As South Korea’s largest port city, it’s no wonder Busan is famous for its fresh, finger-licking good seafood. Whether it’s crab, eel or shells you’re after, you won’t have to look far. Why? Busan is home to some of the most celebrated seafood markets in Korea. Here are a few markets that will have you eating like a local:
Jagalchi is renowned for selling nearly every edible creature under the sea and is a prominent fish market in Busan. It is housed in a multi-level building near Nampo Port and boasts a vast variety of seafood, with eel and crab being the local palate pleaser. You shouldn’t have trouble finding the market as long as you follow the scent. That being said, the odor is not for the faint of heart, but the delicious food makes the trek worthwhile. The fish is brought in daily at 4 am, where the over-night and early morning fishermen unload their goods onto the dock, preparing for the 6 am opening time. On the first floor, you will find squirming sea dwellers, still alive in their tank and ripe for the picking. Here you can choose your meal and take it to the second floor for cooking. At the restaurant upstairs, you will need to pay a fee for cooking services and a table fee (for side dishes, etc.) The cooking fee for one kilogram of crab was around 10,000won and the table fee is 5,000won a person. This may vary and is something to keep in mind when shopping for your seafood. If you’re in Busan this is worth a visit, even if it’s just for the pictures!
With a row of nearly 300 raw fish restaurants, Millak Raw Fish Town serves up some of the best raw fish in Busan with affordable prices to match. Alongside Jagalchi Fish Market, Millak Fish Town is regarded as a “premier” fish market in Busan. Situated in Gwangalli, it is easy to find and a perfect lunch spot before exploring Gwangalli Beach. At Millak Fish Town, you can also select your live seafood, and have it prepared on-site at one of the many restaurants. The market is positioned on the first floor of the 10-story building, the remaining floors being restaurants. The 10th floor has remarkable views of Gwangalli Beach; however, the placement of your restaurant depends solely on which vendors you buy from. Similar to Jagalchi Fish Market, there is a table fee at around 5,000won for side dishes, etc. If you are looking for sashimi-style fish, Millak Raw Fish Town is the spot to go. It opens at 10 am, so there’s no need to wake up early to beat the crowds!
Located on the outskirts of Busan, Gijang is gaining traction as a hotspot for its seafood, cozy cafes and friendly locals. It’s not far from Haeundae Beach and only requires a 25-minute taxi ride or a 40-minute bus ride, which is a small price to pay for fresh seafood and amazing views. Gijang Fish Market is also approximately 20 minutes from the Haedong Yonggung Temple, which is a beautiful seaside temple worth seeing. Sound like the perfect day trip? You’re right, it is! Gijang Crab Market’s main draw is, you guessed it, crab! Here you can find crabs with bodies as big as your head and the prices are said to be much lower than other popular fish markets. After you’ve picked out your crab, make you sure you order the fried rice that is served in the crab’s body! Similar to previous markets, you can choose your fresh seafood and eat it on the spot. The Gijang Market dates back to 1944 and its snow crabs and sea eels are traded nationwide.
Cheongsapo Seafood Town resides where the east and southern coasts intersect, at Cheongsapo Port. The union of hot and cool currents at Cheongsapo Port makes it a fisherman’s playground for catching abundant seafood. The seafood town also goes by the name of “Cheongsapo Grilled Clams Village” indicating its specialty, clams. Cheongsapo is visited for its plethora of seafood restaurants, lining the port. It is located between Haeundae and Songjeong, making it easily accessible from Busan. It’s recommended to take a 12-minute taxi to reach the town. Besides the seafood, Cheongsapo hosts a few other attractions including rooftop cafes and the Cheongsapo Daritdol Skywalk, where you can walk 20 meters above the water on a semi-transparent walkway, which extends 72 meters over the ocean. There are many delicious restaurants here to try to fresh clams and other seafood. However, Cheongsapo Suminine is a restaurant renowned for its grilled eel and scallops. It’s approximately 20,000 won for a large serving of scallops, not a bad deal!
If you’re in Busan and looking for seafood, these four markets are a good place to start. These markets will give you a peek into Korea’s fishing industry and depending on your background, shock you with some pretty unusual sea creatures. Whether you’re brave enough to eat them or not is up to you!