Going to the famous Noryangjin Fish Market was something I have wanted to do ever since I first arrived in Seoul. So about five months after arriving, I had decided it was time to give this place a visit. The fish market is the biggest in Seoul, and to say it is huge is truly an understatement. There were fish vendors selling all types of fish, and pretty much anything else living underwater. The best part about Noryangjin was that there was a restaurant right above the market, were they would cook the fresh fish you just purchased. The restaurant charged a small fee for cooking the food, however it wasn't that expensive.
While I was there I happened to see a decent amount of foreigners. I asked a local vendor why there were so many foreigners, and she informed me in broken English, that the market is its own tourist attractions and people from all over the world visit the market. So I was one of the thousand of tourist visiting for the sight, smell and taste!
Leaving from my house at Seoul National University Station (서울대입구 (관악구청)) on line 2. The fish market was about a 35 minute subway ride with one transfer. Eventually we had arrived to the subway station of the Market, Noryangjin Station (노량진역). We took exit 7 and walked about 100 meters to the entrance of the fish market.
The entrance and walk into the market was a bit strange; however don't be fooled by the bizarre appearance. This is the entrance to the market! The path makes you go into a long tunnel with more street vendors before you emerge to the actual fish market.
There were many people selling many different fruits and vegetables as side dishes to be paired with the fresh fish one just purchased.
Then finally at the end of the tunnel came this sign, pointing to the fish market!
Now it seemed like we were in the right place.
As soon as I walked into the fish market, you could see the massive size of it! It was truly astonishing. Each fish vendor had their own tiny section, jam-packed with numerous crustaceans and live fish. This was the only picture displaying the overall market. Unfortunately it completely fails to show the massive size of the market.
This was the typical style of stand at the market. Only the product they were selling would change.
One thing that seemed to be a common theme at this market was the absurd abundance of stock each vendor stand had at a single time. They must sell a great amount of seafood each day to keep so much live food at one time.
One of the coolest things to see at the market was the big fish that were put on display. It almost seemed that these big fish were put on display like a trophy. Each vendor trying to display a slightly bigger fish than their neighboring fish vendor. This was just one big tuna; one of the many that I saw at the market.
One of the strangest fish I had happened to find at the market was this thing called "Gaebul" (개불). Which is actually a type of spoon worm. Naturally I had to try this exotic new Korean dish. So we had had to shop around a bit to find someone who would just sell us one. Most vendors wanted to sell 4 of them for 10,000 KRW (about $10.00). However we ended up finding one and bought it right away.
The lady who eventually sold us one, picked up the Gaebul and was shoving it in our faces! It was squirming and moving like an over-pressurized water hose. It eventually started squirting water at me and the other people I was with. You can see it spewing water in the picture to the right. Eventually this kind lady was nice enough to sell us one Gaebul for two dollars. It was a great deal!
Now it was time to get serious! We had our first purchase and now we really started to buy things to eat! So we started off buy buying one of my favorite types of fish called "Gwang-oh" (광어) or flatfish. So the fish vendor scooped it right out of the fish tank, and threw it on the scale to get an accurate price. Right after I had paid, the vendor took the fish behind the counter and had her way with it.
A few minutes and cuts later, he had prepared my plate of "Hweh" (회) fresh sliced fish. Which had consisted of tuna, flatfish, salmon and a few other types of fish which names were lost in translation. In total our plate of fish ran us about $50.00 dollars and was a huge amount of fish!
We were getting hungry and our tab was getting pretty high! So we decided to buy a couple shrimp and one crab, before agreeing that we had enough food. So we headed upstairs to the restaurant, where they prepared the food that was just purchased downstairs.
Above are pictures of the restaurant which had a really nice atmosphere. It was called "Jinju" (진주) which means pearl in Korean.
To the left, on the small plate is the Korean Gaebul, which was cut and served raw. We were informed that eating Gaebul raw with sesame oil is the typical way for people to eat this Korean dish. It had a very chewy texture, almost as if you were eating rubber. Besides that, the Gaebul didn't have much flavor.
In the middle was our massive dish of sliced raw fish (or know in sushi terms as: sashimi). It was some of the freshest fish I have ever had! The people who sold it to us also threw in a free set of sushi. The orange pieces were salmon and the white were flatfish.
About fifteen minutes into eating our raw fish, the second course of our meal had arrived. Which was the harry crab we had purchased downstairs at the market for $30.00. This was actually my first time eating crab, so my friends had to help me eat the intimidating new food. About ten minutes had passed and the whole crab was reduced to the picture on the right. At this point we had cracked the main body of the crab open, and mixed rice with the murky crab juice to make a crab-shell porridge. I was a bit skeptical at first, and immediately after taking my first bite of it, I had knew it wasn't for me. To put it briefly, tasted just like drinking pure ocean water.
The aftermath of the seafood feast we had this weekend! In total to spit the bill 5 ways each person had to pay about $28.00. I would say for all that food it was a pretty good deal!
Noryangjin is an excellent market. It truly is place that I think every tourist in Seoul should spend an afternoon picking their lunch or dinner alive, and then enjoying it minutes later. The food is incredible to say the least and the quality can't be beat. If you are a seafood lover this is definitely a place you shouldn't miss while in Seoul.
On another note, when you come here be aware that the food vendors seek out foreigners and charge them a inflated price. This is an easy way for them to get money, so it is important that when you go, try to get a Korean local to go with you. Just to make sure the seafood vendors are not taking advantage of your wallet! If you can not get a local Korean to go with you, another tactic is to seek out the vendors who publicly post prices. That way you know what you are getting for what price.
Noryangjin market is not too far from other popular tourist attractions within Seoul. It is located at Noryangjin Station (노량진역) on lines 1 and 9. Then take exit 7 from the station and walk about 100 meters straight ahead and you will see the entrance to the right. Walk through the tunnel leading to the market, and on the other side you will find Noryangjin market!
Address: 674, Nodeul-ro, Dongjak-gu, Seoul 서울특별시 동작구 노들로 674 (노량진동)