Delight in Gwangjang Market’s Traditional Korean Fare
February 15, 2017
Korea’s traditional markets are characterized by their densely-packed small shops. Food, clothing, household items, and much more can be purchased at affordable prices, and every market has a plethora of dining options, so shopping and meals can be enjoyed together. After exploring a few traditional markets in Korea last December, we conclude that Gwangjang Market is our favourite!
Open for over a century, Gwangjang Market is the place to go for food, hanbok (traditional Korean clothing), textiles, newlywed home furnishings and items needed for traditional wedding ceremonies and more. Short of time? Well, you can basically skip all sections, and just focus on gorging yourselves silly along the narrow food lanes! We noticed many locals jostling around with tourists along these food lanes for bindaetteok (mung bean pancake) and mayak gimbap (gimbap that’s so addictive that it is almost like a “mayak”, or drug). As we’ve already tried these two items at other markets, we decided to go for other popular foods. Here are two must-try items at Gwangjang Market!
It’s an interesting sight to watch the Ajummas (aunty) constantly mixing the flour in a clock-work style, while adding different ingredients ranging from a variety of vegetables to seafood and meat. Each pancake costs about 4,000-5,000krw, depending on the ingredients added in. The minced meat pancake is superb! Every bite boasts the pancake’s crispy texture, with flavours enhanced by the marinated minced meat. On the other hand, we didn’t really like the vegetable pancake, which was a tad too plain. Expect a queue if you’re visiting the market during meal times. You also have to be prepared to smell of grease after leaving the area.
If you’re a stranger to Bibimbap, it’s a Korean word which literally translates to “mixed rice”. Sautéed and seasonal vegetables (namul), chilli pepper paste (gochujang), soy sauce, and a fermented soybean paste (doenjang) is presented beautifully atop a bowl of warm white rice. Just give this rice dish a good toss before savouring! There is a particular stall along the food lanes serving freshly prepared vegetables, so fresh that each mouthful is full of crunch! We would’ve indulged in more bowls of bibimbap if our stomachs could be expanded. Personally, this is the best bibimbap we’ve tried in Seoul! Each bowl costs around 5,000krw.
There are also other stalls offering Tteokbokki (rice cakes), handmade dumplings, seafood such as crabs marinated with different sauces and sashimi, as well as, pork trotters, just to name a few. It’s good to arrive on a empty stomach so you can feast to your heart’s content at Gwangjang Market.
Gwangjang Market Details
Address: 88 Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Nearest Train Station: Jongno 5(o)-ga Station (Line 1) Exits 1, 7 and 8
Opening Hours: 9am to 10pm daily but hours vary by stalls