lobster roe and tomalley at Noryangjin fish market

Noryangjin Fish Market | Key takeaways from buying seafood

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.

Mingles, Seoul | Fine Dining with a Korean Twist

Mingles, Seoul

It was our first day in Seoul. It is a bad idea to schedule a big meal on the night you arrive, especially if there is a time difference. Even more so if you came on an overnight flight... but that is exactly what I did. I have regretted this so many times, but gosh – I still never learn.

Mingles was my first foray into fine Korean cuisine and I brought with me little knowledge beyond the KBBQs and Bibimbabs (which I love). Even though I had little idea on what to expect, reading about the accolades of Chef Mingoo already set the highest expectations.

The dining room at Mingles is filled with dramatic lighting that accentuates the black and wooden interiors. When I visited, above the beautiful counter was a spread of cotton plants. Their light and fluffy characteristic brought a unique charm.

In the Chef’s own words, Mingles’s philosophy is “Mingling contrasting elements into harmony”. That is cute play on his name. While that phrase was initially puzzling, opening their menu made its meaning immediately apparent. Chef Mingoo injected Korean elements, infusing their traditional pastes and fermentation techniques with western ideas. Over the meal, we were also treated to plenty of locally-sourced ingredients (think beef from Gang Won, fish from Jeju, as well as 101 kinds of Korean chilli peppers).

Spring – Abalone Porridge with Korean Green Pepper. Kombu Cha, with Strawberry and Eel. Fermented Vinegar.

First to arrive was a shot of vinegar, infused with rosemary and fermented for several days. This brought an exciting punch, well whetting my appetite. Fantastic, because that got the tired me all ready for the big meal.

We came to Seoul for the Cherry Blossoms, which meant the start of beautiful spring. The abalone porridge is a “spring special” that celebrates this season. This was flavourful, thick, and smooth – just the way I like it. While the abalone is the star, the use of chilli peppers in this dish was equally prominent.

I love how the chef injects these little ideas that assertively claims “No, this is not Chinese Porridge. This is not Cantonese Porridge”. He deliciously reminds us that we are in Korea, and as we will see throughout the meal, respectfully pays homage to their culinary heritage.

Seasonality – Halibut Carpaccio, Pickled Vegetables, and Shiso, on Tomato Jelly.

Spring Clam – Fermented Fish Egg, Radish, Clam Ceviche with Makgeolli Sauce.

Rainbow Dubu – 두부 (Korean Tofu) wrapped in root vegetables. This was presented as intricate folds of rainbow. Subsequently, a thick brown stock of carrots and mushrooms was poured over. The chef was inspired by temple cuisine, and in using simple austere ingredients, he brought about harmony and balance. Dipping the side of Makgeolli Rice Cake with Carrot core into this rich stock was especially perfumed.

Makgeolli Rice Cake, with carrot core.

Spring Eggs – Spring Herbs Egg Custard with Chorizo. Deep Fried Spinach with Ricotta Cheese (background). Very very tasty, one of the best egg custards I have had. I was lucky to have 2 of these, since my mother doesn’t eat eggs that are not fully cooked.

Equally good were the deep-fried spinach with cheese, encased within the crisp wanton skin. This was deceptively simple but criminally delicious – each plump pocket was flavourful and oozing with creamy ricotta.

Conger Eel – Lightly Fried Conger Eel and Anchovy from Jeju, seaweed “Bu Gak”. The team at Mingles fry really really well. We learnt that they use a traditional technique of sticky rice batter “glue”, where the paste was applied on the surface, then dried and subsequently fried. The result was a light, crispy coating that gives a delightful crunch. The yuzu zest brings an added dimension to the sweet and sour sauce pairing.

Mingles Style Seasonal Fish – Red tile fish in Korean Pepper Oil. Broth of fish, seasonal clams and Korean herbs. As expected, the fish was tender and its flavours robust. Unfortunately, the Korean Pepper Oil just doesn’t work for me.

Palete Cleanser – Red wine vinegar

Roasted duck and seasonal vegetables, sourced from a local farm.

Charred lamb, “Doen-jang” vegetable ash, seasonal vegetables.

Gang Won Beef from Eastern Korea. Truffle “Jang” Sauce, Seasonal Vegetables. There were 3 main courses to choose from and our family of 3 just went with one of each. Having tried them all, definitely go for the beef. It was perfect– the decadent slices were a true indulgence. They simply melt in your mouth and go amazingly with the truffle jang.

The main dishes were delicious, but at the same time fun and innovative. Dessert time was equally creative.

As the mains came to an end, we were presented this peculiar set of flasks. There was a choice of Jerusalem Artichoke, Mulberry Leaves, Buckwheat, and Coffee. We went with the first 3, to have them brewed as accompaniment to our sweets.

Doraji – Doraji (balloon flower root) sorbet, Korean traditional cinnamon snack, Rice ice cream, Ginger compote.

Jang Trio – “Doen-jang” crème brulee, “Gan-jang” pecan, “Gochu-jang” blackrice, Vanilla ice cream, Whisky foam. Chef Mingoo takes soybean paste, soy sauce, and red chilli paste, integrating their salted, spicy flavours into a dessert item. The flavours go really well, and together they bring a lovely marriage of silky, crunchy, and velvety textures. As much as these seasonings are iconic of Korean cuisine, I would say this dessert is iconic of his restaurant.

Spring Cheese – Brie Cheese Mousse, “Deodeok” compote, Makgeolli Sorbet. This was both sweet and savoury. It is no contradiction, but a harmonious pairing that works. Any cheese lover will go head over heels.

Tea, Fritz, & Sweet – Lemon puff, Jelly. Korean Traditional Cookie. Pumpkin Paste with Pine Nut. Red Bean Paste with Rice Cake Centre.

Ahhh, Korean food is so much more than KBBQ and Bibimbab. This meal wasn’t merely a simple enjoyment; it was an education on Korean cuisine.

The dedicated team at Mingles are real food nerds. They know everything about every dish, and they passionately explained them one by one.

Mingles, Seoul

레스토랑 밍글스
서울특별시 강남구 논현동 94-9 더 채플 웨딩홀 1층
Gangnam-gu, Nonhyun-dong 94-9, 1st floor, Seoul, South Korea

(+82) 2-515-7306