The Best Breakfast Sandwich Comes From Korea & Has Sugar in It

It's true, and you're going to want to try it.

November 26, 2019
Photo by Pixabay

Before big road trips growing up, you can bet our family was out the door well before 10:30 a.m. This was to ensure that McDonald's Sausage McMuffins were safely within our grasps ahead of the menu handoff to the lunchtime offerings (thank goodness the fast-food chain now serves an all-day breakfast). Sometimes there’d be a Sausage Biscuit in the mix, sometimes a McGriddle, but the McMuffin was— by far—the top dog over the years.

My love for a warm egg sandwich is not a monogamous one. A bodega egg sandwich on a Kaiser roll (washed down with a peach Snapple, naturally), a fancy-pants heirloom wheat biscuit sandwich with cage-free eggs and slices of heritage cured pork—I'll take them all. If there’s an egg sammie to be enjoyed, you can be sure I’m down for the ride. Which is how I came to know Korean street toast.

It’s safe to say that I love all Korean street food, and so when I find myself back in the motherland visiting family, I’m hitting up every stand to make sure I get my fill. Much of the street food found in the country are classics that don’t change much (ddeokbokki rice cakes in a sweet and spicy sauce or odeng fish cakes on skewers with an accompanying stock), but there’s always a crop of “newer school” snacks to be found in the form of French fry-encrusted hot dogs, tornado potatoes, and (my favorite) street toast.

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My mother was the first to introduce me to this treat. We were walking through the streets near Ewha Womans University, an area of Seoul with a number of colleges nearby, making our way through mobs of young students looking for cheap and satisfying eats between classes. She found a kiosk with a promising line―long enough to guarantee that whatever was coming out would be good, short enough not to intimidate―where we’d wait for a few minutes, letting the wafting buttery smells envelope us, before being rewarded with two warm egg sandwiches…folded into paper cups (much like this below).

Korean street toast (aka, Korean egg toast, gyeran tostuh, or gilgeori tostuh) is a classic example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. The sandwich comprises easy-to-find ingredients: soft white bread, eggs, thinly sliced cabbage and carrots, ketchup, sugar (more on this in a bit), and the optional additions of mayonnaise, slices of ham, and American cheese.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I also adore Korean street food, but this may have been my favorite. I set out to find a recipe as soon as we got home, and now I make it regularly for breakfast. I'll be trying this egg sandwich recipe soon!”
— Becca

Each food stand varies a bit in ingredient list and technique, but largely stays true to this core idea: A couple of eggs, whisked together with a handful of shredded cabbage and carrots, are cooked together as a soft vegetable omelet, sandwich-sized. Then, two slices of bread get buttered up and toasted. After the veggie "omelet" is cooked sufficiently on both sides, it gets transferred atop one of the toast slices. And this is where the magic happens: You sprinkle a small spoonful of sugar on top of the still-warm egg before squirting on some ketchup (and mayo, if you choose), adding the cheese, griddled-up ham, and finally the second slice of toast.

Let's talk about that sugar for a second, shall we? Though at first I balked at the vendor who added straight-up sugar directly on top of the egg—trust me when I say it's the singular ingredient that makes Korean street toast. Just a bit of sugar balances the buttery bread and the salty ham while lifting up the eggy cabbage slaw with the sweet-tart ketchup and mellow mayo.

The tutorial below will help you recreate the sandwich, just as I like it (yes to lots of cabbage, mayo, and ham), but ultimately, Korean street toast is home cook–friendly and riffable to suit personal tastes.

The whole shebang costs a couple of U.S. dollars (depending on the fillings), and gets wrapped up in waxy paper or a little paper cup. It's my favorite way to start my days in Seoul, and luckily, easy enough to recreate here at home when I'm craving one thousands of miles away.

Have you ever had Korean street toast? Let us know your favorite way to enjoy egg sammies below!
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Join The Sandwich Universe co-hosts (and longtime BFFs) Molly Baz and Declan Bond as they dive deep into beloved, iconic sandwiches.

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Hana is a food writer/editor based in New York.


