Myeong-dong has always been the shopping quarter to me, a chance for me to squeeze myself into some familiar branded clothing. Years ago, when I lived down south and was more on the portly side, coming to Seoul was my only chance to find clothes to fit me. As soon as I arrived I would head straight to Forever 21 and H&M where I could usually just about find something in my size, and if it didn’t fit I’d stuff myself into it anyway. With the array of brightly lit stores to distract me, I never really paid much attention to the food, but these days there are so many options it is hard to ignore.
Over the past few years the Myeong-dong street food cart scene has really exploded. Once the sun goes down the accessory street carts depart and in their place are dozens of delicious street snacks for you to feast upon. There is a large variety of Korean food, along with some more experimental trend type foods and lots of desserts. To be honest I always stop by the the street food when I’m in need of a sustenance as Myeong-dong for me has always lacked in good places to eat, and the cheap prices of between 1,000-3,000 also make it a win win situation.
Obviously the street has plenty of Korea’s most popular and more adventurous street foods, boiled silkworm larva or dried squid anyone? I went for the less offensive, fried mandu (3,000), Korea’s answer to dim sum. But expect to find dokbokki (rice cakes in spicy sauce), japchae (sesame noodles), and kimchi jeon (spicy cabbage pancake).
One of my favourites of everything we ate last night was the fried cheese and ddeokbokki (3,000) . I kind of sneered at this at first, especially when they drizzled some condensed milk on it, but it was really good. The halloumi like salty cheese really worked with the sweet sticky sauce. It was so good we had two each.
As well as the the more traditional Korean foods, you’ll find the popular fad type snacks like the swirly long potato. This baby is always on more or less any Korean street food must try list and for good reason, it’s bloody delicious. I like to think if it as a really big hand cooked crisp (or chip for Americans). It also comes in two flavours, cheese or onion, so for 3,000 won you cant go wrong.
There were an awful lot of desserts last night and one of the most popular was a banana and Nutella crepe. However we opted for a fish shaped waffle stuffed with ice cream and topped with a nugget of golden honey comb. I adore the Korean waffle type desserts, but rarely eat them as they are usually stuffed with red bean paste, which I loathe. But the open fish mouth was genius and ice cream and honey comb was the perfect filling.
For anyone visiting Seoul for the first time, Myeong-dong it’s the perfect stop for those who want to shop and eat. I went with my friend last week and and I’ll be going again with my parents in a few weeks time when they come to visit. The food isn’t of outstanding quality but the sheer amount of different dishes to try more than makes up for it. So as long as you don’t mind a bit of jostling with swarms of Chinese tourists, it’s a fun night out.