When you think of east Asia, one of the first things that comes to mind is the wide selection of markets throughout the region. Korea is no different. Cheonan is home to several markets such as fish markets, flea markets, and the occasional (yet fun) night market. Night markets tend to pop up as the weather warms up and they are a great way to wind down and explore local foods.
I had the chance to visit the Oh Rock night market located just across from the Cheonan subway station. You can also take any local bus to the Cheonan station stop to reach it. You can’t miss the market as there is normally music playing to draw your attention to the neon colored sign at the entrance. I went on a Friday night around 8 pm just as it began to get dark. Surprisingly the market wasn’t very crowded when I arrived but traffic began to pick up as I was leaving.
The market isn’t very big compared to some of the other night markets in the area. There were maybe around 10 food stands lining the alleyway. However, there are several restaurants and clothing stores open in the same alley too so it gives you a few extra options if the food stands don’t offer anything pleasing to your taste buds.
When I first arrived, I decided to just take it all in first. I walked by each stand to see what was offered before making any decisions on what foods to try. The vendors were very friendly but at the same time not very pushy in trying to get you to purchase from their stand. That’s always a plus. I walked to the very end of the alley just to guarantee that I didn’t miss anything.
Once I circled back around, I decided to try the stand that offered a grilled steak like sushi. It reminded me more of sashimi as it was a thin slice of steak over a little sticky rice. The vendor grilled the steak on a flat top via a gas torch until it was perfectly cooked. He even gave a little show by creating a large flame at the end. He plated the food and topped it with fresh white onions and a sweet brown sauce. (Likely a mix of soy sauce and teriyaki sauce). I ordered 6 pieces for 5,000 won. There was a second option with a few more pieces for a few more won. The food was pretty good. My only complaint was that I wanted more! However, I couldn’t overdo it as I had more stands to try
I decided that my next purchase would be a grilled lamb skewer. One skewer was 1,000 won. Just like the steak vendor, this vendor cooked the meat to order to ensure it was nice and hot. After the meat is cooked, you have the option to roll your skewer is a seasoning mix. The vendor rolled my skewer in the mix for me, but I was happy that he did. The lamb was very tasty and the seasoning gave it the perfect amount of added flavor. The skewers aren’t very big so I actually ended up ordering a second one soon after.
My last and final purchase (my stomach simply couldn’t take much more) was at a stand that offered a coffee bean cake and an almond cake. I opted for the almond cake. They were shaped like giant coffee beans and came pre-packaged in a plastic container for easy on-the-go snacking. The container was 2,000 won and had about 10 mini cakes inside. I decided to eat them on my way out of the market. They were sweet but not overly sweet as some cakes can be. They were a snack I could see myself buying for my home as well.