Updated: Jul 31, 2020
Studying abroad is much more than having an international education! Learn about how to live like a local when studying abroad in Korea. In this post, we will explore what to eat and what to look out for in Korean Convenience Stores, to allow you to make the most out of your international exchange programme in Korea
Entering into a convenience store in Korea is an extremely interesting experience.
Once you have passed the friendly check-out staff you are then greeted with a wave of different foods, ranging from packets of ramen, honey almonds, banana milk, sausage on a stick and more!
What to try for my lunch
If you are looking for something quick, hot and fresh to go then you are in luck - you have the famous ’sausage on a stick’. They usually come vacuums packed and in a variety of flavours (chicken, beef, smoked). Also, they are microwavable, and conveniently, most shops have at least 2 microwaves for customers, therefore if you want to eat warm food instantly, you have the option.
If you are not a meat lover, they also have vacuum packed baked eggs, personally I did not taste the difference between these eggs and ones you may cook at home, however opening the packet there is a little ’slime’ which coats the egg, but do not let that put you off, as they are delicious.
My favourite - Samgak Kimbap - to get an idea as to what a kimbap actually looks like, click here. If you are already familiar, then you are in luck! As you can buy then at your closes store! They come in variety of flavours; chicken, beef, vegetables, egg. (Usually the meat flavours contain vegetables also) therefore suitable for most dietary needs. Looking at the image you may be thinking; what is the hype over this ‘rice ball’?
Well, the answer is; it is not just a rice ball! Admittedly, whilst in Korea, I feel as though I did not have an appreciation for these products as much as I should have done, however in Tokyo, you can buy a similar product, however in Japanese they are called ‘onigiri’, and they practically became my ‘go-to’ food whenever I entered a convenience store.
What to take home as a souvenir When it comes to food to take home as a souvenir, the issue of ‘practicality' comes into play when choosing. You must ask:
Is the product perishable?
Does the product have a long shelf life?
Could the product become pieced and leak in my bag?
Will the product get crushed in my bag?
After considering all of these for myself, I have devised a list of foods which I believe are a ‘must-have’ before departing from Korea and what’s more, you can purchase them at your closes store, meaning that if you are in a rush, and your flight is leaving within a few hours, you always have the opportunity to run out and get them, without having to pay airport prices!
Flavoured almonds - I am not talking about ’lightly salted’ or ’smoked’. I am referring to sweet flavoured almonds. - Honey flavoured, cafe latte flavour, banana milk. There are lots of flavours to choose from and perfect for packing in your luggage
Binch Cookies - these were probably the nice biscuit I tasted in Korea, they may look very plain, by that I mean they are a generic biscuit with a milk chocolate topping, however the chocolate is Divine! They are also not your typical Korean design, as each biscuit has a ‘European’ designed Ship, bicycle or harp in printed in the chocolate. Therefore making the product very unique compared to the other snacks you may find in the shop
Chocpie cakes - the concept: this snack includes one large marshmallow sandwiched between two chocolate covered vanilla biscuits. These are most notably one of the most popular snacks abroad, with around 12.1 billion already sold outside Korea, making it popular with families and friends who you wish to share them with.
Flavoured Pringles - These will always be a favourite with family and friends - you can find pizza, burger, caramel flavoured Pringles. These are not only efficiently packed and will not get crushed, but they also have a great shelf life if not opened, therefore a great choice, if you wish to take crisps back with you.
Ramen pots - Shin Ramyeon is probably the most famous Korean brand - however, these are modestly spicy so it depends on your tolerance to spice. Personally, I am not a fan of super spicy, that is why I chose the ‘original flavour’. Also they are light weight, but on the downside they can take up lots of space, so I would recommend only purchasing one or two.
Tteokbokki snacks - Due to the name, you may be unsure what the product actually is. They are the ‘snack form’ of the famous Tteokbokki dish, which you can purchase at Korean markets. Essentially, they are small rice cakes which are covered in sweet spicy sauce (it is the sauce which makes the product amazing). In the convince store, you will most likely find them near the crisp section, however do not be fooled as they are more denser than a regular crips meaning they are less ‘crushable’ and very unique.
What are your thoughts? Would you recommend any other snack? Or choose different souviners to take home? Drop a line in the comments or feel free to contact me.