Korea's Noryangjin Fish Market a seafood paradise in Seoul
Korea's Noryangjin Fish Market a seafood paradise in Seoul
If you’re a seafood lover, Noryangjin Fish Market (노량진 수산시장) is a great spot to visit and explore.
This market is a top destination among foreigners for many reasons. Without a doubt, the Noryangjin Fish Market is one of the best places to find incredibly fresh seafood in the center of Seoul. Also, before having a seafood feast, seeing a variety of sea creatures swimming in water tanks is a very unique experience. You might think some of the creatures are strange as you see them for the first time in your life. I promise that although they might jump out to try a jail breakout, they won’t attack you like the Kraken!
Some of my American friends are not the type to usually order seafood. They say it’s because a lot of the U.S. is not near the ocean, so they are normally used to other meats. But when I have been able to introduce Korean seafood dishes into their life, they have always found at least one entree they enjoyed. I cannot stress enough how many different seafood options there are in a Korean fish market.
Because many Americans don’t eat as much seafood as Koreans, many might avoid walking through a fish market. Some of them might even think the smell is unbearable. However, because a lot of the fish are still alive, the smell is tolerable. Fish can be your friends or food!
When visiting the market, you’ll feel like you are in a special aquarium where you can select the displays as your dinner.
Things to know
Location: Seoul Metro Line 1,9 Noryangjin station exit 9
- Markets: runs 24 hours, but many closed by 10 p.m. (No holiday off)
- Restaurants: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. (Mostly)
1st & 2nd floors: Fresh things from the sea
2nd floor: Dried and salted seafood
2nd & 5th floors: Restaurants
3rd & 4th floors: Parking lots
Guide for enjoying fish market
1. Prepare your outfits
Avoid fancy clothes and shoes because the critters can spread fish juice. The floors of the market are usually wet, so it can be slippery. Be prepared by wearing casual outfits.
2. Check the market price first
Explore the first and second floors before purchasing any items. To check the standard price of an item, visit two or three different shops and ask the price of the item. Vendors are used to it, so don’t be afraid of asking the price even if you aren’t going to buy from them.
Also, most vendors follow standardized prices fixed by the market, and the quality of the service provided by a vendor can be very different depending on the shop.
3. Decide where to eat
You can either take the items to your home or have them cooked at restaurants in the market. Eating at the restaurant is a very convenient way to enjoy the amazing seafood you purchased. The vendor you bought your seafood from will guide you to a restaurant that will cook your food.
Though you bring the ingredients to the restaurant, they will charge service fees for cooking the items, using the table and side dishes. It’s definitely worth trying in the fish market as they are experts at transforming the fresh critters into delicious Korean seafood dishes.
4. Ask for discounts (haggle)
Don’t hesitate to haggle or ask for extra stuff, especially when you are buying expensive items. Just by asking, the vendor might lower the price or add extra products such as clams or shrimp for free!
5. Culturally changing
Many foreigners experience uncomfortable situations by vendors when shopping at traditional markets. It’s true that Noryangjin Fish Market used to have a bad reputation of selling items with expensive prices and overcharging tourists. However, nowadays these actions are prohibited and the market has put a lot of effort in changing the culture and environment in a positive way.
Customers should report to the customer service center on the second floor if they experience any of the following acts from a vendor:
- Forcefully asking customers to come to their shop
- Swapping purchased items
- Misrepresenting the country of origin
- Cheating on the weight (By adding water in the basket, using their hand to put pressure on the scale, scale not zeroed correctly, not deducting the weight of the basket, etc.)
The first 30 minutes are free then a 1,000 won charge is added every 20 minutes. Ask vendors for a parking voucher after you purchase items from them. Each ticket will provide a 1,000 won discount.
Make sure to pay the fee through the machine by the customer service center on the second floor or next to the elevators on the third and fourth floors.
Popular Seafood Choices
1. Raw Fish (Hoe 회)
Most fish are consumed raw as hoe (pronounced “ho-eh”) in the fish market. The vendor is going to immediately perform their sharp knife skills to transform the live fish into delicious raw sashimi once you purchase it.
