Jacob Woo from the Koreatown restaurant in Los Angeles, Smiling Hot Dog, traces the growing popularity of Korean corn dogs in the United States to K-dramas. “When you [watch] a lot of dramas and a lot of korean movies these corn dogs was appearing and i feel like that was a major influence. It’s true. Series as Start and Run on, both of which can be streamed on Netflix, include figures munching on corn dogs that look slightly different from the American variety, both inside and out.
“We use fermented flour instead of [cornmeal] to increase the texture of the taste, it is crispier and tastier, ”explains Michelle Youn, vice president of the Korean American corn dog chain Two hands. In addition, ‘the customer also has a variety of choices to choose from [for] the filling inside the [corn dog]. “Instead of standard hot dogs, some places for Korean corn dog replace meat with gooey blocks of mozzarella for the ultimate cheesy touch.
Yes, a corn dog oozing cheese strands are mouthwatering. But what’s particularly enticing about Korean corn dogs is the outer dough. Two Hands’ fermented flour and the rice flour version of Smile Hot Dog provide a crispier, less pancake-like coating. Instead of a liquid dough that sausages are dipped in, Korean corn dogs are submerged in a stickier dough that clings and stretches, almost like bread dough.
Both places roll their corn dogs in cubed fries for a potato dog or Hot cheetos and Takis for a spicier variation, which also makes for a good photoshoot. At Two Hands, you can get corn dog rolled in crispy puffed rice for added crunch, or soy flour for a little nutty. At Smile, there’s even a corn dog dipped in milk chocolate for the ultimate sweet and savory experience.
A corn dog wrapped in fries may seem like the most American thing, but Korea is well known for its street food, innovation, and deep fried delicacies. Take a chain of Korean fried chicken, Bonchon, for example: KFC (Korean fried chicken) base has over 100 locations in the United States, as well as international outposts dotted throughout Southeast Asia. It’s probably better than anything the colonel has cooked up.
“Korean-style corn dogs arrived in Korea around the 1980s as street food,” Youn explains. “The reason for its popularity [is] its competitive price, delicious taste, [customizable options], and its availability to be a meal instead of just a snack. Two-Hands took advantage of this popularity and opened its first store in November 2019. Today, the chain has 12 stores in Texas, California, Arizona and New York, with plans to open more than 40 franchises in the near future.
And it’s not just Two Hands or Smile Hot Dog. There are Oh-K Dog, Mochinout (which also serves more and more mochi donuts alongside Korean corn dogs), Sacred cow, and Myungrang, which are just the strings. Ma and pop stores are scattered throughout Korean cities across the country. Seems like a new Korean corn dog spot is opening every day and its influence is spreading from Hawaii to New York.
It makes sense. With the growing craze for Korean pop culture, as the house sells out BTS McDonald’s Meal, a flavor of Selena Gomez and Black Pink ice cream, and rashes of Korean barbecue restaurants across the states – it was only a matter of time for street food on a stick to get its due.
“I feel like [corn dogs] are a perfect fusion of Korean culture and American cuisine, ”says Woo. It talks about the Korean military stew and the influence the American occupation has had on Korean cuisine. “But Korean corn dogs are more than food. These are people who immerse themselves, are exposed and discover the culture, the history of Korea. Woo smiles. “I think food is always a good learning opportunity.”