Noryangjin Fish Market

Despite having been in Seoul for almost six months, last Tuesday was my first visit to Noryangjin Fish Market. Situated next to the shimmering 63 building in the South West of the city, Noryangjin is the best place in the city to get your hands on some fresh seafood at really good prices.

As eating experiences go, this is up there with the best of them. Simply wander the market floor, pick out a bunch of stuff you fancy the look of (don’t be afraid to haggle for your supper) then bring it down to one of the adjoining restaurants and let them do the rest. They’ll gut, slice, steam or grill anything you give them, leaving you to get on with the serious business of soju and beer.

Anyone for a palate cleanser? A great way to start is with live octopus (San Nakji) Baby Octopi (10,000 won for four) are sliced up and doused with seasame oil and served squirming on the plate. The octopus isn’t really alive, it’s just nerve endings in the tentacles making it move. Nevertheless, it makes for an odd sensation as it wriggles around in your mouth and tries to attach itself to anything it can. The over-riding flavour is of sesame oil (or whatever you choose to dip it in) with a nice, clean sea taste creeping up behind it.

Also not to be missed are the crab and prawns. The prawns are priced at about 15,000 won a kilogram and came grilled in their shells and sprinkled with great big boulders of rock salt. You might have to work a bit to get at the flesh but it’s worth it. Sweet, plump, simple, messy – perfect! Prices for crab meanwhile vary – king crab can fetch for hundreds, but if you shop around you should find yourself something to suit your budget.

One of the main reasons people come to Noryangjin is for raw fish (hwae) and so should you. Your fish of choice is sliced up into sashimi and served simply on a platter with a little wasabi and soy sauce. The fish is as fresh as it comes, and costs a fraction of what it would at a sushi restaurant.

Finally, don’t be alarmed if some left over parts arrive at your table bubbling away inside a spicy broth. This is a great way to finish your meal and ensures you get maximum economy from your “catch!”