All The Street Food To Try At The Jinhae Gunhangje Cherry Blossom Festival In South Korea
From the famous tteokbokki to the more seasonal cherry blossom bread, we show you the must-try street food we found at South Korea’s Cherry Blossom Festival
The Jinhae Gunhangje or Cherry Blossom Festival in South Korea is one of the biggest spring festivals in the world, attracting at least 2 million visitors every year to celebrate the beauty of springtime. This year, the Cherry Blossom Festival was held from March 31 to April 10, and Metro Channel’s Pia’s Postcards was able to make it to the festival!
Pia’s Postcards is returning this September for a brand new season and the show is dropping by all the interesting festivals all around the world. For its premiere episode, Pia Wurtzbach is joined by the Korea Tourism Organization’s new honorary ambassador to the Philippines Sue Ramirez to experience this one-of-a-kind festival.
The Jinhae Gunhangje is many things—from the beautiful display of cherry blossoms and parades, to the fireworks and air shows by the Republic of Korea Air Force. But probably one of the most interesting things happening in the festival is the abundance of street food that you shouldn’t miss.
We run down all the must-try treats that we found during the Cherry Blossom Festival, and we hope you can hunt them down on your next visit to South Korea!
One of the more familiar treats to try during the festival, Korea’s version of pork barbecue are super long skewers of pork (twice to at most thrice the usual length of our Pinoy barbecue) glazed in a sweet and salty sauce.
Tteokbokki, which literally translates to “stir-fried rice cake,” is a very popular street food in Korea and was one of Sue’s favorites on the trip. The rice cakes, which look like thick, short noodles rather than cake, are also served with fish cakes swimming in a spicy soup or sauce.
Popular in the Busan area, ssiat hotteok is a Korean-style pancake that’s best eaten as dessert. Crispy fried dough is folded and then filled with a sweet, sugary syrup.
Are those silkworm pupae? Yes, they are! The same way that we have fried crickets and chicken feet, Korea has its own exotic delicacies like beondegi. The pupae are steamed in a large vat, and then served in paper cups with toothpicks. According to Pia, the beondegi tastes like wet chicharon that’s still crispy and very delicious!
In English, they’re fish waffles. This fish-shaped pastry is popular during wintertime in Korea, but during the Cherry Blossom Festival, they are also plentiful on the streets for visitors and tourists to try. The pastry is usually filled with red bean paste, but nowadays, you can get different kinds of fillings like cream cheese, chocolate, and custard. While there is no real explanation for its fish shape, bungeoppang was a delicacy brought to Korea by the Japanese in the 1930s.
As a fellow rice-loving nation, Korea has a number of rice-based street food, just like our kakanin. On the streets, it is common to find Korean sushi or gimbap, which is basically rice wrapped in seaweed. Gimbap comes with different fillings like meat, spinach, tofu, egg roll, or pickled radish, and they’re served with a side of kimchi.
You can find kimchi in Korea almost everywhere—even inside dumplings! Mandu are Korean dumplings either boiled in a noodle soup or fried, usually filled with pork, sweet onions, and a load of kimchi for heat.
One of the favorites of Pia during her Korean food adventure was pajeon or deep-fried pancakes. These savory pancakes take on different sizes and ingredients: some are filled with just leeks and onions, some with squid and shrimp, and some, of course, with kimchi.
Cherry Blossom Bread
Probably the official signature food of the festival is cherry blossom bread. A Jinhae specialty, it is essentially a small egg-and-flour cake shaped like a cherry blossom, and filled in the center with cherry blossom syrup. It’s not very sweet, yet very fluffy, and attracts a huge line during the festival because of its novelty.
Want more of the festival and Pia’s South Korean experience? Experience the Jinhae Gunhangje Cherry Blossom Festival as if you are there in the flesh on Pia’s Postcards, premiering on September 22, 7 p.m., only on Metro Channel, channel 52 on Sky Cable and channel 174 on HD. Also available on iWant.
Photos in banner image from @gees_travel_deals_official and @les_deux_crapahuteurs