Tasty Budget Food in South Korea

Ho Bbang Korea - Travellistic

Pork Mandu

Although places like Thailand and India get all the kudos for having delicious street food, don’t overlook South Korea. It’s very easy to find delicious snacks and meals that are easy on your budget.

What’re you looking for?

A small cup of coffee for 300 won ($0.26)? We’ve got ya covered.

A steamed bun for 1000 won ($0.87)? Yup, right across the street!

A skewer of marinated pork for 1500 won ($1.31)? No problem.

A big bowl of pork soup (with side dishes) for 4500 won ($3.94)? Eat it up!

Delicious Budget Food

Spicy Ho Bbang in Korea - Travellistic

Spicy Kimchi Mandu

Mandu – steamed buns filled with meat and vegetables. They’re delicious by themselves or with some soup. I can buy these across the street from my apartment for 1000 won each. They’re about the size of a sandwich. The place has regular pork, these spicy pork buns, and one with sweet red beans. I prefer the pork ones. Two make a good meal.

Korean Dinner - Pork Soup - Travellistic

Soondae Guk

Sundae Guk – pork soup with vegetables. There are noodles wrapped in a small piece of pork intestine. At the place down the street from me, there are two small pieces. It doesn’t taste bad but if it grosses you out, just don’t eat them. The bowl of soup is a generous portion and comes with a side of rice, kimchi, and various other things that I can’t name but taste good. I sprinkle a little salt and pepper on top, stir in some rice, add the onions, a few pieces of the (cured?) pork slices, and add a little chili paste. It’s spicy, filling, and cheap. Only 4500 won near my house. My Director (boss at school) said it runs from 4000-6000 depending on the restaurant. Don’t worry about sweating from the spice, just grab a little napkin and wipe your face. If you need another pitcher of water or a refill of the sides (like kimchi) you have to ask. The servers don’t come around and harass you in the middle of a bite like in America.

Tempura in Korea - Travellistic

Mixed Bag of Tempura

Tempura – fried vegetables and meat with a delicious breading. I didn’t know Koreans ate tempura but I guess it makes sense. On the ground floor of my apartment building there’s a place that sells this bag of tempura for only 2500 won. There are two shrimp, two squid pieces, two sweet potatoes, a pair of seaweed wrapped noodles (kind of like tempura vegetable rolls but just noodles), and one that’s a mix of shredded vegetables. Definitely not enough for a meal, but I like to grab this and munch it on the way to the bus stop before work.

Kimbob and Soup in Korea - Travellistic

Great tasting kimbap and soup.

Kimbap and Soup – In the building where I teach, there’s a small restaurant on the 3rd floor. Each kimbap roll is 2000 won and the soup is free. They have really good mandu dumplings too, three for 1000 won. It’s makes a great lunch. The kimbob has vegetables, egg, crab and ham in it. If you don’t like sushi because raw meat grosses you out – no worries! There’s no raw meat, so if you like California Rolls you should like kimbob too. Of course, there are varieties but regular kimbap is generally made like this.

Bulgogi Stick in Korea - Travellistic

Marinated bulgogi on a stick.

Bulgogi Stick – Marinated and cooked to perfection. This tasty treat is only 1500 won. The place also sells a cheese filled pork sausage, fried chicken on a stick, and other snacks.

Hot Dog Pastry in Korea - Travellistic

Pig in a blanket – Korean style.

Pig in a Blanket – I have no idea what the Korean name is for this but it’s basically a hot dog in a slightly sweetened pastry. My Director bought a bunch of stuff from the bakery and this was among the choices. It was surprisingly good for being cold. The package contains two pastries and runs about 1500 won. The store is called Cake Town and they have a lot of delicious snacks – a ham sandwich for 1200 won, a chilled seafood salad sandwich for 1500 won, an “American Style” hamburger which is not even remotely American-style (but is very good), and many other pastries.

Bulgogi Sandwich in Korea - Travellistic

Bulgogi, Bacon, Egg and Cheese

Bulgogi Sandwich – There’s a place down the street called Isaac Toast & Coffee and they make these great sandwiches. I’ve had several different types since you have a choice of toppings. My favorite so far is bulgogi and bacon – 2500 won. The ham sandwich is good too and cheap – only 1900 won. The egg has bits of corn and shredded carrot but you can’t really taste it. All the sandwiches have cheese, a light spread of “sweet sauce”, and the bulgogi sandwiches include a light spread of BBQ sauce.

American Brand – Korean Influence

BBQ Pork Doritos in Korea - Travellistic

A good but rare treat.

These don’t taste like normal Doritos, not just because they’re BBQ pork flavor, but they have a different texture and the flavoring isn’t over the top like back home. It’s a light but hearty flavor. I also tried a small bag of BBQ pork Cheetos too, same thing – light flavor and different texture. I won’t be eating them again since they’re fatty but I tried them for the novelty.

There’s a lot more great food here in South Korea. These few things barely scratch the surface.

Have you been to Korea? What budget friendly foods have you enjoyed?

Thanks for reading!