu. We shared the dish and it was pretty filling for 2 people. The Bindaetteok was about 2 for 3,000 won (~$2.50). So honestly, it depends on where you go and what you get. Most places are 1,500 won and up.
- Website: www.kwangjangmarket.co.kr
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