Korea

Haeundae Market: A Foodie Heaven or Hell?

When most people hear the word “Haeundae”, the first thing that comes to mind is the beach. Then the restaurants. Then the fancy hotels. Then, maybe, the shopping. But what a lot of people don’t realise is that if they look in between all those streets of restaurants and hotels, they can get a glimpse into real-life everyday Korea, at Haeundae Market.

I love going to traditional markets in Korea for a few different reasons. I love seeing all the crazy things that they have for sale, I love watching people going about their day to day business in this one-time unknown environment, I love the energy(and slight aggression) of the sellers trying to haul people over to their stand, and most of all, I love the street food, and can never resist picking up a little treat for myself like some hoddeok or tteokbboki.

On Saturday, I headed to Haeundae Beach to fit in a bit of last minute sunbathing before the monsoon rains started this week. My friend was running a bit late, so I decided to kill time wandering through Haeundae Market while I waited.

 

You’ll either love or hate Haeundae but it’s the sort of place that you need to visit at least once in Korea to fully understand the culture. Here’s a sneak peak at what you can see!

Strange Sea Creatures

Haeundae Market Busan

Haeundae Market Busan

Haeundae Market Busan

There are a lot of things to see at Haeundae Market. Busan is a seaside city so, naturally, one of the main draws to this market is the amount of fresh seafood available. It’s not uncommon to see really weird seafood that you can’t recognise. Actually, it’s much less common to see things that you do recognise.

LIVE Seafood!

When I first learned that seafood was often eaten ALIVE in South Korea, I had some pretty heavy culture shock. But I was intrigued all at the same time and decided to put it on my bucketlist though, I have since removed it because I think it’s quite cruel. The most common dish is live octopus, but eel is also popular. The guy in the picture is grabbing a squirming eel out it’s tank that he will then skin alive and serve straight up to diners- ouch!

Haeundae Market Busan

Black Eggs

Even in the non-seafood sections, you can find some pretty strange things. I have absolutely no idea why these eggs are black?! How did they get that way? Someone please enlighten me!

Haeundae Market Busan

Mandu

Ok, so now we’re on to the more appealing things about the market. You know, things you actually might even want to put into your mouth?! Haeundae market is a great place to try new foods because it’s cheap and most stands have English menus.

One of the best value foods for budget travellers in Korea to try is mandu. Similar to Chinese dim-sum, mandu is a type of dumpling that is usually served steamed, but sometimes fried (yum.) The most popular filling is pork and vegetable but kimchi mandu is also really popular here. Mandu vendors are always easy to spot with their huge steaming pots outside.

Haeundae Market Busan

Jeon

One of my favourite Korean foods is jeon– if you come to Korea, you need to get some jeon in your life! Korean’s often refer to Pajeon as “Korean Pizza” but don’t expect any cheese or marinara sauce. I’d describe it more as a savoury pancake. Pajeon, the most commonly found jeon, is a green onion pancake which Korean’s like to eat on rainy days, or after hiking. My favourite jeon is kimchi jeon which is (obviously) a kimchi pancake. That would have been my idea of hell when I first arrived but now that I’m practically Korean, I love it! Haeundae Market has so much jeon!

Haeundae Market Busan

Bottom Left- Seafood Jeon Bottom Right- Kimchi Jeon Top Right Pajeon (Green Onion)

Street Food

No matter where you go for street food in the country, you can always expect to find the same few things. Tteokbboki (chewy rice cakes in a spicy chilli sauce), o-daeng (Korean fishcakes), sundae (Korean blood sausage) and twiggim (Korean style tempura.) These stands are usually filled with middle school students, old grandmothers and everyone in between all grabbing something quick and filling to keep them going through their busy day. Haeundae Market is no different.

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Dessert

I find it impossible to go to a street food place without picking up some hoddeok. It’s without a doubt my absolute favourite street food, and my favourite Korean dessert. Hoddeok is another type of pancake which is filled with brown sugar, cinnamon and seeds. It’s then fried until the brown sugar turns into a runny caramel and served extremely hot. It’s definitely not the best thing in the world for you, but I honestly couldn’t care less.

Haeundae Market Busan

 

If you’re ever about the Haeundae beach area, I definitely recommend that you peel yourself from your sunbed and pay Haeundae Market a visit. It’s definitely a unique cultural experience and the perfect place to sample some authentic Korean street food on a budget.

Planning a trip to Busan? Don’t miss these other amazing places:

Want more tips about budget travel in Korea?

Over to you! What Korean street food would you like to try?

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25 Comments

  • Reply
    Megan Indoe
    22nd June 2016 at 6:08 pm

    Call us crazy, but we have been here 2 years and haven’t tried the seafood! Haha, everyone tells us how delicious it is, but there’s something about looking at it then having to eat it. It just doesn’t look appetizing. We need to try it before we leave! But when we were in Haeundae I was all about the street food and jeon!

