Dining at Seoul’s Noryangjin Fish Market

Just before school ended a few weeks ago, some friends and I made the jaunt to Noryangjin Wholesale Fisheries Market, located right below the centre of the Han River.

Despite the fact that the market was located a mere 10 or 15-minute bus ride from our dorms, for a few of us (myself included), this was our first time going. Noryangjin Market is a pretty major tourist site in Seoul, and a definite “must-see” while visiting the city.

One of our more passionate fellow exchange students would lead impromptu mini-tours to the market during the wholesale auction time. The thing is, these tours were a tad bit early. While I certainly would’ve loved to see the lively atmosphere and get a good deal on the fish at the same time, I just couldn’t seem to drag myself out of bed in time for these 4:00am adventures! In hindsight, and with only a few weeks left in this city, I wish I would’ve gone.

In any case, we still made it to the market!

However, it was a bit last-minute and I didn’t exactly research enough travel tips before going.

We all think we were ripped off a bit, but the food was so good and the experience was so essential that we didn’t care ๐Ÿ™‚

Entering the market from the subway

Entering the market from the subway

_MG_1916

Would you like tentacles in your meal today?

Would you like tentacles in your meal today?

Stalls upon stalls

Stalls upon stalls

Where to next?

Where to next?

A fishmonger stands with his wares

A fishmonger stands with his wares

This salmon looked pretty good, so we picked up a couple filets and some lobster-ish looking things (hey, they were really good!). After meeting up with a couple other friends who’d already bought their fish, we made our way to one of the nearby restaurants to get everything all cooked up.

Nice presentation

Nice presentation

Et voila, the results! Juicy, tender salmon. I didn’t take as many photos as I would’ve liked, but you get the picture!

Possibly some of the best salmon I've ever tasted - and I'm from the Pacific Northwest!

Possibly some of the best salmon I’ve ever tasted – and I’m from the Pacific Northwest!

Of course, all of that seafood needed to be washed down with a few bottles of Korea’s finest ale, Cass. Hey, when you don’t have a nice Chardonnay for the fish, what’re you gonna do? I should mention that the conversation at this meal was conducted in French, which was super for me. Good practice, and a good ego adjustment to realize that my French isn’t as good as I sometimes like to believe it is!

_MG_1923

The prawn/lobster-ish things are in the centre.. Couldn’t figure out what they were, but they were good!

The restaurant even gave us a “service” (Konglish for “on-the-house”) haemul pajeon. Nice!

Focus is off :( But the haemul pajeon (seafood pancake) was pretty good!

Focus is off ๐Ÿ˜ฆ But the haemul pajeon (seafood pancake) was pretty good!

Overall a memorable experience.

Not sure if I’ll try to make it back to Noryangjin before I leave, as I have a sneaking suspicion that you can only get the best deals during the wholesale auction (and hey, I make no promises about being able to get up at that time!).

Also, I was able to visit Jalgachi Market in Busan during my free K-Shuttle bus tour last fall. There, I was able to stuff myself with (raw) fish for less than $10 – as opposed to this dinner in Seoul, which cost over $30.

Granted, in Busan I had a local/tour guide with me who knew the best places to go – and to be honest, we didn’t even buy anything inside the market. We went to a vendor on the street outside, which could be why we got such a good deal.

As well, we took our spoils to go and sat on a park bench instead of paying a “BYOF” (bring your own fish – lol) fee somewhere ^_^ I’m not cheap, just thrifty!! I swear it!

Anyways, if anything, a trip to Noryangjin is worth it just for the photos. It’s a lively, colourful atmosphere that you may not see back home.

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11 thoughts on “Dining at Seoul’s Noryangjin Fish Market

    • The salmon was the most expensive part of the meal; I realized looking at the photos after that it was from Norway. I think the two fillets were around 20,000w. It was worth it though, since it was definitely the best part of the meal. I’m from the Pacific Northwest (have eaten a lot of salmon in my life!) and it was some of the best I’ve ever had.

      Altogether, the meal was around 40,0000w ($40) per per person. This included the fish, paying the restaurant to prepare it for us, beers, table service, etc.There were around 10 of us.

      I think we could’ve gotten a cheaper price… I’m pretty confident with my Korean language bargaining skills, but I just didn’t know what most stuff at the market normally costs, so it made getting a good deal a bit harder. I suggest bringing someone who’s been to Noryangjin a few times along with you.

      Also, we went at dinner time. You can get better deals if you go during the wholesale auction in the early morning (before 6:00am) when all the restaurant owners do.

  1. hi! going back to noryangjin next month and can’t wait to try the salmon. would you remember the name and location of the restaurant by any chance? hate those traditional restaurants where you have to sit on the floor ๐Ÿ™‚ was it on the ground or 2nd floor? by the way, can read hangul in case it’s in korean. thanks!

    • Hi there! Sorry about the late reply!!

      I actually don’t remember the name of the restaurant. We went down a little alleyway, and the restaurant was definitely elevated. We sat outside on a patio-ish thing with chairs and a long table, but inside it was definitely traditional (floor) seating. I thought the Korean guy who lead us there was a friend-of-a-friend, but it turned out that everyone else thought that as well lol!! He was actually a random guy (who worked for the restaurant, no doubt). I think we got a bit ripped off, to be honest. But the way they cooked the salmon was divine.

      Good luck on your search for a good restaurant there!

  2. Thanks for the post and pictures – this is now on my to-visit list later in the year!

    Question: How were you planning on getting to the wholesale auctions, seeing as they begin well before the trains/buses start running? I’m thinking of going for the auctions (yes, ambitious) but can’t seem to figure out how to get to the market in the wee hours of the morning. Any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks!

    • Hi Stephanie!

      When I was still in Korea, I was studying/living on-campus at Chung-Ang University, which is only a couple subway stops away from Noryangjin. My friend who led the mini tour groups of our friends to the wholesale auctions tells me that they just took a taxi, which wouldn’t have been expensive as we were so close; plus they split it several ways.

      Not sure if you ever use Naver Maps, but you can figure out how much taxi fare will be on there from wherever you’re coming from. Also if you don’t read Korean, if you use Chrome there is a built-in translator that will romanize the letters for you.

      – Gabrielle

      • Ah yes of course, taxis. And yep I will certainly double check on Naver Maps!

        Also would you happen to know the latest time one should arrive to catch the auctions? I’m aware they begin at 1am, but surely your friends didn’t rock up then (or did they??) I was thinking of arriving at around 5:30am as I have read somewhere that the auctions finish up at 6:30am – would you happen to know if this is correct?

        Thanks for answering all these questions! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Hey again!

        My friend says they start wrapping up around 5:30am to 6am-ish, so it’s not really worthwhile to go then. He recommends going at around 1:30am. However, in the winter months, he says that the vendors start opening around 2:30am.

        Hope this helps!

  3. Thanks for the post and pictures โ€“ this is now on my to-visit list later in the year!

    Question: How were you planning on getting to the wholesale auctions, seeing as they begin well before the trains/buses start running? Iโ€™m thinking of going for the auctions (yes, ambitious) but canโ€™t seem to figure out how to get to the market in the wee hours of the morning. Any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks!

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