In the three most popular nightlife areas of Hongdae, Gangnam, and Itaewon, most restaurants and food stalls stay open until the bars and clubs are closed, which is about 6 or 7 a.m., or when the last person stumbles out the door. You usually won’t have to walk more than two minutes outside of a bar to find some delicious late night eats. The best part? Almost everything that you’ll find is under 5,000 won ($5USD).
Korean cuisine, in general, consists of rice, meats, seafood, freshly grown vegetables (onions, mushrooms, cucumbers, garlic, bean sprouts), and a liberal amount of red pepper spices or dipping sauces. Don’t forget about the national dish called kimchi -- a spicy fermented cabbage that is served alongside every meal. The most typical type of late-night restaurant to enjoy is Korean BBQ, where you’ll be in charge of cooking your meat on a grill in the middle of the table. You will be served a healthy number of side dishes in little bowls (vegetables, soups, sauces) to go along with your fresh meat. It’s absolutely incredible.
For late night eats in Seoul, you will have three options: dining at a Korean BBQ restaurant, eating at a hole-in-the wall place, or trying a street food stall. The dishes you’ll find at the latter two are fast foods that are readily available to order.
The following are my favorite types of Korean fast foods that you can find at any small restaurant or street vendor:
Steamed rice and other vegetables rolled up in dried pieces of seaweed. It’s similar to sushi, but without fish.
Bite-sized pieces of soft rice cake, fish cake and red sweet chili sauce.
Blood sausage; boiled cow or pig intestines stuffed with various ingredients.
Korean dumplings, stuffed with either kimchi, minced meat, tofu, shrimp or green onions and garlic.
Fried Hot Dogs
A hot dog that is double battered and double fried on a stick. They are dangerously addicting.
So now that you know some of the tastiest street foods in Seoul, where can you find them? Here are the top three areas:
The hipster area of Seoul with a younger, college-type crowd. There are more bars and clubs than I can count, and all the late-night food stalls and restaurants are lined up on the main road.
This is the posh and expensive area where all of Seoul’s best EDM night clubs are located. After clubbing, it’s more likely that you’ll find a hole-in-the-wall restaurant than an outside food vendor. These restaurants are scattered around everywhere, so you can’t miss them.
This trendy district of Seoul is saturated with upscale bars and lounges that attract the young to middle-aged crowd. There is a perfect mix of both foreigners and Koreans. You can find all sorts of international dishes and Korean spots along the main road.
About this Night Lifer
Drew’s blog, The Hungry Partier, inspires people to step out of their comfort zones and create maximal amounts of fun around the world. His writing focuses on nightlife guides, travel tips, and the crazy experiences that he's encountered across 50+ countries.