Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale | Lessons from the Fish Market

The Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market is huge. More commonly referred to as the Noryangjin Fish Market, it boasts to be the largest food consumption site in Korea. I love this place so much that I visited 6 times over our 7-day trip. Because what is cholesterol, right?

Today, there are two sections to the market. One side is the historic old market, while the other side hosts a new building built under its modernisation project. Whichever you first take step into, it is surely seafood heaven.

Noryangjin fish market
noryangjin fish market seafood selection
old noryangjin fish market

At the Noryangjin Fish Market, there are plenty of the favourite lobsters, crabs, and prawns. Many kinds of shellfish are also available and it was fun to try the different varieties. Venturing further into the unknown, there are sea pineapples and sea intestines. The sea pineapple is at least still cute, but the sea intestines are one of the weirdest looking foods I have seen (Search for “Urechis unicinctus” on Google, you must). I couldn’t even tell if they were fish, plant, or worm.

seafood selection at noryangjin fish market, fresh seafood in seoul
sashimi noryangjin fish market
fresh clams at noryangjin fish market
sea pineapple at noryangjin fish market

That’s the Sea Pineapple!

What are prices like at the Noryangjin Fish Market?

Seafood here is probably always cheaper than that in Singapore, but even then, some days are better than others. Prices fluctuate with demand and supply, and we visited at a time when the Chinese (largest group of tourists by nationality) shunned South Korea due to the THAAD missile row. It was obvious that the stall owners were very hungry for business.

Many stalls have Chinese-speaking workers. In addition, there are plenty of Chinese-speaking middle men working for the restaurants who will be happy to help with your purchases. Thus, buying seafood at Noryangjin will be a breeze for many Singaporeans. Still, take your time because there is so much to see and even more prices to haggle.

After you are done with your purchases, you will be referred to a restaurant. Generally, you can have your food served sashimi, steamed, boiled, BBQ-ed or stir fried. Cooking is pretty basic. While the preparation is nothing spectacular, my meals at Noryangjin were nonetheless enjoyable.

king crab at noryangjin fish market

What's good to order here?

cockles at noryangjin fish market

Throughout our trip, we kept repeating orders of these cockles. They taste so good. There are varied sizes, we got some monstrous once but those are difficult to eat. These were bite-sized, and this size is perfect. Sinking your teeth into their plump flesh, the rich juices just burst out.

spoon worm sashimi at noryangjin fish market

Sea Intestines Sashimi

sea pineapple sashimi at noryangjin fish market

Sea Pineapple Sashimi

sea urchin sashimi at noryangjin fish market

The stallholders shared that Sea Urchin isn’t as big a thing in Korea as it is in Japan. Maybe that’s why these were so well priced (although that could also be because those served here weren’t as delicious). For some really really good sea urchin, I highly recommend the luscious sea urchin cold soba at Mimi Myeonga in Gangnam.

For many restaurants at Noryangjin, sashimi items are served without that additional service fee. However, because preparing sea urchin is a hassle, they may charge for these.

clams at noryangjin fish market

Stir fried bamboo clams. On top of the king crabs and lobsters which are the typical tourist “must orders” at Noryangjin, these bamboo clams are similarly something you must absolutely get. They can be stir fried in a spicy Korean sauce, or in a non-spicy version with vegetables. Both are absolutely delicious. The table next to us saw us eating these and immediately went to order some for themselves!

steamed lobster and crabs at noryangjin fish market

Steamed Lobster and Flower Crabs

Flower crab roe at Noryangjin Fish Market

Beautiful, aren’t they? Flower crabs are so misunderstood. Many people think of them as the inferior cousin of the King Crab and Mud Crab, but these tasted so sweet.

lobster sashimi at noryangjin fish market

Over our trip, we got to try the different cooking styles for lobsters. Here, it is shown with its body served sashimi while its head was steamed.

lobster roe and tomalley at Noryangjin fish market

Look at that roe and tomalley, I enjoyed these even more than the lobster meat.

sea cucumber sashimi at Noryangjin fish market

Sea Cucumber Sashimi

Unexpected takeaways from the fish market

I had a tough time deciding whether this post was to be under the category of “food”, or “experiences”. After thorough thought, I believe a visit to Noryangjin is not just about the food, but is only complete with the browsing, engaging, and lots of haggling. I didn’t just leave with happy taste buds, but I gained 3 important lessons from the fish sellers here – the kind of stuff you learn at business school. Let me end my post with these.

  1. Big Bait. Lure you in with cheap lobsters or king crabs. Then add a bit more to the prices of all the other items you’ll proceed to buy from them.
  2. Build Rapport, Find a Connection. Workers who spoke mandarin would reiterate that we’re both Chinese, and that we are all family in this foreign land. They say they will not join the Korean stall-owners to rip off our tourist money, they say our prices are already very cheap!! The way they put it sounded so assuring.
  3. The Pity Trick. This pits your compassion against your cheapskate attitude. We were in full on haggling mode, then the lady went “ohh I bought this at 47,000 won per kilo, please at least let me sell it at 52,000 won. T.T”. And it worked, because I promptly said “all right”. For all I know, she could’ve bought the entire thing for 30,000 won.