Monday, June 20, 2011

Korean Street Food - Pojangmacha (포장마차)

A typical street food scene in Korea
Pojangmacha [포장마차] (literally meaning covered wagon) is the central hub of street food culture of Korea. Go out to any busy city street at night (in Korea, of course). In every corner of the street, you'll see a pojangmacha. Says wikipedia :

Pojangmacha refers to small tented restaurants on wheels, or street stalls in South Korea which sell a variety of popular street foods such as hotteoktteokbokkisundaeodeng, and anju (dishes accompanied with drinking). It literally means "covered wagon" in Korean.[1] They are largely divided into two kinds-- one for snacks during the daytime and the other for drinking during the nighttime. The latter most commonly serves soju and anju more appropriate when consuming this alcoholic beverage.
Pojangmacha is a popular place to have a snack or drink late into the night. The food sold in these places can usually be eaten quickly while standing or taken away. Some offer cheap chairs or benches for customers to sit, especially the ones serving late night customers who come to drink soju.

Pojangmacha will generally look like this inside :
Food : Pojangmacha generally sells all kinds of food. But here is a list of Korean street food you'll probably find in pojangmacha.

1. Tokbokki(떡볶이). It's like a stir-fried rice cake and fish cake with spicy sauce. A very popular Korean snack food.

2. Fish cake(Odeng) with broth. See those things on the top left corner of the table? It's fish cake on a stick. It's served with the broth. Awesome in cold weather and if you ask nicely, they'll generally give you the broth for free :]

3. Tempura(튀김). Fried zucchinis, potatoes, sweet potatoes, peppers, shrimps, fish, and so on. It's the same tempura (fried) food you see in Japanese restaurants.

4. Soondae (Korean blood sausage). Originally made with pig intestines and rice/noodles, but there are lots of variations. My personal favorite. Often served with other parts like liver. Some people like it stir-fried with Tokbokki.

5. Simple noodles, Japanese udon, ramen, and soupy food.

6. Other stir-fried food like, chicken gizzards. See more here.

Why Pojangmacha?
Pro
It's street food; it's quick, it's really cheap. It's easily accessible, food is made on the spot. It's everywhere. Can't find a decent place to enjoy the night or just simply broke? Pojangmacha never fails (almost).

Con
Well, I wouldn't say it's the best quality food out there. There has also been some health concerns because the 'kichen' is more or less exposed to outside, and these places probably don't clean everything perfectly.

But hey, if you happen to be in Korea, Pojangmacha is a must-go. Try it sometime.

2 comments:

  1. i really wanted to try this place when i visited Seoul last March, but i can't speak Korean so wasn't able to try

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    Replies
    1. Neither do I speak. Nonetheless, the most fantastic thing that might happen to someone is dare the opportunity on be in a different culture and challenge a communication. Make yourself a list of sentences and get lost, literally...

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