It is often hard to pick just one food as the best across a staple genre. You would think it would be hard to choose the best tteokbokki in Seoul, but I can confidently say it is at Halmunee Tteokbokki in Tongin Market. So why is this THE BEST?
Texture and Shape – A soft tteok unlike any you have ever tasted. Perfectly soft on the inside while also perfectly crisped out the outside. A special go-soo-han taste you can only get by frying in a hot wok with sesame oil. These ddukbboki are much skinnier than normal ones you will find on the streets of Korea.
Flavors– The 2 flavors are spicy gochugaru and go soo hahn sesame oil. My preference is to get one order of each and eat them together. The spicy is great because the large flakes of dried pepper add a nice texture to the ddeok.
Price-I believe this is around W2,500/per serving or $2.50 a serving.
Yearning/Longing/Memory– No other ddukbboki has created such a lasting impression. I can only eat this when I visit Korea, but I think about this ddukbboki once a month while I’m in the states. The only other food from Korea I think about as frequently is ramen from Hakatabunko in Hongdae….My husband has been going to this special market stand since he was an elementary student. He introduced me and any of his friends who visit Korea. It is not uncommon for us to see someone who has not been there with us for many years, but will talk about how much they want to eat this. There are only a handful of foods that you can reminisce about with others and this is one of them
Halmunee/Owner– The owner of this stand has been doing this for decades. In Korean, Halmunee, means grandmother. It was always a pleasure for me to sit at the bar while the same Halmunee made her many years perfected specialty. You can tell she takes great pride in her recipe. Photos of the Halmunee and her family hang behind the counter. The last time I visited, it appeared the operation had become so successful that her family members are also cooking and managing the stand. The Halmunee was there to watch over them, and the taste was the same.
For the last 7 years I have been visiting this Ddukbboki Stand and it has only become more popular with time. The last time I visited in December 2014, there were many people waiting for a seat. I heard one man say he traveled 3 hours to eat this. There was a special buzz of excitement, similar to the feeling one has when they get a seat at Totto Ramen before they opened their second location. This market and stand were also featured on episode 151 of Running Man. You can watch the segment 14 minutes into this video.
This market is also situated in a great location near Jongno, Samcheongdong, Gyeongbokgung Palace, Bukchon Hanok Village, and Cheonggyecheon. The famous, oldschool, samgyetang restaurant, Tosokchon is just around the corner from the market. You can check out another English review of this special ddukbboki at Hungry Trojan.