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fish ok – Noryangjin fish market in Seoul

Sometimes you are cursed by having done things in the wrong order. Years ago I went to Angkor in Cambodia and every historical site I have been to since has suffered by comparison: Machu Picchu seemed like an overtrampled pile of peasant’s huts and classical European forts like Carcassonne became underwhelming. Which is a shame as if I had done those first and then Angkor it would have been a progression of wonder.

Noryangjin Fish Market in Seoul

And exactly the same is true of Noryangjin fish market which generally appears in people’s top 10 things to do in Seoul. If this had been my first Asian fish market experience I would have been wowed by the dingy workmanlike atmosphere and excited by the freshness of the food.

Noryangjin Fish Market in Seoul

However, if you have visited Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo the Korean version – Noryangjin – comes across like its little baby brother with mediocre fish and a junior level selection.

Noryangjin Fish Market in Seoul

Similarly if one compares the food you can get to the wet markets of Hong Kong and, in particular, places like Aberdeen Wholesale Fish Market it is, being kind, meh. The cooking, flavours and precison that come as standard in any HK fish restaurant are absent in any of the restaurants I’ve been to in Noryangjin.

Noryangjin Fish Market in Seoul

That said where Noryangjin does succeed is on atmosphere. If is a damp photogenic place which reminds you that Seoul is not truly the city of coffee shops you might believe from places like Sinsa-dong. And as with most things in Korea you can elevate the experience by judicious application of the official medicine of choice – soju. I can confirm that if you take Noryangjin fish market, visit there late evening on a ‘going out night’ (i.e. later in the week), bring friends and apply soju it becomes a whole different kettle of fun.

Noryangjin Fish Market in Seoul

If you haven’t been what one does is pick your victims from one of the stalls dotted around (they take cards) and then carry it over to one of the restaurants around, underneath and over the fish market to cook. That is where the soju lives as well : / Through in some live octopus and other types of squeam inducing food that I haven’t had outside of Korean and it can even be a success. And just try to avoid thinking back wistfully to your visit to Tokyo or Hong Kong.

Noryangjin Fish Market in Seoul

  • Address – Dongjak-gu Noryangjin-dong 13-8 / TeJc Gmap here
  • Price – it depends on how much fish you buy but KRW 20,000 to 50,000

2 Comments

  1. Tokyo and/or Hong Kong it may not be… but it beats the hell out of any of the fishmongers i’ve been to in London (by the looks of things). And I like your recognition that the application of a local alcohol can make any experience more interesting (even the eating of live octopus…) and fun. You’d be amazed what the liberal consumption of decent beers can do to improve a late night snack stop in the Big Smoke. Actually, you probably wouldn’t ;)

  2. Liberal consumption of beers… I think that is one food trend I have down. I don’t think … dammit … forgotten the name but the one by Canary Wharf is that bad. And you can get a fry up there!

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