You read that right, my fellow carnivores. This place is where juicy dreams are made of. Fatty, tender, perfect marbling 1++ Grade Korean Beef dreams that is. If you are someone like myself, who’s been living in Korea for a while, I’m sure you are familiar with the term 한우, or Korean beef, which in my opinion, is the Holy Grail of any type of beef I’ve ever tasted. (Now, I’m sure many of you would argue that Japanese Kobe and/or Wagyu beef is the best of the best, don’t get me wrong, they are equally as good but they are too fatty to my liking). Hanwoo, on the other hand, is regarded as the highest quality in Korea because its “high palatability and desired chewiness”. It is also believed to have the perfect balance between the strengths of wagyu and less fatty and tougher American and Australian beef. I’m sure that many of you are already salivating by now, so listen up meat lovers, on why you should definitely visit 마장 축산물시장 this Winter.
One of the main and best reasons on why you should eat Hanwoo at Majang Meat Market. As many of you may already know, Hanwoo is not necessarily cheap if you have it at one of those high end BBQ restaurants in Seoul. Quality Hanwoo goes up to approximately $40 per 100g. Sure, it might be worth it since you’re also paying for the service or what not, but let’s face it, many times you end up spending a lot for only a few portions of Hanwoo that’s not even enough to fill you up. Trust me, I’ve been there. What’s so absolutely amazing about this meat market is that not only you get to choose from a wide range of different meat vendors, you can request any parts of the beef you would like to have. Often times, the meat comes in already cut pieces that’s enough to feed 2-3 people with different cuts of the cattle so you get to taste different parts. It is also very likely that the meat vendor would throw in some “Service”, or complimentary beef parts or slices. It only costs around KRW 12,000 or USD $10 per 100g for perfectly marbled top grade Korean beef. Here’s the best part, just like any other wholesale markets in Korea, you are more than welcome to bargain.
2. Freshness + Variety
As I mentioned earlier, you are able to find all kinds of different cuts of Hanwoo at this meat market. Since it is the largest meat market in Korea, with approximately 3000 meat vendors in total with livestock getting delivered hourly from farms all over Korea, it’s no surprises that you will see meat hanging everywhere. Be prepared to see things you don’t normally see at supermarkets, such as intestines, lungs, stomach, heart and even a full cow head… So yes, this place expectedly smells like raw meat. To all the vegetarians and pescatarian out there, coming here wouldn’t be as enjoyable for you as compared to the meat lovers. Also, if you are someone who lives close to the area, it’s a great place to source your local meat products here as you are able to find quality beef as well as pork, if beef is not your thing.
I’m sure a lot of you by now are wondering where you can eat these quality cuts of Hanwoo after purchasing them. As far as I know, restaurants are usually located on the second floor of the meat vendors. I was told that there are different restaurants with different types of grills. For instance, if you are someone who enjoys grilling meat on charcoal grills, there’s a restaurant with just that. For 5000 Won per person, you get to use the grill for your meat, get 반찬, or side dishes and a self-serve salad bar just like any other Korean BBQ restaurants. You do need to pay extra though, if you wish to order alcohol and other main dishes such as noodles. It’s still a steal compared to those high end Hanwoo places if you ask me. Here’s a tip: normally butchers from the meat vendor would give their customers complimentary meat, usually a fatty cut that’s 찌개용, or “suitable for soup” and a much leaner cut that’s perfect to have raw with some sesame oil and chilli paste. When you enter the restaurant of your choice, feel free to order a 된장찌개, or Korean miso soup, and ask the ajumma to add in the fatty cuts of beef. The fatty bits give that extra flavour to the soup, warms the body and the heart right up on a cold winter night. Don’t you wish you were there this very moment? I know I do.
It would be a perfect world if some place this awesome is also easy to get to. Frankly speaking though, this meat market is not all that difficult to find in general. If you are able to type Korean, search “마장 축산물시장” on Naver Map and it would indicate the best possible way to get there. To those of you who are travelling to Seoul and/or don’t speak Korean, here’s the recommended route:
Take Subway Line 2 (The green line) to 왕십리, Wangsimni Station and get out from Exit 8; you can also walk from here, the market is approximately 15 min. away if you decide to walk
Walk approximately 2 mins to the bus stop that marks with the ID 04134 왕십리역, Wangsimni Station and take bus 2222 bound for 고대앞, or Korean University
Get off at the 3rd stop at 마장 축산물시장, Majang Meat Market.
Simple enough right? However, If you are someone who is terrible with directions, I would suggest downloading the app. “Citymapper”, it’d make your life so much easier getting around in a foreign country.
Fun Fact: Believe it or not, Majang Meat Market was one of the many locations that Big Bang’s big hit song 에라 모르겠다(FXXK it)’s music video was apparently shot at!