Saturday, October 24, 2009

South Korea - Day 9

Sunday was our last full day in Korea. We started the day by going to Shinsegae Department Store – officially the largest department store in the world. It has 14 floors, an ice skating rink, and a driving range. Jeff and I walked through fairly quickly and it still took us more than an hour.
Around lunchtime we headed back to Gwangali Beach. Busan is supposed to be the best place in South Korea for raw sea food, and Millak Fish Market, right on the beach, is the place recommended by both the guide book and Susie.

However, it’s not your average sushi experience. The first floor of the Millak Fish Market is filled with many stalls selling live fish, squid, octopus, and other sea creatures. You buy whatever you’re interested in eating from one of the stalls, and then you bring it to the floor the person tells you to go to. Once you get there, you give it to the cooks, and they slice it up for you – instant sashimi.

Not being completely confident in our ability to choose a fish from the giant market, nor in the idea that this would all go smoothly, Jeff and I had a cup of coffee to think it over. Then, with our confidence (and caffeine) built up, we headed back to the market.

We walked around a bit and finally picked a fish that a lady at one of the booth suggested – and by suggested, I mean that she fished it out of the tank with a net, pointed to it, and said, “Sashimi?” The book also says its common to have raw baby octopus with your meal. I wasn’t really interested. The lady pulled one of the octopi out of the tank, it’s tentacles squirming, and offered it to Jeff for 5000 Won ($5), but he said no. But when she dropped the price to 3000 Won ($3), he couldn’t resist the deal.

So then we were off to take the elevator to the fifth floor, the lady from the stall helping us carry the fish and octopus that we now owned. Just as the book said, we gave it to the people at the restaurant and took a seat. The other diners in the restaurant seemed a little surprised to see tourists. Within a few minutes, our table was filled with lots of little side dishes and a platter of sashimi.

A couple minutes later came a plate of chopped up baby octopus tentacles… and they were moving… a lot. Jeff waited for them to settle a little bit, but everytime he’d move the plate or grab a piece with his chopsticks, they’d start squirming or suctioning onto the plate. Despite the difficulty, Jeff managed to eat most of what was on the plate. I tried one small piece, and that was enough for me. (Though it actually was tasty, it’s still just a bit too odd.)

After lunch, we grabbed our stuff and headed to the train station for the trip back to Seoul. We got there fairly late (around 9pm), but still had time to go walking around Myeongdong – a trendy area with shopping, food, bars, and street stalls selling all sorts of stuff.

We grabbed dinner at a barbeque place – the food was really good, but also really expensive.

We bought some street food as a snack – these potato things were great! And that was the end of our evening in Seoul!

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