Korean Food : Bungeoppang vs Taiyaki

When you walk on the street in a cold day, hungry,

When you want to eat something Korean, portable, hot and sweet,

                                It is the one that satisfies you.


Yes, I know it is not that pretty.
               But the taste is not that bad.


As winter coming, the winter food appears on the street. The vendors prepare several snacks with steam rolling on. There are Ddeok bok gi, Baked sweet potatoes, chestnuts, and numerous hot food waiting for customers. You cannot choose one of them since all of them look so yummy.


But, you want to eat something Korean, portable, hot and sweet. Bung eo ppang will be your choice to please you.




’Bung eo ppang’ is guessed to come from Japan since it has similar shape and ingredients to Taiyaki. ‘Bung eo ppang’ named after very familiar fish, 붕어 that is easily found in the streaks and river in Korea. It prevailed during 50’s and 60’s. Later, it disappeared temperarily and reappeared in 90’s due to longing for the past memories in 50~60’s. As the hamburger symbolizes the Fast Food culture, ‘Bung eo ppang’ represent the father-generation culture.


To get the definition of ‘Bung eo ppang’, let’s ask Mr.Wiki.


Bungeoppang (lit. “crucian carp cake/bread”) is the Korean name of a pastry

Bungeoppangs are made using an appliance similar to a waffle iron. The batter is poured into a fish-shaped mold, red bean paste is added, then more batter to encase the red bean paste. The mold is then closed, and roasted.

In Korean, "bungeo(붕어)" means Carassius, a kind of fish, and "ppang()" means bread.

Bungeoppang is sold as a snack by open-air food vendors throughout Korea during winter. In 2009, one U.S. dollar could purchase four or five bungeoppangs, depending on the location.

So, I assume that you got clarified with ‘Bung eo ppang’ now.


If you have traveled to Japan, you might have seen the similar type of food with ‘Bung-eo ppang’. That is called ‘taiyaki’ in Japanese meaning a ‘baked sea bream’.

       Color differs depending on the cooking time.

It looks quite the same, but if you study it, you can see the several differences. First, taiyaki is baked in specifically described molds, while Bung-eo in simple molds. Second, it looks more active with the fin upwards, while Bung-eo looks stiff. Third, it is baked in various sizes, while Bung-eo is mostly baked in a standard size. Lastly, the biggest difference between them is the type of fillings. Taiyaki embraces not only red beans, but also chocolate, cream, kidney beans, curry, sausages, bacon, cabbages and etc, while Bung-eo only go with red beans.
                                                              (bald letters are features of Taiyaki)

If you read the comparison between taiyaki and Bung-eo ppang, you should think taiyaki is better due to its diversification of shape and fillings. But that is not really true.

The beginning of both food was almost the same. In poor period of the nation, people need to eat simple food with high calories, so both of them were easily made by simple standardized molds and one type of filling, sweet red beans.

However, as the country developed, the consumers wanted to eat various versions of them. 
Following the customers want, Japanese Taiyaki has evolved with a number of fillings and sizes. On the other hand, Bung-eo ppang has not changed. It has given a birth to ‘Ing-eo ppang’.

Ing-eo ppang is slender fish-shaped pastry. ‘Ing-eo’ literally means a carp in Korea, so imply various luck such as wealth, fame and success. It can be understood to be an upgraded version of Bung-eo. Its biggest differences from Bung-eo ppang are the usage of oil and the diversified fillings.


Ing-eo ppang is made with cooking oil, while Bung-eo ppang with margarine. It makes the texture differ. Bung-eo ppang has more warm and soft feelings, Ing-eo ppang has munchy and crispy feelings. In addition, Ing-eo ppang contains diverse types of fillings such as red bean, pizza, sweet potatoes, and custard cream. It targets wider customer ranges including those who do not like red bean fillngs.


   <Ing-eo ppang filled with custard cream>

By supported by its variation, Ing-eo ppang, Both of them came to have almost similar specification in terms of diversified sizes and fillings.

However, the popularity and status of two food obviously differ.

Both of them are considered to be a notional snack, but sold in different places.
aiyaki’ is sold in the stores or the department stores, while ‘Bung-eo ppang’ on the street. ‘Taiyaki’ has high prices around 120~200yen(1800won~2500won), while ‘Bung-eo ppang’ has low prices around 250~500won. ‘Taiyaki’ is at least 5 times as expensive as ‘Bung-eo ppang’. It means that ‘Taiyaki’ targets the high-class market, but ‘Bung-eo ppang’ targets cheap street market.

‘Bung-eo ppang’

Nowadays, on the newspaper, I read ‘Bung-eo ppang’ vendors wailed. The popularity of ‘Bung-eo ppang’ has remained high as I know. People do eat it quite often on the street. So, I intriguingly looked into the article. It was about the ingredient prices increasing. They had kept selling food with reasonable prices since 7 years ago, but they did not gain much margins. but if they raise the ‘Bung-eo ppang’ price, it will cause customer complains and loss of consumers. They seemed to be trapped in the vicious circle.





However, on the newspaper, taiyaki was shown with contrary situation. It was recently located to the prestige department stores in Seoul. It became famous among youngsters and housewives as Japanese food. Although it is not that different from ‘Ing-eo ppang’, thanks to the wrapped image, it is sold in high price and recognized as new trendy food. The owners of shops gain huge amount of profits through taiyaki sales. They are on the right track.


I feel so sorry for the extremely diverged destiny of two similar foods. Of course, their concepts and strategies differ in many ways. They have distinct attractions as they are. I am just worrying about our traditional snack will be encroached by Japanese taiyaki owing to poor cares by Korean. I think we should take care of our own cultural food before welcoming new food. That is something we ought to do for Korean culture preservation.


 For fun!

There are similar variations; Kuk-hwa ppang, ice bung-eo ppang.


Kuk-hwa ppang is flower-shaped pastry. It also has been transferred from Japan and it is guessed to symbolize a national flower of Japan. It is also called ‘Pul ppang’ in Korean since the batter is as watery as rice-glue.


Plus Plus!

Ice bung-eo ppang
is bungeoppang-shaped waffles filled with ice cream and pat
(sweetened and boiled red beans or azuki beans). These waffles are usually mass produced and sold by retailers, not by open-air food vendors.





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Posted by Food Storyist

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