After I got back from Japan (yes, this is an extremely belated post), having experienced real sushi for the first time in my life, I was eager for more raw fish. So the day after I got back to Seoul, I met up with my friends Roger and Jason to check out a fish market. But not just any old fish market — this was the Noryangjin fish market, which you may recall seeing on Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.

Roger had been there before, but I was a fish market virgin, so I was completely taken aback by everything I saw. I saw more fish while walking down that aisle than I’ve seen at most aquariums. The rich, salty smell of ocean water was absolutely everywhere; I’m sure my clothes smelled lovely after the fish market jaunt.




After about a half hour of perusing the different vendors, we headed to Roger’s favorite guy and bought a nice, live flounder. After taking it out of the tank, the vendor, in one swift move, KILLED THE FISH IN FRONT OF MY EYES. The first time I saw it happen, earlier in the evening, I let out a little (OK, really loud) yelp. Koreans must be used to waegooks (foreigners) freaking out all the time, because nobody around me even flinched.

Anyway, after our finned friend was killed with a spike (or as the Koreans say, “spike-uh”) to the brain, the fish vendor sashimied him up. As usual, I documented the act with my less-than-stellar video skills. If nothing else, enjoy the witty banter between Jason and I.

After the camera shut off, the vendor bagged the fish and handed it off to Roger, who dutifully carried it down the aisle to a restaurant where they gave us dish upon dish of sauce and sushi accompaniment, until there was no more room on the table. Needless to say, I captured that on video as well. Oh and in case you get confused at the end, Roger is simply mocking my participation in the “25 Random Things About Me” Facebook fad. For the record: If I could eat macaroni and cheese every day for the rest of my life, I would be happy. Not a joke. Anyone who knows me can back me up on that.

All in all, the dinner was fantastic. While not as cheap as the sushi I had in Tokyo, the fish I had at Noryangjin was stellar in its own right. Bonus: Just when I thought we were finished, the waitress brought out a huge pot of soup, with the broth being made from the head and tail of our friend, Mr. Flounder.



A lot can happen in two hours: Live fish>>>dead fish>>>chopped fish>>>Melissa's stomach

A lot can happen in two hours: Live fish>>>dead fish>>>chopped fish>>>Melissa's stomach

So that is the Noryangjin fish market. Unsure if I’ll be back, especially since Roger’s stint in Korea is just about over, but I will carry the fond memories (and smell) with me for quite some time. If there is anything to be said of the Melissa of the last few months, it is that I really am developing an Anthony Bourdain-esque view of the world. When I was in Japan and on my own for an evening, I simply popped into one of the restaurants I came across and ordered something I couldn’t recognize that was labeled in a language I can’t read. And it ended up being delicious! Does that mean I’m going to eat pork? Well, probably not–very few exceptions to that. Does it mean I’m going to eat balut in the Philippines? Good lord, NO.

But life is truly about expanding horizons and stepping out of the bubble. And I think that’s something anyone can do, regardless of where he lives. I just had to move to Korea to figure that out.