Jagalchi Fish Market


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DESTINATIONS south korea busan Dining Jagalchi Fish Market

Jagalchi Fish Market

This legendary market will blow the mind of anyone who happens to have even a passing interest in seafood. The sheer variety of sea creatures sold here must be seen to be believed: apart from Korean favourites like crab and eel, there are the myriad types of fish and shellfish (try the 'kalguksu' noodles with clams, or 'bajirak'), plus essentially anything that can be extracted from the deep waters washing over Busan. One speciality that Jagalchi would be the best place to try is 'hoe' (pronounced /wɛ/), raw fish served cut in thin slithers almost like sashimi. Dip in sauce and wrap in a lettuce leaf for a flavour punch. Take a stroll around to gawk at the market's curiosities, such as the sea worm ('gaebul'), whose visual similarity to the male reproductive organ has earned it the apt nickname of 'penis fish'. Then, select the seafood that tickles your fancy and have it be cooked right then and there by one of the shops inside the market, many of which have a seating area in the second floor. Get all your seafood from a single vendor if you can, then proceed upstairs to be served your selection accompanied by sauces and side dishes (a few of the latter can be on the house if you're in luck). Mind that a cooking charge applies, and the price for side dishes is listed per person. Given the upsurge in tourist numbers, prices at Jagalchi have reportedly gone up in recent years, leaving it for travellers who aren't exactly on a budget. Do not despair: most of what you see at the market is most likely served at nearly any seafood restaurant in town.


A substantial acquaintance with Busan's culinary offerings can easily take a few weeks, but if you only have a handful of days, try and work in a meal at the Jagalchi Fish Market, a traditional Korean barbecue session, and a snack on street food: fishcake ("eomuk" or "odeng") is a popular choice that holds somewhat of a cult status in Busan, and is followed closely by "hotteok", a stuffed fried pancake sold at multiple stalls across town. If you're feeling especially adventurous, try "sannakji": an octopus dish immortalised by the movie "Oldboy", which consists of chopped up tentacles that still squirm and stick to the plate (and possibly even the insides of your mouth) as you eat them.