Youngchun Sijang Wonjo Tteokbokki 영천시장 원조 떡볶이 (Seodaemun, Seoul)

I receive a lot of email asking for personal recommendations that I have yet to cover on my website and SNS accounts. One such request is the most popular and beloved street food tteokbokki, spicy rice cakes found all over the city but only a handful of places doing them the right way. Look no further than your local jaerae sijang 재래시장 (traditional market) for the good stuff, which is where I found this

Bunshik 분식 joints are a dime a dozen in Seoul, selling street foods such as tteokbokki 뗙볶이, soondae 순대 (blood sausage), odeng 오뎅 (fish cake), and a variety of fried twigim 튀김. But none get any better than this 40-year-old modest eatery at Youngchun Market. Run by an elderly couple, they serve rice cakes made from rice (not wheat flour) in a fiery-looking sauce that is nostalgically old-school (not overly sweet and spicy). If that wasn’t good enough, the rice cakes here are the perfect, chewy size—not the long ones where you have to decide to eat half or risk getting a stain by eating it whole. The crispy twigim are equally delicious; deep-fried in clean oil (no rancidity at all) and not sitting out bunched/crowded together like other places. As per custom, you can have your twigim mixed together with the rice cakes or have them separately, the latter being my preference to ensure the twigim stay crisp and crunchy. No matter what you decide, the two make for a perfect marriage of irresistible flavors and textures.

Foods sold at any bunshik eatery are always inexpensive, but this simple combination is an absolute steal at 4,000 won (from my knowledge prices have recently increased to 3,000 won per serving across the board, minus the 500 won fish cakes). Highly recommend eating here and then burning off the carbs inside the traditional market or nearby at Independence Park, which houses Seodaemun Prison and other historic sites just outside the station.

Food: ★★★★ out of 5 stars

Service: ★★★★ out of 5 stars

Ambiance: ★★★½ out of 5 stars

Value: ★★★★ ½ out of 5 stars

Youngchun Sijang Wonjo Tteokbokki 영천시장 원조 떡볶이

Youngchun-dong 57-12 (서대문구 영천동 57-12) Dongnimmun Station (Orange Line 3) Exit 4

Hours: Open every day 9:00 am ~ 9:00 pm except major holidays

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