A street of ddeokbokki street food.
Look for the blue arch with three flying ddeokbokki in different colours. There’s one on each end of this tiny alley (see the noodlies, Sydney food blog video above). For decades these bustling shops have been in fierce competition for punters, their biggest trade coming from late night office workers.
To walk down this alley is to dodge invitations from persistent touters, who are competitive though never aggressive.
Oh wait, you don’t know what a ddeokbokki is? They’re those tubular “ddeok” rice cakes (sometimes also made of flour) often served in a red, sweet and chilli sauce. At Sindangdong Ddeokbokki Alley they are served “wet” in gigantic dishes to be cooked at the table.
For what you get, it’s unbeatable value; the dish is overflowing with goodness. A standard serve is W$1100 (around A$13) and includes ddeok, ramen and jjolmyeon noodles, fish cakes, dumplings and enoki mushrooms in a sweet and tangy sauce.
We ordered the seafood version with added crab, oysters, prawns and eggs for W$1,800 (A$20). One bowl can feed four I reckon. The plate arrives to the table, uncooked (above).
Ddeokbokki starts to cook and the colour is coming along nicely, quickly gaining a mouth-watering red tint, above.
Ddeokbokki is now cooked with a lovely red glow, above. It doesn’t take long but the sauce is quickly absorbed, the seafood giving everything an extra zing. My dining partner says we should eat the ramen noodles first before they get too soggy and to leave our eggs until the end to cleanse the palate.
For two this is plenty. Though if you can manage it, I’d recommend getting the kitchen to add rice and seaweed strips. When stir fried, OMG it looks like this, the flavours are just amazingly rich and dangerously more-ish.
But this is food with friends, and while most drown mouthfuls of ddeokbokki with soju, we chose instead makgeolli, that creamy, Korean rice “wine” and a non-alcoholic yogurt-like fruit drink.
You can’t go wrong at any eatery in the famed Sindangdong Ddeokbokki Alley, it’s so competitive, they need to be good or they won’t survive. And don’t worry about being ripped off, the competition also ensures everybody is serving up these delicious rice cakes for the same price.
Sindangdong Ddeokbokki Alley
302-28 Sindang 1-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.
This delicious noodlies, Sydney food blog experience is courtesy of the lovely folks at Korean Tourism Organization.