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      23rd June 2016 at 10:43 am

      Haha me either! I’ve had bits and bobs- the things that I actually recognise. But not the rest of it. Would be keen to try a shellfish bbq at some point though!

  • Reply
    LISA
    27th June 2016 at 12:31 am

    Some of the street food looks delicious, that Hoddeok looks great! Unfortunately, some of the seafood I wouldn’t be able to eat (wouldn’t fit with my Kosher diet). I just love to roam the markets, all the sights & smells!

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      1st July 2016 at 1:25 pm

      The street food is great 🙂 And there would probably be a few things you could eat, even on a kosher diet! 🙂

  • Reply
    Jessica
    27th June 2016 at 10:13 am

    I was only two weeks in Korea but I tried street food as much as I could. I love the dried squid though it is challenging to eat. Haha. I am interested to know as well why these eggs are black. haha
    Jessica recently posted…5 Things I Learned From Traveling Solo Abroad For The First TimeMy Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      1st July 2016 at 1:24 pm

      I still haven’t found out why those eggs are black! Eating street food is an amazing way to save money here. I’ve never got into the dried squid thing though!

  • Reply
    Vicki Louise
    27th June 2016 at 12:25 pm

    I love visiting markets in Asia – they are so different from everywhere in the Western World – and the ‘live’ sections are always eye opening! I’m not sure about the black eggs – but if its any consolation we found pink eggs in Laos!
    Vicki Louise recently posted…Should We Stop Using AirBnB?My Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      1st July 2016 at 1:23 pm

      Haha oh my god, why was pink! Lol- the stuff I see is mental sometimes, like boxes of baby turtles 🙁 but definitely an eyeopener!

  • Reply
    Jessica Cutrufello
    27th June 2016 at 3:09 pm

    So many interesting things! Not sure I’d eat the seafood raw, but surely steamed or fried 🙂 And Hoddeok sounds amazing! I wonder what kind of seeds go in there? The market sounds like quite the adventure on its own!
    Jessica Cutrufello recently posted…Food in Italy Will Make You Want to Hop on a Plane Right NowMy Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      1st July 2016 at 1:23 pm

      I’ve become fond of raw seafood since moving to Asia. But, living? No! The hoddeok is great- pretty sure there are some sesame seeds and crushed walnuts in there 🙂

  • Reply
    Jenn
    27th June 2016 at 6:15 pm

    I love visiting markets when I go to a new city, and in Asia they’re the BEST! Black eggs are definitely funky… but the mandu looks bomb.com! Thanks for sharing!
    Jenn recently posted…Dungeness Crab Dip RecipeMy Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      1st July 2016 at 1:21 pm

      Mandu is SO GOOD!! We’re so lucky with all the amazing street food in Korea- stay away from those eggs though lol.

  • Reply
    Kerri
    27th June 2016 at 6:45 pm

    This is exactly what I would be seeking out. I do this in any new place I travel to. What is with those black eggs though? Did you find out why they do this? I might sometimes freak out at what I see in the markets but I still love to go and learn.
    Kerri recently posted…Exploring Melbourne’s LanewaysMy Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      1st July 2016 at 1:20 pm

      I still haven’t found out but it’s on my to do list! 🙂

  • Reply
    Curious Claire
    27th June 2016 at 9:22 pm

    I love street markets. They have the best food! I especially love the ones with foods different to what i’m used to. I’m intrigued by the black egg
    Curious Claire recently posted…Hotel Review: Aonang Cliff Beach ResortMy Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      1st July 2016 at 1:20 pm

      Me too, such a cheap and cheerful way to sample loads of different food! Me too, really need to find out why they are black!

  • Reply
    christine leger
    27th June 2016 at 9:44 pm

    My husband would be all over this. Good or bad, he would never admit it lol
    christine leger recently posted…Berlin 48 HoursMy Profile

  • Reply
    Paul
    28th June 2016 at 12:34 am

    Looks like such an interesting place to wander around. I love places like this and seeing all the weird and wonderful things on offer!
    Paul recently posted…Stepping back in time and walking the Dubrovnik city walls, Croatia.My Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      1st July 2016 at 1:19 pm

      Thanks Paul! There were definitely some weird things here 🙂

  • Reply
    Elisa
    28th June 2016 at 6:23 am

    I am not fond of Korean food but this kind of markets are an excellent opportunity for photographers!

  • Reply
    10 Free Things to Do in Busan this Summer - Wee Gypsy Girl
    24th July 2016 at 9:06 am

    […] To read more about all the things you can see at Haeundae Market, check out this post here. […]

  • Reply
    Wendy @ Power Your Skin
    19th October 2017 at 5:18 am

    Hey,

    Korea is really a place to visit. I’m planning to have a vacation this coming December but don’t have a fixed place to go yet. Maybe I’ll consider Korea. Most of my nieces love Korea because of their favorite Korean actors and oppas.

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      20th October 2017 at 5:58 pm

      I hope you have an amazing time wherever you go! Hehe you’ll need to bring your nieces back some stickers and souvenirs with their favourite oppas on them! Mine is Gong Yoo!

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