Korean corn dogs, mochi doughnuts, and boba meet at Seoul Street

Photo by Caleb Wiseblood
WHO LET THE DOGS OUT? Adorned with patrons’ picks of several topping options, Korean corn dogs are best-sellers at Seoul Street in Santa Maria. The new eatery opened in January under its original name, Mochilicious Society.

The rule of thumb for Seoul Street owner Teresa Choi when it comes to curating her menu is to disqualify anything you can’t eat with your hands. Notable exceptions to the utensil ban include boba straws and corn dog sticks.

“We don’t even have forks and spoons here,” Choi said at her Santa Maria location, which she opened in January under the name Mochilicious Society.

She’s also the owner behind MilkT Society, a popular boba branch with local shops in both Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo. This spring, Choi plans to rebrand a handful of her businesses (including her original MilkT location in Fresno) with the Seoul Street title.

click to enlarge Korean corn dogs, mochi doughnuts, and boba meet at Seoul Street
Photo by Caleb Wiseblood
SWEET DREAMS ARE MADE OF THIS: Mochi doughnuts of various flavors are available by the dozen, six-pack, three-pack, or singles at Seoul Street in Santa Maria.

“Logistically, it just makes sense to make everything one name,” said Choi, who has been in the boba biz since 2020. This year marked her first venture into the realm of Korean corn dogs and mochi doughnuts, which both made their debut at her Santa Maria shop upon its grand opening.

One key difference between traditional corn dogs and doughnuts and their respective counterparts comes down to the batter. While cornmeal is as essential to standard corn dogs as cake flour is to doughnuts, rice flour is the most prevalent ingredient in Seoul Street’s batters for both Korean corn dogs and mochi doughnuts. 

“Most people are used to that cornmeal breading—a little more of a tough breading—and this one’s a lot softer,” Choi said of Seoul Street’s Korean corn dogs. “We do add a little bit of wheat flour … to give it that consistency. If it was just rice flour, it wouldn’t have that nice fluff to it.”

There’s a touch of wheat flour in the mochi doughnut batter too, she added, but she wouldn’t describe her pon de ring-style treats as fluffy.

“A traditional doughnut is fluffy; ours is a little bit more dense, almost like a cake,” Choi said. “It’s chewier than regular doughnuts.”

click to enlarge Korean corn dogs, mochi doughnuts, and boba meet at Seoul Street
Photo by Caleb Wiseblood
ICE LIST: Central Coast locals familiar with the MilkT Society shops in Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo can look forward to finding a similar boba and iced tea menu at Santa Maria’s Seoul Street. Owner Teresa Choi’s personal favorite drink on her menu is a simple green iced tea.

Some of Seoul Street’s mochi doughnuts are adorned with savory toppings, like bacon bits or Hot Cheetos (Choi’s personal favorite topping option). Patrons can also choose to have their Korean corn dogs fried with Frosted Flakes or lightly sprinkled with sugar. The latter route is more mainstream than some might assume, Choi explained.

“Most people don’t get it with sugar because they’re so new to it,” said Choi, who estimates that about 80 percent of Seoul Street’s customers since January have opted out of the sugar option. “They don’t understand that a Korean corn dog is sweet and savory.”

Some corn dog toppings—such as potatoes, ramen, and Rice Krispies—are fried with the corn dogs after they’re hand dipped in batter, while the remainder of Seoul Street’s topping selections are added after the corn dogs are fried.

Choi’s Santa Maria shop carries the same sweet boba and tea selections found at her MilkT Society locations. Local fans of the brand should be pleased to know the Seoul Street transition won’t prevent them from ordering the milky libations they’ve become accustomed to in Pismo and SLO.

While business has been steady so far in Santa Maria for Choi, she said profits often fluctuate at her SLO County spots depending on the time of year.

click to enlarge Korean corn dogs, mochi doughnuts, and boba meet at Seoul Street
Photo by Caleb Wiseblood
WINGS OF DESIRE: Alongside its popular Korean corn dogs and mochi doughnuts, Seoul Street in Santa Maria has a diverse variety of other food offerings such as chicken wings and potstickers.

“It’s funny because they kind of support each other,” Choi said of the pair. During the summer, her Pismo shop is usually booming while business is slow in SLO with many Cal Poly students gone for break, she explained. 

But with winter weather, Pismo starts to feel like a “ghost town,” Choi said, while business picks up in SLO. She often keeps her SLO shop open as late as 10 p.m. when schools are in session to accommodate local students who like to camp out and study there awhile.

Before she opened her first MilkT Society location in Fresno in 2020, Choi owned a manicure business. She had always enjoyed boba but never considered making a career out of it until the pandemic forced her to close her salon and consider turning over a new leaf.

Choi said she enjoys running her boba businesses for the same reason she enjoyed being a manicurist: being able to make ends meet in a fun and creative atmosphere.

“I wanted to continue making money while having fun,” Choi said, “and boba fit perfectly.”

Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood is boba fit. Send similar puns to [email protected].

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