Taking advantage of the nicer weather, my wife and I decided to explore a part of Seoul we had never visited before. For our unique trip, we chose the Noryangjin Fish Market, one of the largest of its kind in South Korea. Located just south of the Han River, the market attracts both sightseers and serious connoisseurs of fresh fish. Opened in 1927, Noryangjin Fish Market is a constant buzz of activity with vendors selling several hundred types of fish year-round at their tables. In addition, small restaurants adorn the outer areas of the market, eager to serve customers their recently purchased seafood. For our trip, we armed ourselves with plenty of won (Korean currency) and a hearty appetite.
Exploring the Market
Even before seeing the market, the strong smell acted as a guide to let us know we had reached the right place. We arrived at a second floor entrance with commanding views of the entire venue. Vendors selling every fish imaginable were spread out as far as the eye could see in both directions. Of course we snapped several pictures from our vantage point before heading down to the main area. The sights and sounds were incredible. Vendors shouted prices while buyers tried countering for better deals. The variety of seafood was staggering, from octopus to king crabs to shrimp the size of your foot. There were even creatures for sale I had never seen before. Most of the fish swam around in their tanks, while others were already displayed on a bed of ice. If I was looking for a specific fish to snack on, this was definitely the place to find it.
Dining on Seafood
After wandering the market for a while, we decided to eat at one of the smaller restaurants located along the periphery. At these eateries, you dine on what you buy at the market, usually in the form of sashimi, or raw fish. The only items to purchase in the restaurants are drinks and side dishes, which are usually very inexpensive. The first order of business for us was to purchase a fish. We chose a halibut from one of the vendors, who promptly sliced the fish into thin strips. We brought the food to the eatery and ate with a variety of side dishes, including kimchi, garlic, and greens. Towards the end, servers brought out a spicy soup that we cooked the remaining pieces of fish in. As tradition, we washed down the entire meal with a bottle of Korean soju. Both the experience and meal were amazing.
Visiting Noryangjin Fish Market
If you’re in Seoul and would like to visit the Noryangjin Fish Market, take subway line Number One (blue line) and get off at Noryangjin Station. Signs are posted in English that will guide you to the market. After crossing over the main bridge, follow your nose to the entrance. Remember to have fun and bring a camera for memories and an appetite for seafood.
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