Sunday, December 13, 2015

Korea in Winter Day 6: Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market & Gangnam Nightlife

The last time Daddy visited Noryangjin was in 2013. Mummy has ventured here for a meal with her friends before. This time not only are we all going together, we've brought extended family with us. Daddy was looking forward to the visit as it was a chance to compare the species of marine life sold in winter with those observed in his earlier visit. Mummy was eager to bring us for a hearty Noryangjin meal. We must admit this is not usually a typical venue for a family with young children as many city kids are uncomfortable with the cold and wet market environment, the sight of bloody fish being prepared for sale, and the strong stench of fish that clings on to your clothes even after you leave the facility. Nevertheless, this was all wonderful to daddy, and we decided to give it a shot for a unique experience.

We opted for another late start to the day and arrived at the Noryangjin subway station around lunch time. The authority is building a new and bigger building so instead of making our way there via an overhead bridge, we found an underpass at Exit 1 that took us to the market. Along the way, vendors were selling agricultural produce and the occasional seafood.

We spotted a vendor selling some of favourite traditional pancakes and bought a couple to reminiscence the warm aromatic taste we enjoyed so much last year.

Although it was now mid-day and the busy morning wholesale activities would have long been over, there was a weekend lunchtime crowd looking for a good sashimi meal.

This vendor intrigues the kids with a squirming octopus.

The most popular raw fish here is sole or flatfish, and it is more commonly served than salmon or tuna typical of Japanese sashimi.

Although sashimi cannot get any fresher than when it was swimming in a tank a couple of minutes ago, the treat comes at a price not for the faint of heart. Many of the filleted fish are still squirming around as they are being carved up. Kids witnessed the killing of live fish and were terrified at first but they soon got used to it. 

More educational encounters with a live crab.

We didn't stick around the wet market for very long as we were getting hungry, and decided to find a table upstairs to see what was served on the menu, and what we wanted to add to it. In the end, we opted for the regular fish set meal and purchased some fresh oysters (30 for 15,000 won) from the market downstairs to add to our feast. Not all the restaurants welcome food from outside, and some require you to order from their menus only. If you have bought food from the market downstairs, head to the restaurants in the back row. The ones up in the front accept only 'full' dine-in customers.

It would be nice to have fresh lemon slices to go with this, but over here they only have chili sauce. But for 5000 won per plate, we are not complaining. 

It was a good deal for oyster lovers!

Seldom are raw fish salad, boiled mussels, grilled mackarel, raw oysters and steamed prawns not part of the main dish. We were full before the sashimi and fish stews arrived!

Finally, the best part of the meal.

The bones from the fish are turned into a rich fish broth.

The spicy version of the fish soup.

We were initially pleasantly surprised about the amount of food given to us. However, it became apparent at the end that due to some miscommunication, they had served us double the portion we ordered. Maybe it was because we had such a big crowd. Because we had already consumed most of the meal, we felt obligated to pay for it accordingly. Although the meal was wonderful and the food simply divine, it was difficult to feel satisfied due to the misunderstanding. Nevertheless, we trust that our hosts are hardworking folks who were simply doing their best to please their customers and make an honest living, and advice visitors to clarify your order and price before proceeding to enjoy the meal.

The kids had enough of the fishy aroma and waited around the exit while Daddy made a quick exploration of the market areas. Most of the market seemed similar to when Daddy visited in 2013.

A large octopus.

The rows further back do not sell live seafood, but crustaceans and fish are displayed on beds of crushed ice.

Daddy initially thought these to belong to giant scallops, but the large adductor muscles are more likely to have come from pen shells such as Atrina or Pinna species.

Sea cucumbers live and packed together in bags.

Sea Mantises were uncommon but at least one store had them on display.

Leggy models on display!

Angler fish make popular Korean dishes.

Skate sashimi is an alternative to the more common raw fish dishes.

There were some vendors at the exit selling good looking fruits such as strawberries, apples and pears. We were interested in taking some back to the hotel with us, but they insisted on offering us what seemed to be 'tourist' prices, and we decided to give it a miss.

We made it back to the hotel before sunset, and took a short nap before deciding to spend our final opportunity to explore the Gangnam nightlife before leaving Lotte Hotel World. We layered up and just five stops away we alighted in search of a restaurant opened by one of our favourite Running Man stars, Gary. When we got there, we could not find it and passersby told us that the restaurant had since closed.

View of the sunset over Lotte World from our room.

We seemed to be the only group with children strolling down this happening street.

We decided to pick an eatery that looked good, and settled on Sinra ae Polcha as it looked good from the outside and appeared to have been featured on several television programs.

However, we soon realised that it had more of a pub setting than that of a family restaurant.

We weren't exactly expecting the trance music, disco lights and laundry hanging from the ceiling. Customers were a little surprised when we appeared with a bunch of young children. But the staff were helpful and sincere in making us feel comfortable.

Not sure if the oversized menu was meant to be part of the experience, but it was difficult to use and read in low light conditions. Perhaps it was fitting for patrons between the age of 18 and 25?

We shared a bottle of Makgeolli (4000 won), which is a milder and sweeter version of the popular Korean rice wine, Soju.

We ordered the traditional lunch box (4000 won each) for the kids. Each tin had egg, seaweed, luncheon meat and seasoned rice. The staff showed us how to mash it up and mix it up...

The right way to mix it up is to close the tin and shake it up with all your might! Mummy shows us how it is done.

The adults shared spicy tofu soup over a fire. (18,000 won)

In addition, we had a large kimchi seafood pancake (pajeon) and steamed egg (7000 won) to go around. The pajeon was simply awesome, and rich with ingredients. (18,000 won)

If you are comfortable with the setting and blaring music, the food was good and the service was wonderful for the fact that we were likely the first patrons with young children they have ever had. To prevent your clothes from smelling, you can keep your jackets and bags under your seats. Each seat has a cushion lid which can be removed, allowing you to keep all your belongings in.  After the meal,we left the place wondering if we entered the wrong door on the way up and after comparing the menu board outside the building with what we have ordered, we were relieved we went to the right place after all. This would just add to the many pages of our travel adventure. If you want to visit this restaurant, come out of exit 9 of Gangnam station, turn right into the street of restaurants, walk for about 5-10 minutes and you will see the big menu board on your left. 


  1. hi, how do you get from Lotte World Hotel to Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market? journey very long?

    1. From Jamsil Station, take two stops to Sports Complex. Change to Line 9 and take all the way to Noryangjin. Come out at Exit 1 and there should be a path/overpass to the market.