“Hi! Hello! Sashimi? Crab? Yummy fresh!”
Evidently, the smell of foreigners is as strong to fish venders as the Noryangjin Fish Market is to us, as all of them threw out what English they knew in attempts to corral us to their stands. Some even grabbed our arms and dragged us over.
At each stand, live seafood swam and crawled in tanks. There were crabs, squid, octopus, shrimp, prawns, snapper, flounder and more in every thinkable size. I got to use my little bit of Korean to haggle the prices down, asking “how much for the little one?” and repeatedly saying “expensive.” My friends and I bought 2 crabs, several octopus, some shrimp, and a red snapper, all of which were killed right before our eyes. It was unsettling, but it doesn’t get fresher than that!
From there, restaurant workers were similarly aggressive; they took our black bags of just-dead sea creatures out of our hands and led us to their restaurant where they prepared them. They grilled the snapper, steamed the crab and shrimp, and served the octopus raw. This was the first time I’d had raw octopus. For at least half an hour after it was served to us, the tentacles still squirmed in the dish, and they suctioned to our tongues when we ate them. Definitely worth trying! Everything else was delicious, not needing any sauces because the freshness stood for itself.
Even with my broken Korean bargaining, it was an expensive meal, but well worth it! I guess Koreans know just as well as Americans that sometimes you have to pay to be fresh.