FYI, keep eyes on your item after your purchase and see if the vendor is serving the same fish you bought.
Live fish types
- Flatfish (Gwang-eo 광어)
- Rockfish (U-reok 우럭)
- Yellowtail (Bang-eo 방어)
Fish not live but still fresh enough to eat raw
- Salmon (Yeon-eo 연어)
- Tuna (Chamchi 참치)
2. Specialty Shellfish Items
The following 3 items are for special occasions such as New Years or celebration as it usually costs 50,000 won -80,000 won ($38-$61) per kg.
The shellfish may be taken home alive, but most people have the items cooked at the market for an extra charge. This usually costs around 10,000 won, but can vary depending on the weight. Also, you can ask an employee to pre-split the shellfish for 10,000 won.
When deciding what to purchase, ask a vendor if you can touch the leg of the shellfish to check how much meat they have inside. Good quality shellfish is defined not for its size but the amount of meat it has.
- King Crab (킹크랩)
- Snow Crab (Dae-ge 대게)
- Lobster (랍스터)
This shop offers quality shellfish at reasonable prices. Plus, the vendor gives lots of extra service on the side when you buy an item.
Location: Naeng-dong 026 (냉동 026) near to South gate 4 (Nam 4 moon) on the first floor
3. Shrimp (Sae-u 새우)
This is going to be the easiest option for Americans. The fresh shrimp taste fantastic and are cheap and easy to cook. There are various sizes of shrimp and they are sold at a good price. Take them to the restaurants in the market and try roasted shrimp over rock salt or with butter.
4. Long-legged octopus (Nak-ji 낙지)
This is known as a popular strange dish for Americans! The pieces of live octopus are still moving even after they are chopped up. It is usually served with sesame oil as an appetizer before a giant seafood feast.
5. Spicy fish soup (Maeun-tang 매운탕)
Koreans usually eat raw seafood with a spicy fish soup called Maeun-tang and add some noodles to it.
The leftover fish skin and guts are great ingredients for the soup’s broth. So, don’t hesitate to ask the vendor to pack it up for you if you want to make some delicious seafood.
There are countless seafood creatures to try in the market. So, take a look around and challenge yourself!
- Crab (Ge 게)
- Clams (Jogae 조개)
- Scallops (Garibi 가리비)
- Oysters (Gul 굴)
- Squid (Oh-jing-eo 오징어)
- Octopus (Mun-eo 문어)
- Sea cucumber (Hae-sam 해삼)
- Sea Squirt (Meong-ge 멍게)
- Spoon Worm (Gae-bul 개불)
Speakin’ Korean: At the Fish Market
- Fish market: Susan-sijang (수산시장)
- Market: Sijang (시장)
- Parking lot: Jucha-jang (주차장)
- Parking voucher: Jucha-gwon (주차권)
- To go/to pack: Pojang (포장)
- Restaurant: Sik-dang (식당)
- Side dish: Banchan (반찬)
- Extra item for free: Seo-bi-seu/Service (서비스)
- This: Igeo (이거)
- Please give me: Juseyo (주세요)
- Please do it for me: Hae-juseyo (해주세요)
- To buy: Sa-da (사다)
- To eat: Meok-da (먹다)
How much is it?: Eolmayeyo? (얼마예요?)
Where is it?: Eo-di-e isseoyo? (어디에 있어요?)
I’ll buy it: Igeo salgeyo. (이거 살게요.)
I’ll eat at the restaurant: Sik-dang-e-seo meokeul-ge-yo. (식당에서 먹을게요.)
I’ll take it home: Jib-e gajeo-gal-ge-yo. (집에 가져갈게요.)
Can I get some extra items (for free)?: Service butak-haeyo. (서비스 부탁해요.)
Can you lower the price a little bit?: Jo-geum-man kkakka-juseyo. (조금만 깎아주세요.)
Please give me more: Igeo deo juseyo. (이거 더 주세요.)
Please trim this for me: Sonjil hae-juseyo. (손질 해주세요.)
Please make this to go/Please pack them up: Pojang hae-juseyo. (포장 해주세요.)
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