I’ve been to a few of Korean markets so far, there’s a great one that I walk to near my home; Namdaemun was a great time too but last Sunday I stopped at Yeongdongpo-gu Market. I pass the self-titled subway stop for Yeongdongpo-gu Market every time I get on the train but it has taken me almost 4 months to actually check it out.
I got out of the subway and followed signs for the market to Exit 3. On the street there no sign of a market but I kept walking straight following the crowd of Koreans. At the end of the block I saw “Gate 3” and what looked like a subway entrance. Turns out its actually a subterranean market!
Down below I wandered in between an array of stores and boutiques. At first I worried that I wouldn’t find anything that suited my holiday gift ideas. It needed to be authentic Korean, lightweight so I could ship it and I didn’t want it to just sit on a shelf. Store after store displayed women’s clothing. Each one had a tailor attached to but all I could find were dresses, skirts, blouses, and just about every type of FEMALE fashion item.
I texted a coworker to check if I had unknowingly walked into a market marketed to women. She said I was just in the wrong section so I kept walking. Turning the I found a rotunda with a small snack shop and display full of trinkets. To my left was another long hallway; this time I could see stores of all kinds.
There were sock vendors, hat vendors, belt vendors, and vendors selling things I didn’t recognize. I saw a guy selling men’s slacks and another store with all the jewelry you could imagine. The corridor kept going and was packed with people. Luckily there were a few other shops interspersed. I found a phone store next to a snack shop where I could buy all the cases and phone accessories I ever dreamed of. The market kept going and I picked up a few items before realizing there’s no way I would make it through the whole thing. I just don’t have that kind of shopping stamina!
As I was heading back to the subway I noticed Lotte department store. It was a lazy Sunday; why not check it out? The first floor was littered with eateries. I wouldn’t quite call it a food court since that elicits memories of cheap greasy food back home while these were exquisite bakeries and niche restaurants. As I was strolling through my eyes became drawn towards a sushi display. There before me delicately placed on tiny plates were dozens of different types of sushi lazily rotating around the top of a bar.
I sat down and quickly realized that the color on the plate dictates how much it costs, plates can be as cheap as ₩1500 ($1.50) or as much as ₩8000 (8$) and usually had 2 pieces of sushi each. As I was deciding what to grab first a miso soup was brought over along with a pitcher of water. The waitress pointed out a wasabi reservoir and I made my own soy-wasabi mix before grabbing what looked like a crab sushi with eel on top.
It was delicious! I savored both bites before picking what looked like 2 Italian pom poms coated in buffalo sauce. After taking the first bite I think it was some kind of tuna-crab mix and was actually coated in roe (fish eggs). I couldn’t tell you much more about it other than the flavors exploded in my mouth while devouring the second.
My next choice was a bit of a dud. The green leafy wrapping instead of seaweed gave a little too much crunch and a slightly off flavor for sushi. My brother would have called the whole thing “rabbit food” and he wouldn’t be wrong about this piece. Good thing it was only ₩2500($2.50)!
My last sushi had what I think was salmon on top of a creative concoction of crab and sauces. It brought me back to the previous standard of deliciousness. As I was debating getting another plate they dropped a fruit platter on the line. This was a sign that it was time for dessert! I waited patiently, hoping no one would take it before the fresh fruit got to my seat. When it arrived I grabbed it and savored each bite of pineapple, wished there was more strawberry and wondered what the last bite was. I thought it was a type of melon but it crunched and tasted more like an apple.
What are some of your exotic food experiences? Has anyone seen a sushi bar like this back in the States?