5 great places to grab a quick bite in Seoul

Make like the locals and head to these cool diners where snacking on dumplings, noodles and more has been perfected into a fine art.

A man holds out two plates of dumplings.
  • Erin Craig
  • September 2019

Snacking is big in South Korea and the word bunsik refers to the light, inexpensive meals you can get from snack houses (bunsik jip). Think of it as fast food, with emphasis on ‘fast’ not ‘fat’. Here are some great places to try.

Gongdeok Market’s Jeon Alley

Traditional markets all have a street food specialty and Gongdeok is the place for all things fried. Fill a basket from the confectionery-style displays of pan-fried (jeon) and deep-fried (twigim) snacks. Savoury pancakes, stuffed perilla leaves, seafood… basically everything is better fried. Intimidated by the choices? You can order a pre-set assortment in the restaurants behind the stands.

Dosan Bunsik

Gangnam’s new eatery Dosan Bunsik opens in new window reimagines the typical student food shack as a “new wave” diner, complete with a flowering neon logo. The menu covers classics like tteokbokki (stir-fried rice cakes) and pork cutlet sandwiches but delivers them all dolled up and ready for Instagram. Come on a weekend evening and you’ll be waiting outside in a crowd of selfie-takers

A plate of tteokbokki (stir-fried rice cakes).
Dosan Bunsik puts a trendy spin on South Korean classics like tteokbokki (stir-fried rice cakes).

Mimine

Tteokbokki is a popular night-time street snack but if you want it at midday (or sitting down), head to Mimine opens in new window in the Hongdae shopping district. They serve up two kinds of tteokbokki – original and spicy. Be warned: spicy is not messing around.

Myeongdong Kyoja

This isn’t your typical noodle joint – for starters, there are three Michelin Bib Gourmand awards (2017-2019) posted in the entryway. No wonder this workaday family restaurant opens in new window is always hopping; it wows with the food. The star dish is kalguksu, noodles in salty broth topped with meat and dumplings. Service is fast and both branches are located in shopping mecca Myeongdong.

A bowl of kalguksu (noodles in broth topped with meat).
Kalguksu - noodles in broth topped with meat - is the signature dish of Myeongdong Kyoja.

Bukchon Son Mandu

Every Asian culture has its own style of dumpling and Korea’s is mandu. This chain favourite opens in new window is easy to spot from the clouds of steam billowing out the front. There are three main types of mandu on offer: meat, kimchi and shrimp. (They’re all great, but seriously, get the kimchi.) You can order takeaway or grab a stool at the narrow counter. Don’t forget the dipping sauce and crisp yellow radish.