Sunday, August 14, 2016

Noryangjin Fish Market: A place to eat LIVE octopus and fresh seafood in Korea

Noryangjin Fish Market in Seoul is a wholesale fish market which is open 24 hours every day. It was established in 1927 and it covers over 66,000 square meters in an open-air warehouse. Early in the morning around 2am, you can experience fish auctions and throughout the day, you can buy and eat your fresh seafood "Dampa style" just like how we Filipinos do it in Manila. Prices in Noryangjin are 30-40% cheaper versus supermarkets in Korea. 

I've visited Korea four times already but it was my first time to visit Noryangjin to eat LIVE OCTOPUS!!! Yep! you read that right! Eating live octopus has been in my bucket list for so long and that's why we really made sure to cross that item once and for all during our December 2015 trip!

How to get there?
Getting to Noryangjing Fish Market is easy! Ride the train and go to Line 1 where you will alight at Noryangjin Station. There is only one exit (Exit 1), so go to that direction and follow these easy steps:
 Go up the stairs and go straight to Exit 1. 
 In front of you, you will see this foot bridge. Go towards that direction and turn right. At the end of the foot bridge, there's a staircase. Turn left and go down. You know you're in the right direction because you will literally smell the fishy smell from afar!
 ....aaaand you're now in Noryangjing Fish Market!

At first, the stalls can be quite overwhelming because the place is really huge! We've decided to do a price survey first by stall to check the different offerings and their price range but later on we realized that the prices are basically the same so we just headed to the nearest stall near the restaurants.
The most common seafood sold in Noryangjin are clams, king crab, abalone, shrimp, sting ray, sea cucumber, octopus, halibut, giant lobsters, eel, sea bass, snappers, sea urchins, salmon, and tuna. Looking at these fresh and alive seafood which is already a feast for tourists like us!

 Look at this GIAGANTIC Octopus' head and tentacles!!! 
 Nope, we didn't eat those octopus! We only ate the baby ones haha :)
How Noryangjing Fish Market works?
1. Choose the seafood you want to eat. If you want to try a lot of seafood, I suggest you buy the minimum weight.

2. Haggle wisely! Although language is a barrier but if you can, go ahead and try to haggle for the best price.

3. Pay directly to the stall owner. Pay in cash! they do not have credit cards because this is a wet market.

4. Once paid, someone will direct you to a nearby partner restaurant. You are also allowed to choose your own restaurant or take the fresh food home. You can go to any stores from level 2 and 3 but because we did not have any idea where to go...we just followed the usher. It didn't matter though because almost all restaurants cook the same dishes.

5. The person who ushered you to the restaurant will hand over your live seafood to the restaurant worker. They will then ask you what dish you want and how you want your food to be prepared--raw, steamed, grilled, or with soup.

6. Important note: There is a fixed cost per person when eating inside the restaurant. It will cost you about KWN 3,000 or PHP 130 per person for the side dish. Each dish...however it was prepared will cost your about KWN 5,000 or PHP 210 unless you want it raw which does not cost you anything.

7. If you are eating LIVE octopus or Sannakji (baby octopus), you may request this and the waiter will serve it to your table chopped up and still squirming. Usually, it is eaten dipped in sesame oil to "suffocate" the ducts of the baby octopus. You can also dip it in hot sauce to mask the fish taste. CAUTION: eating Sannakji is really dangerous! it can kill a person via suffocation especially when you did not chew the tentacles into smaller pieces before swallowing it. I've read some horror stories of Sannakji related deaths and it is really scary! YOU MUST CHEW REALLY HARD BEFORE SWALLOWING the octopus! It can sometimes go in between your teeth or hang onto your throat so BEWARE. In case you chicken out... you may always put the live octopus on your boiling soup and cook them haha! :) 
We ate fresh oysters which we didn't really like because I preferred the baked ones with oozing cheese haha.
Of course, we tried the live baby octopus with sesame seeds sprinkled on top... that look like maggots from afar! eeewww! We didn't get to finish the entire plate so we just cooked it together with our fish soup.
 These steamed scallops are super yummy and juicy! 
 It is best with wasabi, hot sauce, and perilla leaves or sesame leaves.
 The fish stew is super flavorful and comforting to the tummy! This is best for the winter season :)
 The price list for cooking in restaurant [exclusive of seafood cost in market]:
- Per Person 3,000 Won or 130 Php [for Side Dish]
- Spicy Fish Stew: 10,000 Won (Good for 2), 12,000 Won (Good for 3), 15,000 Won (Good for 4), 20,000 Won (Good for 5)
- Steam or Grill per KG: 5,000 Won for Crab/Shell Fish and 10,000 Won for Shrimp
- Beer or Soju costs 4,000 Won per bottle
In total - we spent 35,000 Won or 1,500 Php for the Fresh Seafood (Live Octopus, Scallops, Oysters). In addition, we spent 21,000 Won or 900 Php for the "Paluto" or cooking service in the Restaurant.

I highly recommend foodies to try Noryangjin Fish Market when you visit Korea with family and friends. It's an experience in itself!

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