One of Lonely Planet’s top things to do in Busan is the Jagalchi fish market so, being lovers of both fish and markets, we knew we had to take Oli’s parents there during our Busan weekender. We had such a great afternoon here, ambling around, gawking, taking hundreds of photos and eating a delicious late lunch of the freshest fish money could buy.
I definitely agree that this is a Busan must see, so let us walk you through Korea’s largest open air fish market.
It’s not your usual ‘everything on ice’ affair, but rather an avenue of wriggling squids, fish, octopi, turtles and even, sadly, a shark or two. In fact, just about anything you might want to find, from the big and scary, to the small and strange is for sale there.
Our amble through Jagalchi began on crab street. Now these certainly aren’t the typical crustaceans you’d find rock pooling in England, but are more akin to the stuff of nightmares. With bodies the size of my head and legs that could engulf a small animal, these creatures were pretty terrifying- especially when shoved ‘persuasively’ in your face by heavily made up crab-vendors! If like us, you aren’t quite ready for a full on crab feast continue strolling into the mayhem.
First came the copious amounts of mackerel, a cheap and delicious staple in a lot of Korea’s cuisine, and then the mountains of squid. Unlike the squid we saw dried and hanging decoratively along the East coast, these were live in tanks or freshly killed and chilling on ice. There were little ones, medium sized ones and a few that were definitely closer to the cracken than any other creature I’ve ever seen. Squid is quickly becoming almost a symbol of Korea for us…
There were also boxes of anchovies, tanks full of fish, shell fish and sea cucumbers, and, what no Asian market is without, creatures being skinned alive. In Vietnam it was frogs, here it was eels. Be careful where you cast your eye in Jagalchi! These poor things were skinned and chopped up whilst very much alive- you can’t get much fresher than that. Ruth summed it up pretty nicely when I said ‘It’s kind of enchanting’ and she replied ‘in a very, very raw way’.
But if it all gets a bit much, take the alley out to towards the sea and you can spend a while gazing at the boats coming in. It is a lively port which entices many an Ajussi for an afternoons boat watch.
When we were finally feeling peckish we went for a plate of fried sole and yellow snapper for lunch. It was delicious! We didn’t catch the name of the restaurant, but if you follow your nose and stomach I have a feeling every one of the market restaurants is probably great.
Jagalchi fish market makes for a brilliant lunch spot where you can easily while away an afternoon. I know we’ll be heading here again next time we’re in Daegu!
What interesting food markets have you seen around the world? Let us know your inner most thoughts!
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