Seoul’s Noryangjin Fish Market
An authentic experience at the fish market in Seoul! It’s located just under some highway bridges. Lively, happening, and lots of tourists! It’s not for the faint-hearted! Many of the shop owners don’t speak much English. You can most likely get away with some pointing and the ever trusty Google translate and some calculator bargaining. We bought a large crab, some delicious abalone, clams and shellfish as well as a delicious plate of sashimi (raw fish). Definitely a place for seafood foodies!
The shopkeeper then led us to a crowded traditional restaurant just a few steps away with our bags of live and super fresh seafood. In the restaurant, we sat down on floor mats and waited ages before our grilled shellfish arrived. Followed by our awesome crab!! We couldn’t quite finish the food and told them that we didn’t want the seafood soup which was supposed to be the last course. Our meal took about 2 hours because of the crowd in the restaurant, which was patronized by local Koreans as well. We watched them order live (and jumping!!) prawns, which they de-shelled and (while still wriggling), dipped in sauce and ate! That was a whole new level! Other interesting dishes were small octopus which could also have been eaten live… (will have to add it to our next Seoul trip bucket list!)
Food: ***** (absolute deliciousness!!! Cooked to perfection – nothing was over cooked and the flavours were not diluted!)
Cost: **** (we paid all up $80 all up for 4 of us including 1 huge crab 1.5kg crab!!!)
Atmosphere: *** (don’t expect 5 star service or ambience- after all it’s a restaurant in a fish market under the bridge!)
Traveller’s tip: After getting off at Noryanjin station, you’d have to walk across the bridge (Note that this isn’t the pedestrian bridge across the road), right to the end of the bridge, through some car parks and then down a couple flights of dingy stairs, where you’d see the fish market.
You can find this everywhere!! Pretty much usually late night places like in the neighbourhood where we were staying (see Accommodation post). Some upmarket Korean restaurants will provide a mini free-flow salad bar as well as a waitress to flip your meat! Average price we found was between $15 – $20 per person. Kimchi, radish and all side dishes are free flow so make the most of it!
We went for our first Korean BBQ the night we landed after visiting the palace and Insadong areas. It was about 1am on a Friday night. Many Korean BBQ restaurants around our apartment were still open. I’d have to admit, it was fun to watch many drunk Korean office workers playing beer games or stumble home. Korean BBQ is often drunk with Soju and Hite beers. Both can be mixed. We particularly liked the grapefruit Soju!
Traveller’s tip: If you’re out late, most trains stop around mid night so you’d have to order an Uber or make sure you have your address written down in Korean for the Taxi driver!
KOREAN FRIED CHICKEN!!!
That is all. You NEED to try fried chicken in Korea and make sure you do it multiple times because you WILL MISS IT!!! There’s many different places to go. We walked into a Lotteria (McDonalds equivalent) and ordered nuggets. And the nuggets were the juiciest crispiest nuggets we have ever had. With real chicken. There are many dedicated fried chicken places which get quite busy at night. We pretty much picked one with the most Koreans in it ;).
Most fried chicken dishes cost between $10 to $15 and servings are typically Korean big. Of course, fried chicken has to be had with beer and Soju (who counts calories when you’re on holiday right?). Again, we had a really good fried chicken dish in the random restaurant we walked into in Hongdae. Needless to say, the little one really did enjoy his fried chicken too.
Traveller’s tip: Unless you have specific fried chicken restaurants on your agenda, there’s sooo many fried chicken places you’d come across just explore and follow the locals! Menus are typically uncomplicated.
I could not get enough of Korean Bibimbap. We had our fist one in Inchon airport and it was delicious. Pretty much every Bibimbap I had in Seoul was so full of flavour. It made all other Bibimbaps I have had outside of Korea pale in comparison. The condiments and sides all complement perfectly. Bibimbaps can be found in pretty much every other Korean restaurant with hearty serves costing around $8 – 12.
Other interesting Korean dishes to try
- Naengmyeon places – noodles served with an icy broth usually served in the summer. Wierdly delicious.
- Japchae – fried sweet potato noodles usually served as a side dish
- Red Rice Cakes (Tteokbokki) – keep a look out for late night roadside food stalls.
- Mung Bean Pancake (Bindaetteok) – found in Gwangjang market.
Ice-cream, bingsu and other ice-related dishes!!!
Koreans seem to love their ice dishes in the summer time. Not only do you have your regular ice-creams, you get snow ones, super creamy ones, Bingsu (shaved milk ice with various toppings), Sobok (healthier ice-cream made from grains) and light fruity ones. Plenty of cafes have them. Make sure you try at least one Korean dessert place such as Sulbing which has outlets pretty much at all main tourist neighbourhoods! Dishes cost around $8-10.
Bakeries can be found in almost every country. But it’s definitely interesting to note how different places do their baking differently. You’d be pleasantly surprised the interesting flavours and concepts that bread can be made into. Paris Baguette is a bakery chain that has a wide variety of breads, pastries and sweets and can be found in almost every street corner.