Best Seoul Eats at One Stop Gwangjang Market

If you go to just one market in Seoul, Korea, make it Gwangjang Market.
Gwangjang Market is renown for its fresh market foods. Featured traditional Korean food worth sampling include bindaetteok, mayak kimbap, soondae, pigs’ feet, bibimbap, and lots more, all complimented by a bottle of makgeolli or soju.

Bindaetteok 빈대떡 – Korean Pancakes (not spicy)

Yes, I came to Gwangjang Market for the Bindaetteok, and it was so worth it! Sometimes I feel like the journey to Seoul was worth it just to savour the tasty Bindaetteok.

Bindaetteok  - Korean Pancakes Made Fresh
Bindaetteok – Korean Pancakes Made Fresh

Bindaetteok is a savoury pancake made of mung beans. The mung beans are ground on site at revolving stone pestles, churning out a thick paste. The paste is mixed with bean sprouts, green onions, and garlic, and the batter is fried. What comes out is a hot, crispy, thick and hearty pancake which is served with a soy sauce, green onion, and chili pepper dipping sauce. Some bindaetteok can also be ordered with meat.
Fresh made hot, crispy, thick and hearty Bindaetteok
Fresh made hot, crispy, thick and hearty Bindaetteok

Bindaetteok cost 4,000 won in most eateries, and are quite large. Good idea to buy one to share. Order more as desired! Sit shoulder-to-shoulder at a number of benches around the stalls, two famous bindaetteok eateries in the market are Soonheenae Bindaetteok and Bakganae Bindaetteok. Bring cash, because most food vendors don’t take credit cards.

Kimchi Mandu 만두 – Steamed dumplings of meat and kimchi

Kimchi Mandu, or steamed dumplings of meat and kimchi.
Kimchi Mandu, or steamed dumplings of meat and kimchi.

The color of the mandu is slighty red from the transparency of the thinly rolled shell, meaning the red fillings can be seen through the doughy skin. Mandu are made on the spot and steamed immediately after taking an order, making them chewy and delicious. Mandu cost 5,000 won per plate.You’ll only find one type of mandu at Gwangjang Market because several shops copied the original shop when it became so popular among customers, according to a merchant legend.

Soondae 순대 – Korean version of blood sausages

Soondae (Korean version of blood sausages)
Soondae (Korean version of blood sausages)

It’s there, if you dare. I’ve heard it’s good.

Odeng 오뎅 – Fish cakes on a skewers eomuk (어묵)

Odeng - Fish cakes on a skewers eomuk (어묵)
Odeng – Fish cakes on a skewers eomuk (어묵)

When I first saw Odeng and a crowd hovering around the pot, I was curious but intimidated. How do I approach this food, and what is it – because it’s obviously popular! Odeng is tasty, filling and cheap, and it’s everywhere you go. Odeng is seasoned fishcakes formed into strips and then cooked. They are skewered onto wooden sticks for easy self serving. The threaded skewers on sticks sit in a broth. The broth is made of turnip and leeks with crab or dried seaweed added to deepen the flavour. At the stall, eat as many as you want, the vendor counts your sticks and you pay up. The broth is always free.

Friendly Atmosphere at Gwangjang Market

Gwangjang Market is welcoming. I don’t know if it’s just Korean friendliness, or the joy and pride in what they do, but this is one public market that is welcoming. Watching the crowds, whether it’s the gathering of friends, families or total strangers squeezed side by side in their favourite food stall, the overall atmosphere of the market is lively and friendly. In my case, I arrived alone and obviously not Korean, but was greeted into conversations with both shop owners, and other diners around the table, even with offers to share their makgeolli or soju.

More on Makgeolli rice wine.

Gwangjang Market is a Fun and Unique Travel Destination

Korean workers crowd the market all year round to sit at the benches lining each of the food stalls.

Gwangjang Market in the heart and soul of the Seoul

The Gwangjang Market established in 1905, and is Korea’s oldest remaining daily market. It is considered an outdoor market but is enjoyable all year round thanks to the glass roof to protect the stalls from rain and snow, and the steady heat from cooking.

About Gwangjang Market

The Gwangjang Market offers a huge range of items for shoppers, from clothing to cookware and household tools and machinery, The second floor of Gwangjang Market carries silk, satin, and linen bed-sheet stores, which are the largest and most famous in Seoul.

Many of the stores in the area even have their own factories supplying fabrics to the Namdaemun Market, Pyoung Hwa Market, and even to some department stores. The wide selection of high quality textiles at inexpensive prices makes it a fun bespoke clothing shopping experience.

The food stands are open seven days a week, usually from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. However, the clothing and fabric stores are closed Sundays.
Watch out for the indoor motorbikes delivering goods! Gwangjang is a thriving market.

Getting there. Walkable Seoul

If you’re staying downtown, it’s fun and easy to walk along the serene Cheonggyecheon Stream to Gwangjang Market. Gwangjang Market, is named for and is between the Gwanggyo and Janggyo Bridges along the Cheonggyecheon Stream. An estimate of 65,000 people visits the market every day. The market is also easily reachable by Metro from exits 7 and 8 of Jongno 5-ga Station. You can visit the official website for the market.
Cheonggyecheon Stream
See Cheonggyecheon is an almost 6 kilometre stream that flows through downtown Seoul.

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Enjoy 광장시장!