Like any other country in the world, South Korea is home to many cultural feats. From samgyeopsal (Korean barbecue) to soondubu jjigae (soft tofu stew) all the way to bingsu (shaved ice), the question of where to go and what to eat just seems endless.
No idea where to start with all the possibilities? Don't worry! Here at SnackFever, we have listed the top 10 best Korean snacks to help you be on your way.
Best Korean Snacks to Eat Straight Away
Primarily made with small garaetteok (long, white, cylinder-shaped rice cakes), eomuk (fish cakes), dashi stock, and gochujang (red chili paste) sauce, tteokbokki is known for being one of the most popular street foods in Korea.
It may look daunting at first due to its bright red-orange color, but they do come in varying levels of spice. Its simple ingredients are combined to make a powerful yet flavorful impact on your tastebuds.
If you're a fan of K-Pop, K-Drama, or just anything related to South Korea, you'll probably already know what ramyeon is. With the average Korean consuming 80 to 90 packets every year, it has been unofficially dubbed as the country's favorite comfort food.
The massive popularity of ramyeon has pushed brands to come out with different varieties: Samyang's Buldak Ramen, Nongshim's Jjapaghetti and Neoguri for Jjapaguri that was popularized by Parasite, Shin Ramyun, and more. You're bound to find one that perfectly fits your taste.
Now, we are moving away from spicy and savory snacks into sweet food. Yakgwa, also called gwajul, is a deep-fried wheat-based confection made with honey, cheongju (rice wine), sesame oil, and ginger juice. It used only to be served during festive days like Chuseok, marriages, and birthdays, but it's now served as dessert.
Koreans have been making these confections for thousands of years. It was once believed that yakgwa was medicinal because honey was its main ingredient. But now, its sweet taste has made it sought out by many Koreans and food explorers.
Pepero is a thin cookie stick that is dipped in chocolate. It was first released to the public by Lotte Confectionery Corporation back in 1983 and has since then taken the world by storm for its sweet flavor. Although known for their sweet flavors, they have also released others, like Cherry Double Dip and Sweet Potato.
Pepero Day, named after this exact snack, happens on November 11. It is when couples not only exchange Pepero boxes but also gratitude and affection towards each other. It started when a middle-schooler from Yeongnam exchanged a snack with people as she said, “Let’s be tall and skinny," along with some other well-wishing remarks.
Even though this fish-shaped pastry originated in Japan, it has captured the hearts of Koreans to become a staple winter snack. The snack was first introduced to Korea in the 1930s. But, instead of the bread being sea bream-shaped, Koreans adapted it to shape it like a carp–hence, "Bungeo," meaning carp, and "ppang" for bread.
Bungeoppang is a warm fish-shaped pastry usually filled with red bean paste. But for a twist, sometimes it's filled with cream pastry, sweet potato, chocolate, and even kimchi. It caters to everyone's tastes, making it popular among many.
Dalgona candy is a sponge toffee-like sugar candy sold on the streets and markets of Korea–especially the ones near schools. The game played on Netflix's hit 2021 show Squid Game, where they feature this candy, is a popular game amongst kids as some vendors give out prizes to whoever gets their pattern out first.
The word snack takes its name after the casual phrase "dalguna," meaning "it's sweet." And with its ingredients only being sugar and baking soda (to turn it into a whipped texture), it's a sure hit for sweet tooths out there.
Best Korean Snacks With Flavors That Appeal to Local Tastebuds
Koreans love their cheese, Whether on top of ramyeon or on top of fried chicken. There's even the Cheese Theme Park in Imsil. But why? Why are Koreans obsessed with cheese?
Besides the fact that cheese can help tone down spicy flavors, it also has something to do with their history. When the Korean War struck Korea, the US army bases would hand out American food like Spam, hot dogs, chocolate, and cheese to locals. The cheese trend just skyrocketed in the 90s.
Everything in Korea has garlic. From their kimchi, banchan, samgyeopsal, and even just seasoning, there will always be a hint of garlic in whatever you eat. The pungent smell and taste are just something they're used to–so if you plan on visiting anytime soon, you'll need to adapt quickly.
In their history, garlic has proven to have healing attributes, which is why it's been used so often. And that history also plays a role in their use of garlic now. But now, instead of just being used as medicine, it has also become aromatic for all kinds of food.
The honey butter craze has taken Korea by storm since Haitai-Calbee released the flavor in 2014. The flavor was actually first introduced in Japan back in 2012 but only sold for a limited time because it didn't gain popularity.
But why do Koreans love it? Because it has honey–which was proven by their ancestors to be medicinal. Since then, it has grown from being medicine to something Koreans love eating as a dessert or when they just want a hint of sweetness.
In Korea, corn is added to pizza, hamburgers, made into a dip, and even placed into kimchi. The locals' obsession with corn has brought them to different food feats. But why is it so popular among them?
There actually isn't much about this. Some say it's the second-most produced crop since the Chinese introduced it to them in the 16th century. But some others say it was also introduced back during the Korean War when US army bases would hand it out with cheese. All we know is that Koreans love their corn and put it on top of anything and everything.
We hope this list not only guides you to eat around the city but also inspires you to know more about where these Korean foods come from and why locals love them. Because with a country with endless amounts of food, there's no other way to experience it than through your stomach.
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When did the honey butter chips shortage happen?
The shortage happened in the fall season of Korea–just a month after the chips were introduced to locals. Some had to place a "Honey Butter Chip sold out!" sign in front of their stores.
What is the most popular ramyeon brand?
Since its release in 1986, Nongshim Shin Noodle Soup has remained one of the most popular ramyeon brands not just inside Korea but around the world as well. It's well known and loved for its distinct spicy broth.
What is the most popular Pepero flavor?
Some of the most popular Pepero flavors are Original, Almond, Choco-filled Nude, White Cookie, and Choco Cookie.