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Traditional Market in Cheonan
Nov 20, 2018

Countless times in dramas and variety shows that Korean traditional markets were shown, and it just makes us want to visit one especially for foreigners to taste the Korean street foods. Cheonan, a city far from Seoul, also has its own kind of street foods that we should consider trying because of its distinct taste. One of the markets in Cheonan that is only a walking distance to Cheonan station is the Namsan Jungang Market (남산중앙시장).

I went to Namsan Jungang Market on a rainy Sunday that made me think that there would be a fewer stores open and people. Fortunately, the rain stopped, and I witnessed that there’s several people beyond my expectation. The back and side streets of the market didn’t have that much but the main street and street foods queue has a lot.

Namsan jungang Market, like any Korean traditional market, has a fish, meat and vegetables stores, marts, fashion stores, Daiso, restaurants and street foods. I tried some of the street foods there listed below.

1. 호떡 (Hoddeok) – Chinese pancake

I found only two space that sell Hoddeok, and among the street foods vendor these two has a long line of people queueing. I haven’t tasted it in my entire stay here in South Korea and the number of people queue made me curious and made me want to taste it. Well, for a 1000 won you can get 2 pieces Hoddeok and the taste of it will make you want to buy more regardless of the long queue.  The Hoddeok is in a circular thin shape and the it has a soft texture. It is not that sweet as you imagine, and that little sweetness in a soft texture is its mark.

2. 고기빈대떡 (Gogibindaeddeok) – Meat mung-bean pancake

This is the second time I will try this street food but with different ingredients, a meat (고기빈대떡). I was attracted by this food because on how well they cook it by flipping and making it consistent with its rounded shape. It looks so delicious with its variety of ingredients in it. While I was waiting for my order, the vendor (ahjumma) talked to me in Korean telling me that since it rained that day, a lot of people came to the market to eat this food. So, I was wrong. Raining can be not only be the reason why people will not go to the market, but it can also be the reason why people go to the market. The vendor (ahjumma), though she knew that I am foreigner and cannot speak Korean, she still spoke to me slowly in Korean smiling. This food that is freshly cooked is not deceiving. It was made and tasted deliciously.

The mung-bean pancake has also other type of different ingredients like 쪽파빈대떡 (Jjokpa Bindaeddeok – scallions), 녹도빈대떡(Nokdo Bindaeddeok) and 땡초빈대떡 (Ddaengchobindaeddeok)

3. 소떡 소떡(Soddeok) – Sausage and a rice cake

Soddeok 소떡 is a combination of a sausage (소새지) and a ddeok (rice cake). The ingredients and the way Soddeok were cooked is very simple and that simplicity made me want to buy it. Many people also were queued to buy this food pouring chili sauce above it.

4. 돼지껍데기(Dwaejikkeopdegi) – Pork Rinds

The food itself may not be that appetizing due to its appearance. The pork rinds are all in color red which made it look spicy. However, it is worth a try since a lot of old men (아저씨 – ahjussi) were there to eat together with a lot of soju. This is a skin of a pig with a seasoning of a red paste. I guess this food is most delicious when there is soju and that explains well why there were a lot of old men drinking around it.

5. 깨찰빵 (Ggaechalppang) – Sweet rice bun, 몰랑몰랑찹쌀꽈배기 (Mollangmollangchapssalkkwabaegi), 찹쌀도너츠 (Chapssaldoneocheu) – twisted sweet rice bread

These breads are the Korean Traditional bread. I passed by this bread store and they are providing a free taste. The bread was good that we bought their different kind of bread dipped in the sugar. It was so fluffy and filled with sticky rice.

6. 포장마차 (pojangmacha) – cart bar, 칼국수 (Kalguksu) – chopped noodles, 전통옥수수 (Jeontong oksusu) – Traditional corn

The common street foods around South Korea like the 오뎅(Odeng – fish cake), 순대 (Sundae – pig’s intestine) and fried foods were also there. There are 3 to 4 stores that sell these street foods along the main street. Kalguksu (noodles) and steamed corn were also sold.

The Namsan Jungang Market in Cheonan is only one of those markets in Cheonan. This market, like others, provides all the basic stores that a market should have and as well as the street foods. The street foods are well cooked and served given that some of the stores were featured in a TV shows. You can taste how delicious the Korean food culture are.

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