Checking out a fish market while you're in Korea is an absolute must -- the sights and smells alone make it an interesting experience. If you're a seafood eater, it'll also be an excellent opportunity to try a wide variety of seafood dishes as you browse through the stalls. Only a few stops away from my neighborhood in Incheon is the Soraepogu Fish Market, and I highly recommend stopping by next time you're in this area.
While the larger fish markets are also great, such as Seoul's Noryangjin or Busan's Jagalchi, I like the feel of Soraepogu more. Soraepogu is right on the edge of Incheon, and yet it still hangs on to its old fishing village vibe. It's crowded, cramped, and it seems like it hasn't changed in decades. The ceilings are low, the ground is uneven and full of puddles (don't wear sandals!), and it seems like an endless maze of sights and smells.
This is the best part of the market!
The market itself is in two separate buildings. Pictured above is the older part of the market, which sits right next to the water. It definitely feels older, but that just makes it cooler. The newer building, as you can see below, looks like your standard market -- one big, brightly lit building.
The newer building.
As you walk through, you can pick out the fish, shrimp or crab or whatever else that you'd like. After picking out the item you want, the people working at the stall will prepare it for you, so that you can either take it home and cook it up, or so you can go sit down on a mat outside the market and enjoy your very fresh sashimi, which is called hoe in Korean (kinda pronounced hwe).
These guys were HUGE! Seriously gigantic.
We made our trip to the market just for lunch, deciding that we felt like seafood and a small Sunday outing. I recommend wandering through the market before settling on a spot to eat, and as you walk try and get some of the fried shrimp or octopus tentacles to munch on! Both these items are cheap yet very delicious. A lot of the vendors will offer you samples of what they sell as well, so don't be shy! I've been surprised at how delicious a lot of the bizarre-looking seafood concoctions actually are!
Our friend led us to a restaurant that he frequents, where we had some kalguksu and I finally tried the infamous sannakji, which is live, raw octopus. Other Aclipse bloggers have covered the experience well in the past. I don't have a reaction video to share with you all, but it's definitely weird and I definitely think you should try it. The bits of tentacles suckered to my cheek a couple times while I was trying to chew and needless to say it's a very odd sensation.
If you're thinking of making a trip to this market, October would be a great time to visit because one weekend around mid-October will be the annual festival held at Soraepogu. I attended this festival back in 2012 and it was a lot of fun -- street food, performances, games, and even more street food.
Directions & Information:
Hours: 9am-9pm, open every single day.
To get there: Soraepogu Station, Suin Line, exit 2.
Between studying Japanese and Asian culture in university and setting her sights on a teaching career, it came as no surprise when Zannah Smreker announced that she was moving to South Korea to teach for Chungdahm Learning. In November 2011, Zannah accepted a position through Aclipse with the Songdo branch in Incheon, just southwest of Seoul. When she's not teaching, she keeps herself busy with exploring Korea, eating all the street food, and hunting down strange Engrish shirts. Check out her blog here for more of her adventures!