It’s time to take a closer look at my favorite Korean dish: tteokbokki (떡볶이). Tteok are little stir-fried rice cake rolls which can be served sweet or spicy. Strolling around Korea you can buy the red-orange tteokbokki as part of the famous Korean street food everywhere. Usually they offer you the simple version of tteokbokki with red chili paste (고추장 – gochujang) and fish cake (오뎅 – odeng). It’s a pretty delicious snack on the go.
However, I want to introduce you to the best way of serving tteokbokki, in my opinion, at the best place one can eat tteokbokki in Seoul: in Tteokbokki Town. Yes, there is actually a place called Tteokbokki Town. The area is famous for its tteokbokki restaurants since the 80s and they serve stomach filling tteokbokki dishes there.
Tteokbokki is served in a big wok which is placed on a little stove on your table. Besides tteok and chili paste you get thick noodles (쫄면 – jjolmyeon), ramen noodles (라면 – ramyeon), boiled eggs, fish cake, fried mandu aka Korean dumplings (튀긴만두 – twegin-mandu), onions, cabbage and carrots. The ramyeon will be propably ready first, so you can soothe your hungry stomach already. Wait until the tteokbokki starts to bubble and the sauce turnes thicker and orange. Don’t forget to stir inbetween, and then dig in! It is soooo yummy! I’m not a sea food fan, but I don’t really taste any fish from the odeng, so that’s no problem for me. Some foreigners find tteok a little too squeezy and chewy which is the whole charm of it. Guess, you’ll have to try yourself if you mind.
The restaurants in Tteokbokki Town only offer tteokbokki and you order depends on how many people (servings) you are having lunch with or which ingredients you want to add. As typical in Korea everyone eats together out of one bowl and on your personal little plate you can either let the ramen noodles cool down (only Koreans know how to eat boiling hot ramyeon in on go) or stack your “side dishes” (반찬 – banchan), pickles and radish, which help with the spicyness.
Sadly, I forgot which restaurant I went to. I believe it was the most famous and oldest one, Mabongnim Tteokbokki, but I’m reall not sure. I guess all restaurants are pretty good as the place is so busy, especially at night and on weekends. Koreans just know it’s the best place to eat tteokbokki and a packed restaurant with natives is always an inmistakable sign of well prepared food with the “true taste” of a country. If you may have to wait for a short time, I tell you, it is absolutely worth it. So be polite and don’t stay for a chat after you finished, but pay right away so other hungry customers can have a tasty dinner. I’m also not sure about the price (geeze, getting old), but I guess around 15 000 – 18 000 Won (10 – 12 €) for three people.
☞ Directions: Get off at 신당역 (Sindang Station), exit 8. You can get there by taking the green subway line 2 or
brown line 6. Turn left right after coming up the stairs and just walk straight. At the second crossing you will find the neon sign “신당동떡볶이타운” on an arch above your head. Now it’s just up to you in which restaurant you want to head in.
To enter Tteokbokki Town coming from the south of Seoul, get off at 청구역 (Cheonggu Station, brown line 6). Follow the main street after turning left when you got out of exit 1. Walk down the third street on your left and turn right again at the next crossing. Just a few more steps to a hot bowl of tteokbokki.