Seoul : Seafood Paradise at Noryangjin 노량진

Noryangjin - Street

1st September 2012. Written by Xin Li.
Noryangjin, Dong-jak, Seoul, South Korea
I love visiting the markets of the cities I visit but none of the markets I have visited before was as amazing as Seoul’s Noryangjin Fish Market. The moment you disembark the subway train onto the platform of Noryangjin Station, you could pick up a faint fishy smell of the fish market.
 
Noryangjin - Entry

The wholesale market is housed in a huge warehouse and located slightly away from the Han River. Reputed to be a home to at least 700 stalls and boasting a variety of food items ranging from fermented fish, dried food, vegetables and most notably a myriad of seafood including king crabs, lobsters, hair crabs, snow crabs or more than 5 kinds of prawns, the fish market is a must visit for any foodie visiting the city of Seoul.

Noryangjin - Auntie
Noryangjin - Mummy bought Fish!

We spotted quite a few children around the market. The parents sure love to bring their kids along to the market here.

Noryangjin - Prawns
Noryangjin - Sting Rays
Noryangjin - Fashion

The market is not the most pleasant of places to visit for the casual tourist partly because chances are you will come out smelling like a fish and you will find yourself pestered by fish mongers and restaurant staff alike in this highly competitive environment. Almost the level of Patong masseurs in Phuket or those apparel vendors in Dongdaemun’s a.pm mall.

Noryangjin - Market

Nonetheless, don’t let such things discourage you from exploring the colourful world of seafood, the market also serves the local community hence giving you an opportunity to see locals haggling, picking and doing their grocery shopping….for their meal at home.
 
Noryangjin - Trolley

Honestly, I couldn’t really tell which king crab is better than the other because they all looked similar. The only distinct difference is whether it was still moving or not. With our instinct, we steered cleared of the immobile ones.

Noryangjin - Weight
Noryangjin - Overturned

Did I mention variety of seafood? Crabs itself there are at least 3 kinds and prawns of various sizes too. Not to mention plenty of weird looking seafood (is that even edible!?) such as those seaworms or huge shells that look more normal as a home décor rather than food.

Noryangjin - Great for BBQ?

Scenes of fishes being killed are not uncommon at the market.

Noryangjin - Death

Words couldn’t describe what Noryangjin has to offer and photos barely accomplish that too, you will have to go down and see (hear, taste, touch and smell) it for yourself.

Noryangjin - How?
Noryangjin - Watch Me!
Noryangjin - Performance
Noryangjin - Children also come.
Noryangjin - Wet Market

There are a few restaurants located at the fringe of the market and they seem to have some tie-ups with some fishmongers so if you are a diner at a certain restaurant you would apparently get a lower price for the seafood at their affiliated stall….so they claimed.

Noryangjin - Wholesale

However, we decided not to take up that offer and ended up buying seafood from a stall randomly picked by a friend of mine because he “likes the look of it” and we got a 1.3kg King Crab for about 28000 KRW and 500g of (rather big) Prawns for around 15000 KRW. We also got an abalone and baby octopus out of curiosity.

Noryangjin - Stall

After making out purchase, we have to look for a restaurant and the stall owner whom we got your seafood from recommended to us to a lady who brought us underground to a restaurant named Jung Ang Sik Dang 중앙식당 with a few groups of Koreans enjoying some stew and crabs. The sight of some groups dining in the restaurant seemed to set us at ease.

Noryangjin - Meow!
 
The cat seems to know where good seafood is to be found.

Noryangjin - 중앙식당

Our crab being prepared….

Noryangjin - 중앙식당
Noryangjin - 중앙식당

Here is how it works if you get your own seafood, the restaurant charge you a basic fee per person ranging from 2000-3000 KRW, mostly 3000 KRW (we have asked around!) and then they will charge you the cooking fee. In our case, 5000 KRW for a crab and 5000 KRW for the prawns, and depending on which restaurant, that fee applies to a particular style of cooking only, so you can’t have sashimi and grill or grill and boiled at the same time.

Noryangjin - 중앙식당

Then add the restaurant fee and the cost of your seafood that would be the total cost you will be paying for your meal at Noryangjin (unless of course you want to include that 1050 KRW subway fare)

Noryangjin - 중앙식당

The seafood here were kept simple which is good, as you really get to enjoy the seafood without any lemon juice (a deadly sin according to Mu Yao because only seafood that ain’t fresh needs that!) or masking sauce. They do provide condiments such as lettuce and shiso leaves to wrap your seafood with and condiments like wasabi, shoyu, sesame oil with garlic or Korean hot pepper sauce with pureed garlic.

Noryangjin - Octopus Sashimi

The Octopus Sashimi is like one thing everyone just has to try when in Korea, like fugu in Japan or balu in Philippines? Personally, I think it is just a been-there-done-that kind of dish. Those moving octopus tentacles don’t carry much flavour and it was just chewy. I likened it to eating a very chewy and sticky muah chee.

Noryangjin - Octopus Sashimi
 
The Abalone Sashimi on the other hand was slightly better. It has a texture similar to an unripened mango with a juicy flesh and a stiff, crunchy outer layer.

Noryangjin - Prawns
 
The Prawns, were just divine. Huge and juicy prawns that is delicious on its own. I love eating it wrapped with lettuce or shiso leaf with the addictive gochujang with pureed garlic sauce.

Noryangjin - King Crab

Then there is the star of the meal, the King Crab. I have to agree that upon tasting it, my first impression was surumi (the crab stick meat). The meat wasn’t succulent as Sri Lankan crabs, as it has a more delicate texture but it was enjoyable nonetheless. The shell, while spiky was amazingly light and soft.

Noryangjin - King Crab

I was scrapping for more crab meat towards the end of the meal. The broth from crab was awesome too. The meat also goes very well with the gochujang sauce with pureed garlic and the earthy and herbal shiso leaves.

Noryangjin - Outside

In the end, we had a very satisfying meal at Noryangjin.

To get to Noryangjin, you can take the subway to Noryangjin Station on Line 1 which connects directly with Seoul Station, Sadang and Yongsan. The fish market is directly next to the station and you could get there via an overhead bridge.

Noryangjin - Waiting

3 comments:

  1. wa!! I wanna go!

    lucky you. U even bought abalone! The other time, went I went to korea to study, there was this part where the ah juma will go into the sea and catch the sea shells out and u eat it on the spot.

    ReplyDelete
  2. haha make it a point to go Noryangjin next time you visit Seoul, other students were telling me Jagalchi Market in Busan have even more seafood!

    Abalone sashimi is definitely a first for me.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have never been to jagalchi. But been to busan. Its a seafood heavan all the eateries sell fresh/live seafood. shiok. Enjoy ur stay in korea!

    ReplyDelete

 

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