My recent visit to the Noryangjin Fish Market was an incredible experience of epic proportions. I had two fabulous friends in town from Oakland who wanted to go check it out- I had no idea what a treat we were in for! Noryangjin Fish market is a sprawling indoor market located just south of the Han River off of Line 1. When you descend out of Noryangjin Station (there is only 1exit,) you will see a sign on the bridge directly outside of the station exit with an arrow pointing you towards the fish market. You make a right over the bridge and you will find yourself one flight of stairs above a spectacle of seafood. In the off-chance that you have trouble finding the market, you will certainly be able to follow the potent smell.
I imagine that anything and everything that is edible from under the sea can be found at this amazing venue. We went to the market on a weeknight and, to our surprise, encountered not a single foreigner. However, the seafood vendors are incredibly friendly and approached us incessantly as we meandered through the aisles, in awe of all of the creatures. Honestly, I had never seen 99% of the goods for sale at the market. Luckily, my friends, Shelley and Johnny, are super food-savvy and were able to navigate past the sea cucumbers and sea urchins to find the good stuff.
As you peruse the stalls and gawk at the huge octopuses, sting rays and enormous king crabs trying to claw their way out of the tanks, you must decide what you want to nosh on. After you make your decisions, bargain for your price and gather your goodies, you will be escorted to one of many restaurants, where your seafood will be cooked for you.
We decided to start with prawns, a king crab and live octopus. Yes, that’s right, we did it- we tackled the live octopus! For those of you who don’t know, eating live octopus is not for the weak hearted. The octopus is chopped up, but the tentacles are still all sorts of creepy and crawly, jittering and jumping all over the place. When you put the tentacles in your mouth, they suction to the inside of your mouth! You must chew and chew to prevent the tentacles from suctioning to your throat on the way down. Woooeeee!
Our experience at the restaurant was not only delicious, but extremely entertaining. We had the pleasure of having the company of a few very intoxicated Korean men. We joined them in throwing back the soju and beer while we enjoyed our awesome food. To top it all off, we ended up getting a lobster as well. All in all, for several bottles of soju, many-a-beer, prawns, live octopus, a king crab and a lobster- all cooked, prepared and served for us, the damage was W120,000, or about $107 USD. What a steal!
I highly, highly recommend going to check out Noryangjin for not only an awesome meal, but a truly unique, fantastic experience. I can’t wait to go back!