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Crowds wait in line for bungeoppang in Gwangjang Market

Posted December. 20, 2021 07:39,   

Updated December. 20, 2021 07:39


Bungeoppang has turned from one of the most popular winter street foods in South Korea into a real rarity due to the reduced number of carp-shaped bread stands following rising prices of red beans and flour. Mobile applications that show where bungeoppang sells prove how popular it is among desperate bungeoppang hunters on the lookout. Meanwhile, some bungeoppang places are becoming a magnet for fans of bungeoppang.

“Chonggakne Bungeoppang” located in Gwangjang Market, Jongno District, central Seoul, is crowded with guests waiting in line in the cold. With the steam leaking from the open top cover of the grill mold, an array of fish-shaped pastry is being cooked. This place is called a “sacred place for bungeoppang” filled with many guests. It takes more than an hour to be served on weekends.

Four flavors are available at this joint – red bean with walnuts, custard cream, sweet potato and pizza. Up to four pieces are allowed per person. Although you have to pay as much as 1,000 won for red bean with walnuts and 2,000 won for the pizza flavor – presumably not reasonable prices for bungeoppang, it goes like hot cakes as this joint offers uniquely different ingredients. Pizza-flavored bungeoppang is filled with as many as 17 ingredients including beef, ripe tomatoes and natural cheese. Milk in dough add a creamy and mild taste. “We do prepare all kinds of ingredients of the best quality,” says Park Ki-nam, the owner of this place. “Bungeoppang we serve is almost fully filled as well.”

Yoon Da-hyun, a self-claimed big fan of bungeoppang who cannot resist any on the street, opened a café named “Bungmericano” in front of Ewha Womans University in September to have more chances to taste the pastry. The café is equipped with a bungeoppang grill with a kettle filled with a watery dough, reminiscent of a street stand selling bungeoppang. She serves five types including the red bead flavor (800 won). It may be a unique and fun experience to taste bungeoppang over coffee at a café. “I intentionally have this grill with a kettle equipped to make bungeoppang crispy and give bungeoppang lovers a legitimate experience,” Yoon said.

Added to this, “Paris Croissant Bungeoppang” in Jeonju Hanok Village sells a luxury line of bungeoppang. Four pieces cost you 13,000 won. It is characterized by croissant made of pie dough filled with eight types of fillings such as red beans, apple mangos and blueberries. With Sugar crane on it, it gives your mouth an additional sweetness. Choi Da-hye, the owner of this place with a license for confectionery and bakery making, says, “Government bodies and childcare centers often place orders when they have special events.”

Hyo-Ju Son hjson@donga.com