2014

Bungeobbang (붕어빵): Which side do you bite off first?

Magikarp bread!

Magikarp bread!

“Let’s go get some more magikarp bread.”

This was the name that my Spanish friend gave to the focus of today’s post, Bungeobbang (붕어빵). Yes, we grew up watching pokemon, and digimon adventures as a child. And somehow, calling bungeobbang magikarp bread makes it feel more crispy and delicious, with a dash of childhood memory.

Anyways, back to the topic of bungeobbang. I’m going to let you in on a secret: there is no actual carp fish in Bungeobbang, which literally translates as “carp bread”. Then again, there’s also no beaver in beavertail snack either, which are sold at mountain tops in ski resorts around Canada.

“No real beaver was hurt in making of this beavertail.”

“No real beaver was hurt in making of this beavertail.”

As much as the cold weather sometimes brings down my spirit, it is easily brought back up and jump to a new height of joy by some of the delicious winter Korean snacks available. And Bungeobbang easily takes top 3, along with hotteok (호떡) & baked sweet potato (군고구마).

Although now days there are variations of bungeobbang that uses different fillings or bread mix, the original version is made with sweet red bean inside the bread mix, then the lid is closed in the Bungeobbang machine and is baked to a crispy, golden brown.

Bungeobbang machine

Bungeobbang machine

Origin of bungeobbang is said to be Japanese tai-yaki, which is the fish shaped bread known to have existed since 19th century, that spread to Korea around Japanese colonization era. The country side was devastated by the 6.25 Korean war, and many of the foods developed/popularized during this time in Korea (such as tteokbokki or or bungeobbang) were used to satisfy hunger, with what little resources they had. Tai-yaki is based on the snapper fish, while bungeobbang is based on carp. Besides the difference in the fish/name, the Japanese version is usually larger, often has more variety of stuffing, and shaped more like a real fish and in active pose. Bungeoppang on the other hand, is usually a bit smaller, often with just sweet red bean as stuffing, and looks more comical and static in its pose.

Now, it became a beloved snack for Koreans during winter, helping us endure the cold winter nights. Fresh off the machine, the soft yet crispy bread perfectly melding with the hot and sweet filings inside your mouth… I can only say you really should try these during winter, along with hodo kwaja available in Korea town in Toronto.

By the way, did you know that there is a personality test that you can do by taking a look at how you take your first bite into bungeobbang?

Here’s the test.

Head first: optimist that doesn’t worry about details
Tail first: detail oriented, romantic
Stomach first: Trusted by people around them, but has hard time refusing requests
Back fin: Expressive and easily moved to tears/moved
Cut in half, tail side first: Reliable, tackles life one step at a time
Cut in half, head side first: Strong willed, active

I eat the head first by the way. Coincidentally, one of my favourite songs that I listen to is Bob Marley’s ‘Don’t worry, be happy.’

Now, after all this talk about bungeobbang, you might be wondering where can I get some? There are couple of locations in Toronto, but I’ll just list two of them for now.

Finch Korean snack cart. Slightly south from Finch station

Finch Korean snack cart. Slightly south from Finch station

Location #1Korean snack cart (near Finch station)
This location sells wide variety of hot food snacks. The bungeobbang they sell here isn’t anything fancy, but it does the job with its traditional style of bungeobbang. Try to see if you can get the freshly baked ones.

Taste: 2.5~3/5 (Normally ok, when they are fresh they taste pretty good)
Price: 4/5 ($2.50 for 3 bungeobbang! A great way to lose some changes in your pockets)
Accessibility: 4/5 (Almost literally around the corner, about 1 minute walk southward as you exist Finch subway station on to street level)
Others: n/a

Kevin's Taiyaki. 675 Bloor Street W

Kevin’s Taiyaki. 675 Bloor Street W

Location #2Kevin’s Tai-yaki, inside PAT Mart (near Christy Station)
This store is located inside a Korean supermarket near Christy station. Closer to the Japanese Tai-yaki style, the bungeobbang here have more variety of choices in terms of fillings (standard red bean, black bean, green bean, and custard). I LOVE their custard bungeobbang here!

Taste: 4/5 (delicious! Especially the custard filling one.)
Price: 3.5/5 (pretty decent for their size, but buying in bulk doesn’t give you that much discount, so might as well get variety of flavours instead)
Accessibility: 3/5 (Bit of walk from Christy station)
Others: 3.5/5 (Located inside Korean mart, in a Korea town area. Plenty of other shops/restaurants in the area, so you can grab dinner, get a haircut, do some grocery shopping… And then come get bungeobbang.)

That’s the end of today’s posting. Whether you want to try out the personality test on friends, or just craving some, go out and enjoy some bungeobbang to help endure these cold winter times. Until my next posting, bon appétit!

4 replies »

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