As we left the Noryangjin metro my friends and I proceeded in anticipation towards a salt filled ocean aroma. If you are lost and en route to the fish market just follow your nose. As we got closer, the wonderful ocean smell swiftly turned into an overwhelming, unique scent of fresh fish. The scent was not repulsing, but to some it might be. You could not see the market yet, but my nose could tell we had arrived at noryangjin fish market seoul!
Once we arrived at the fish market my eyes finally caught up to my nose. The sensory overload was really incredible. I am an avid lover of fish and seafood, but this was one of the biggest fish markets I have ever seen. The Noryangjin Fish market is the biggest fish market in Korea and it is a massive cluster of individual stands. Each seller has a wide variety of fish and other seafood. I was surprised to see so many different types of seafood, most of which were unfamiliar to me. The market boasts over 830 different types of seafood. It was quite shocking since some of the creatures looked like they came from another planet.
The Noryangjin fish market is actually open 24/7 so the place never really closes down. You can fulfill your fish craving at any time of the day. Although it is always open, the majority of stands close around 22:00. The workers were cheerful and seemed to have a true passion for distributing their daily catch to eager visitors.
We strolled around the market at dinnertime on a Sunday, it was bustling full of locals and other tourists. Our main mission was to eat live octopus. After speaking with a few of the shop owners we snagged a huge piece of salmon and a live octopus.
The seafood distributor cut up the salmon and directed us to a nearby restaurant. The eatery was packed full with other people enjoying seafood, beer, soju and other delicious foods. The atmosphere was full of laughter, joy and an overall sense of excitement. Basically the restaurant allows you to bring your own seafood, but charges a small sitting fee. The restaurant served rice, side dishes and some other food upon request.
The chef cut up the octopus and brought it out to us with a side dish of oil. I could not believe the severed tentacles were still squirming around! I was rather eager, but hesitant to try my first bite. It was hard to pick up the tentacles since they wanted to stay stuck to the plate and avoid inevitably being eaten. After a short battle with the octopus I finally mustered up the courage to place the wiggling tentacle in my mouth. Overall the taste was okay, it is very mild and underwhelming. The texture however, was squishy and extremely chewy. I had about four more tentacles after the first one. It was a pleasant experience, but I think I’ll stick to delicious salmon in the future. Overall, the Noryangjin fish market is a wonderful experience. It is perfect for any fish lover or people looking to visit a unique part of Seoul.