Why do lines in front of street vendors grow longer in the winter? Is it the charm of eating hot food outside on a cold day, when breath freezes in the air and a sizzling snack helps warm a cold nose? Sampling from Busan’s ample street food offerings is the best way to find out while warming the body and mind.
Ssiat Hotteok (sugar-filled seed pancake)
Sticky rice or flour is used to make the paste for hotteok (sugar-filled pancake), which is then stuffed with cinnamon-flavored brown sugar. Once the brown sugar is in place, the paste is made into round, flat shapes that are fried in oil. Hotteok is moist and soft on the inside, while crispy on the outside. Ssiat hotteok is a more savory version, stuffed with sunflower seeds and nuts. It’s common to see long lines in front of hotteok carts in Nampo-dong alleys.
Eomuk (fish cake)
Eomuk is deeply ingrained in the history of Busan. Originally from Japan, the fish cake was first embraced as a part of Korean cuisine in Busan. Eomuk is made by frying mashed fish meat with flour batter.
Eomuk is popular for its low price and high availability on the street. Gorge yourself on eomuk dipped in soy sauce or spicy tteokbokki sauce and wash it down with a cup of hot broth to warm from the inside out.
A wide range of eomuk products have recently become available including eomuk croquette and cheese eomuk, produced by specialty companies such as Samjin Eomuk and Goraesa. Whether served on the street, in a market, or in a specialty shop, there’s no shortage of this classic street food for the hungry people of Busan.
Eomuk is gaining popularity with foreigners. Premium eomuk products made of quality ingredients have made inroads into countries beyond Korea, with shops open in such overseas locations as Shanghai, China and Fukuoka, Japan.
Tteokbokki (stir-fried rice cake)
Tteokbokki is made by stir-frying long pieces of rice cake and eomuk in spicy chili paste, gochujang. It is an iconic Korean street food snack, loved across the board. Tteokbokki carts can be found on the streets of Nampo-dong, with many located in BIFF square. Busan-style tteokbokki is made with a special blend of thicker and chewier rice cakes, soaked evenly in sauce. This spicy, yet sweet sauce can be used as dip for any number of other foods.
EoYubu Jumeoni (fried tofu bag)
Yubu jumeoni is Busan’s signature winter food, made by stuffing a yubu (fried tofu) jumeoni (bag) with glass noodles. Like eomuk, yubu jumeoni is cooked in hot broth. The glass noodles and vegetables inside the yubu give a soft, but rich flavor, deepened by the broth. It’s perfect for soothing an empty stomach.
Danpatjuk (sweet red bean porridge)
There is a whole alley dedicated to danpatjuk (sweet red bean porridge) in Gukje Market, Nampo-dong. Danpatjuk, said to drive away evil spirits with its red color, is made from boiled red beans and served in small bowls from street stalls lining the alley. Add a little salt to make this simple meal even sweeter.
Night market eateries
Bupyeong Kkangtong (tin can) Market is a traditional market with a 100-year history. Food carts begin to sell such unique foods as fried milk, steel plate ice cream, bulb ade (drinks served in light bulbs), water drop tteok (rice cake) and many other unusual foods at 7:30 p.m. International menu items include rice noodles and cha gio from Vietnam, kebab from Turkey, okonomiyaki from Japan and quesadilla from Mexico.
How to get there: Go out exit 3 of Jagalchi Station (Metro line 1) and turn left to enter the market alley.