Whether you’re a foodie or not, markets are often the best place to feel the livelihood of the community. And in Korea, a peninsula nation surrounded by sea, fish market is the obvious choice. Noryangjin Fish Market, sitting on the southern bank of Han River, is DARAMJI’s favorite.
The fish market has recently moved to a brand new building. While the memory of long, dark alleys of fish stalls will be missed by many, the new complex houses over a thousand fish merchants managing almost seven hundred stalls. The market is open for business all year round, even on Christmas and New Year’s Day, and around the clock – so there really is no excuse for missing it!
Unless you are a serious foodie and an early bird willing to watch auctions in the small hours of the night (auctions start from 1am – ask DARAMJI for details), you’ll likely start on the trading floor. Don’t be put off by sellers calling out and – sometimes literally – dragging you to their stalls – it’s all part of the drama. Take time to walk up and down the aisles to take it all in.
You’ll find just about every imaginable kind of catch here. Noryangjin novices will of course find comfort in the more familiar sights of salmon, abalones, lobsters and the like. But don’t stop there; shop owners are generally extremely friendly and eager to name those fantastic sea creatures for you – even if many of them may not have recognizable English names.
Many Seoulites head to Noryangjin in search of the freshest hwoe – raw fish in Korean. And they certainly have the system for it. You pick a fish, haggle for a bargain (DARAMJI does this best), and the stall owner will take care of the rest – your choice of catch will be ready, all sliced up and complete with garnish and sweet-and-spicy red pepper sauce, in just a few minutes!
Not sure about taking a plate of raw fish back to your hotel room? Don’t you worry – here’s a little DARAMJI tip to do Noryangjin like a pro. On the second floor of the building are rows of restaurants where you can tuck in to the delights of Noryangjin. What’s interesting is, you pick a fish on the trading floor and ask for the fish to be prepared and delivered to a restaurant of your choice. If you opt for raw fish, they’ll even prepare a hot fish stew (mae-un-tang) with the remains of the fish.
So there you go – if you’re a fan of a good round of soju, Noryangjin, with all its mercantile drama and fresh produce, is a serious contender for a hearty night out. Don’t be afraid even if you don’t speak a word of Korean and/or you don’t know a thing about fish. Just make sure to put on a sturdy pair of shoes (no hills or your Sunday best pair) and call DARAMJI – who knows, by the end of the evening, you may even have the (Dutch) courage to go Old Boy and try a plate of live octopus (now that’s a topic for a whole post in its own right.)
EXPLORE with DARAMJI – Visit Noryangjin with DARAMJI and be sure to find the freshest catch at the best price. A DARAMJI guide will help you navigate around the market, haggle like a local and find a spot for a scrumptious plate of hwoe with soju.