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Sindang-dong's Tteokbokki Alley

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Sindang-dong's Tteokbokki Alley


Sindang-dong's Tteokbokki Alley




Tteokbokki (떡볶이) may not seem like much, but is Korea's most popular snack food. It is commonly purchased from pojangmacha (포장마차; street vendors), making it also Korea's most popular street food. So what is tteokbokki exactly?

 

 

Tteokbokki Tteokbokki: Tteokbokki is made of stir-fried rice cakes. There are largely two types of tteokbokki: gungjung tteokbokki (궁중 떡볶이) made with ganjang (간장; Korean soy sauce), and spicy tteokbokki made with gochujang (고추장; red chili pepper paste).





Tteokbokki has been eaten in Korea for several centuries. The earliest remaining records of tteokbokki can be found in the famous Korean cookbook "Siuijeonseo", which was written in the 1800s.

Although the tteokbokki we are familiar with today is red and spicy, the first forms of tteokbokki were made with ganjang. Called gungjung tteokbokki, (“gungjung” meaning “royal”), the original version of tteokbokki was once a part of Korean royal court cuisine. Gungjung tteokbokki is a stir-fried dish consisting of garaetteok (가래떡; cylinder-shaped tteok) combined with a variety of ingredients such as beef, mung bean sprouts, green onions, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, and onions, and seasoned with soy sauce.

Then in the 1950s, a new type of tteokbokki became very popular. While the older version was a savory dish, this newer type was spicy (due to the use of gochujang), and quickly became more popular than the older traditional dish. Although gungjung tteokbokki is still eaten today, the newer, spicier version of tteokbokki is the kind that most people are familiar with. Other ingredients added to tteokbokki include boiled eggs, odeng (오뎅; fish cakes), pan-fried mandu (만두; Korean dumplings), sausages, ramyeon (라면; ramen noodles) and cheese.
 
Tteokbokki is considered to be one of Korea's most popular snack foods. Walk onto any street in Seoul and you'll find a tteokbokki restaurant or pojangmacha around every corner. But the origins of tteokbokki in Seoul can be found in Sindang-dong's Tteokbokki Alley.  

Mabongnim Tteokbokki (마복림 떡볶이) is considered to be the first tteokbokki restaurant in this alley. This restaurant has been cooking up hot, delicious tteokbokki for over 60 years, ever since it started up in 1953. Back then, Dongdaemun Stadium was still around and in its prime, so most of their customers were baseball fans coming to grab a bite to eat before and after the games. Nowadays, this restaurant, amongst others in the food alley see all sorts of characters, including middle school and high school students who have saved up their money to buy a tasty treat with their friends.


Sindang-dong's Tteokbokki Town

This food alley is always busy, day or night. On the weekends it gets even busier, so expect to see customers waiting in long lines out the door.




Tteokbokki ingredients are pre-prepared in large woks
Left: Lines can get very long, so tteokbokki ingredients are pre-prepared in large woks.
Right: Just like with Korean barbeque, the food is cooked right at the table.




There are a few basic ingredients that are found in any tteokbokki recipe. The most key ingredient of tteokbokki is of course, tteok, or rice cakes. Gochujang is the second most important ingredient, as it serves as the major seasoning of the dish. Vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, onions and green onions are almost always added. But from this point on, anything goes. You can add on an order of ramyeon noodles, jjolmyeon noodles, eomuk or friend mandu. You can order one add-on or all four, it's up to you. Tteokbokki is served in large woks and cooked right at the table. Once the tteokbokki starts to bubble, be sure to stir it every so often to prevent the rice cakes from sticking to the bottom. If your tteokbokki came with ramyeon noodles, you can go ahead and eat them first as they don't take very long to cook.     

When the sauce starts to get thicker and goes from red to a bright red-orange color, that's your cue to turn the heat down and to start eating! You'll find that the tteok has become soft and chewy from bubbling away in the sauce. If you really want to enjoy this meal, cut some of the fried mandu in half so that the tteokbokki sauce can seep in, and smash up some of the eggs and mix them into the sauce as well. Usually your tteokbokki will come with a banchan (side dish) of danmuji, a sweet and sour yellow pickled radish that goes well with the hot, spiciness of tteokbokki. At some restaurants you can even get bokkeumbap at the end of your meal! Rice and kimgaru (김가루; laver flakes) can be added to your leftover tteokbokki sauce, but be warned, this is only for those with big appetites! 
 


The image of cooking Tteokbokki
Left: Make sure you stir every so often once it starts to bubble to prevent the rice cakes from sticking to the bottom.
Right: Ramyeon noodles don't take very long to cook, so start your meal off by eating them first!



You can have rice and seaweed flakes added to the leftover tteokbokki sauce to make bokkeumbap, or fried rice
The meal isn't over once the tteokbokki is all gone! You can have rice and seaweed flakes added to the leftover tteokbokki sauce to make bokkeumbap, or fried rice!



Musician's performance
The largest tteokbokki restaurant in this alley is a restaurant called "I Love Sindang-dong". Here, in addition to eating delicious tteokbokki, you can watch musicians perform.




How to Get There

 

Take subway line 2 or 6 to Sindang Station and go out exit 8. Walk about 100 meters to reach the beginning of Tteokbokki Alley.

 

The way to go Sindang-dong's Tteokbokki Town


A. Mabongnim (마복림 떡볶이): 02-2232-8930
B. Mangnae Adeulne (막내아들네): 02-2253-1466
C. Mini-ne (미니네): 02-2232-4425
C. Ujeong (우정): 02-2233-0669
E. Wonjo Jongjum (원조 종점): 02-2234-3649
F. Urijip (우리집): 02-2232-4531
G. Samdae Halmeonne (삼대할먼네): 02-2233-1559
H. Deulgukhwa (들국화): 02-2235-2967
I. I Love Sindang-dong (아이러브신당동): 02-2232-7872
J. Yaksok Tteokbokki (약속떡볶이): 02-2252-2616

Hours : Most places are open 24/7

Prices : 11,000 won for two people

Related Events : The Tteokbokki Festival takes place every October.




Nearby Attractions

 

Dongdaemun Market

Chungmu Art Hall

Dongdaemun History & Culture Park

Dongdaemun Market:
Korea's largest wholesale and retail shopping district comprised of traditional markets and shopping centers.

See more>>
Chungmu Art Hall:
Chungmu Art Hall is founded by the Jung-gu Cultural Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes and fosters classical and contemporary Korean music and art.
See more>>
Dongdaemun History & Culture Park: The park features Dongdaemun Design Plaza, which is expected to be a world-leading design center in addition to the restored archaeological remains of Seoul Seonggwak (Fortress Wall).