*Note: in this post, I will be writing about my experience at the famous Jagalchi Fish Market and it features some slightly graphic paragraphs about consuming extremely, err, “fresh” seafood. You have been warned.
On Saturday, Steve and I had plans to spend the weekend in Busan. After staying out all night, it was a struggle to get going, but we made it on the bus to Nopodong terminal around 1 PM. The ride was roughly 45 minutes and the bus we got had very comfy seats. It had already started raining by the time we got there, and we ran around trying to find the subway.
From Nopodong, we made our way to the Jagalchi station. Our plan was to spend Saturday seeing all the outdoor markets. Even though it was raining, we decided to push through. We first decided to find a motel. After being turned away from two due to no vacancies, Steve and I happened to come across a little guest house. What the heck. We walked up to the fifth floor.
We were able to get a room… with twin bunk beds. However, there was a nice view, the bathrooms were clean, and there was free breakfast in the morning. It was acceptable. After dropping off our bags, we walked to the famous Jagalchi Fish Market – the biggest in Korea.
As soon as we walked through the door, we were greeted by countless stalls with people selling their fish. Big fish. Little fish. Octopus. Squid. Clams. Mussels. Conch. You name it, it was at Jagalchi. Water spilled over the brim of the tanks and onto the floor. From the rear of the market, there was an amazing view of the bay. Too bad the skies were dark and rainy that day.
Jagalchi Fish Market
Like typical tourists, we “ooed and ahhd” as we walked by each stall. After making our way around the first floor, we walked upstairs. This is where it got good. The entire second floor is made up of mini restaurants selling the freshest fish. (You know it’s fresh because you are literally watching people kill it left and right.) It was overwhelming. After looking at about several menus, we picked one restaurant and ordered the seafood stew.
We were not ready for what came to our table. First off, the banchan were plentiful: sweet potatoes, edamame, pumpkin, kimchi, and a variety of other spicy things. Then, the stew came. The pot was massive and filled with bubbling broth, shrimp as big as the palm of my hand, clams, mussels, oysters, and… a live octopus. Yes, that’s right. There was an octopus actually squirming around in our lunch.
Our seafood stew.
Some of our banchan.
At first, I was completely and utterly disgusted. Steve was trying to poke it with chopsticks. Then, we just let it cook. The shrimp also had heads. I usually don’t eat foods that come with faces or are still breathing when they get to my plate, but I made an exception. We sat patiently and let everything cook. The broth soon turned a deep red and eventually, there was nothing left moving.
I tore into the shrimp with my fingers, carefully removing the bits that I didn’t want to consume. I sipped spoonfuls of spicy broth and scooped out tender mussels. We decided to cut the octopus’s legs off and stick its head in a bowl. Steve still wanted to cut it open, though, but when it started oozing with purple stuff, he didn’t want to so much anymore.
Following lunch, we made our way back into the rain. It had only gotten heavier. We walked around for a bit, ultimately seeking refuge in a nearby mall. It was enormous, each floor more extravagant than the next. We probably spent and hour there before heading back to the guest house for a nap.
We woke up at 9:30 PM and had to do something. It was still raining, but we braved it and headed over to the Bupyeong Night Market. There were so many street food stalls, we didn’t know what to eat first. We got mandu (dumplings). We ate them under the awning of some shop and decided we liked them enough to go back for seconds. The little old lady was very happy to see us again and I’m pretty sure she threw in a few extra. After, we got hotteok (a cinnamon and nut-filled pancake).
The rain was so bad that we could feel it seeping through our jackets (and my purse). We went back to the guesthouse and called it a night.