Julie B. July 11, 2020
Well, at least TOAST the bread properly. It looked anaemic and undercooked.
Paul M. February 1, 2020
What "tutorial"?? Where's the recipe?
Chloe January 8, 2020
This is my all time favorite! I'm drooling now.
javafiend December 23, 2019
Instead of ketchup, I'd like to try the sauce I make for bibimbop
Martin O. December 12, 2019
Nah, we stopped washing down the egg and cheese with Snapple once it stopped being $1.00. All hail Arizona Peach Iced Tea ($.99)
Alice E. December 8, 2019
Great.... so I guess I need to read Chinese to make this? Really?
Sarine December 9, 2019
Or you could just have eyes (there’s a huge play button in the middle of the screen). You might have even picked up that’s Korean!
Alice E. December 9, 2019
I really don't like to watch videos and would really like to see a recipe written out. SO sorry that I said "Chinese" instead of Korean. Obviously there is a difference.....although not in my (apparently) bad eyes....
Cleowhiskey September 21, 2019
It'd be better if you posted the pictures directly onto the Food52 site. Almost a year later, none of the Instagram derived photos are appearing.
Mike September 19, 2019
It would be better if you posted a recipe on how to make South Korean Street toast along with the video
Therese B. January 12, 2019
I like a good Reuben -- and this sandwich kind of reminds me of one -- the cabbage, and ketchup & mayo ("Russian dressing"), meat slices.... combine them and you have something like an eggy Reuben sandwich ... Won't really know 'til I make one, which am sure to do. Sounds deeeelish!
Hana A. January 25, 2019
Hi Therese! Yes, this "dressing" is very much in that Russian-style. I bet you'd really like it. :) Thanks for your comment and lmk if you end up trying this eggy version out for yourself!
KS December 30, 2018
I never heard of this and it sounds great. My question is, do the vegetables get tender in the short time it takes to do the egg, or do they end up still raw-ish, or do you cook the egg until the veggies are tender?
Hana A. January 7, 2019
Hi KS! If you shred the veg, they will cook fine. It's also nice that they retain a bit of crunch. Hope you enjoy it!
Brenda November 29, 2018
Oh my goodness! My daughter spent a year and a half teaching English in South Korea and while I visited her I fell in love with these sandwiches, along with almost every other Korean food. This is what we are having for dinner tonight!
Hana A. December 10, 2018
Aw, thanks for your comment, Brenda! So glad you can recreate in your own home. Let me know how it goes (or how it went). :)
Brenda December 8, 2019
I have this at least 3 times a month. My daughter now lives in Florida and this has become her go to quick dinner for her and her fiance. Brings happy memories to both of us!
Sur November 29, 2018
Just made. My boy friend and I loved. Took minutes. I thought you put sugar on top of eggs. Nothing about caramelizing. Simple and easy. Will be making again
Hana A. December 10, 2018
Hi Sur,

So glad you liked it! Yes, you do put the sugar on top of the eggs, isn't that interesting? Thanks again for reading and leaving a comment. :)
Nikkitha B. November 28, 2018
You know I'll be making this :-*
Hana A. November 29, 2018
#Eggsammies4lyfe, miss you, boo!
Maggie S. November 28, 2018
Hana this sounds delectable (using all banned words here). I was sure it was gonna be the bread that got sugared, sort of like a caramelized coating. Did NOT see the sweet egg coming.
Hana A. November 29, 2018
Ha! I bet you would love this, Maggie. Thanks for the comment. :)
Maggie S. November 29, 2018
You know me well <3
Becca November 28, 2018
We took our kids to Seoul a year ago and discovered gyeranppang. I also adore Korean street food, but this may have been my favorite. I set out to find a recipe as soon as we got home, and now I make it regularly for breakfast. I'll be trying this egg sandwich recipe soon!
Hana A. November 29, 2018
Sounds awesome, Becca! Did you mean gyeranbbang, the mini loaf bread with egg inside? Either way, they are both delicious. Enjoy and thanks for reading!
Marcia H. November 27, 2018
I’m going to request this from my Korean stepmom. She’s an amazing cook.

My favorite egg sandwich is fried egg, bacon and grape jelly on wheat toast.
Eric K. November 27, 2018
Ooh, grape jelly was a surprise; wasn't expecting that.
Hana A. November 28, 2018
This sounds amazing to me, Marcia. Thanks for reading and let me know what your stepmom whips up!
Erin A. November 27, 2018
Ahhh Hana this sounds so good!! I can't wait to try and make it at home.
Eric K. November 27, 2018
Yeah, I can't believe I've never heard of this. The flavor combos all make sense to me; Koreans love that dan-jjan (sweet-salty).
Hana A. November 28, 2018
Thanks, guys! Maybe we can whip up a batch one morning in the office!