December 12, 2012
Sindang Tteokbokki Town
Sindang Tteokbokki Town (신당 떡볶이 타운) is the place where the residents of Seoul go to satisfy their cravings for tteokbokki, the ultimate in Korean street food. For the uninitiated, tteokbokki is a kind of rice cake that is cooked until fairly soft inside a spicy sauce, which is made of chili paste, fish cakes, and whatever else the cook feels like using. Running the gamut from thick and creamy to watery in texture, every middle-aged Korean lady that takes charge of a food stall has her own way of cooking the ubiquitous dish.
One of the most well-known of Korea’s culinary exports, Seoul’s Sindang area has an entire street dedicated to tteokbokki.
After our mind-clearing walk along the Han River, Gil Dong and I decided to head to Sindang to enjoy some of the neighbourhood’s famous tteokbokki for lunch, before catching our bus back to Daejeon. Sindang subway stop is located on lines number 2 and 6. For the sake of simplicity, coming from line 6 is better, as you can go directly out of gate 8. If you take line 2, you have to exit at gate 4, then find gate 8 – which isn’t as simple as it should be. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, it’s probably best to check out a map before you go.
As soon as you find Sindang Tteokbokki Town, you’ll come across a load of rather friendly touts trying to get you inside their restaurant. Gil Dong directed us to Mabongnim (마복림), the most famous of the tteokbokki restaurants. We were faced with a long queue when we got inside, but had to wait no more than three minutes. Tteokbokki isn’t the kind of food you linger over – it’s very much an eat it and then leave kind of scenario, so everything moves pretty quickly.
We ordered the standard set, which includes tteokbokki, ramen, a couple of hard-boiled eggs, some mandu (Korean fried dumplings) and odeng (Korean fish cakes). The melange was brought to us in a giant pan, which we then cooked for about ten minutes or so until the sauce thickened and the ramen softened up.
The whole meal came to 10,000 won (around $10) and was enough to feed the two of us. Was it the best tteokbokki I’ve ever had? No, probably not, but it was definitely delicious and a must-visit for any foodie in Seoul looking to get down with the local cuisine, and a perfect way to warm up on a chilly winter’s day.
So there you have it folks! Now, I want to hear from you! Have you ever been to Sindang Tteokbokki Town before? If so, what did you think? Are you a fan of tteokbokki, or have you yet to try it? Let us know in the comments below, or shout out on Facebook or Twitter.