A Rainy Night at Jagalchi Market (자갈치시장) & BIFF Square Street Food Market

As the largest seaport in South Korea, Busan is a seafood haven. Although I’m allergic to seafood, it feels weird to skip Jagalchi Market (자갈치시장) – the largest seafood market in the country, which is famous for its incredible variety of fresh seafood sold at reasonable prices. It is similar to going to Bali without checking out its pristine beaches. So even if I can’t have a great seafood feast at this well-known market, this place is definitely on my itinerary. Just the thought of being able to take in the sight & smell of all these fresh delicacies also makes a worthwhile trip! 😛

The heavy rain had been following me since late morning in Gyeongju-si that day, & it continued into the night. But it didn’t deter me from taking a train from Choryang Station to Jagalchi Station (자갈치역) on Busan Subway Line 1 to visit the renowned seafood market. Going to the market was easy. At Jagalchi Station, look for exit 10, the nearest exit to the market. Upon reaching the street level, just walk ahead for about 1 min, then turn right when you see NH Bank (농혐은행) on your right. The market is just about 5 min walk (300m) away.

You will be able to see "자갈치시장" in a few places like in above photo

You will be able to see the words “자갈치시장” in a few places like in above photo

Jagalchi Market 2

Pardon my dark & somewhat blur photos, blame it on the bad weather that day… 😦 Because it was around 8pm when I arrived, the market wasn’t crowded & many stalls had closed for the day (although official opening hours say it opens from 5am to 10pm daily, except the 1st & 3rd Tuesday every month). After browsing the long row of restaurants that were still open, I decided on this particular restaurant you see in the photo below, because it displayed the price of its dishes explicitly while many others didn’t.

Jagalchi Market 3

I’m kinda a dummy when it comes to seafood prices, since I can’t really take seafood. Thus I was very cautious about entering any seafood restaurant for fear of being ripped off. At least this restaurant didn’t look dubious, & the live seafood displayed at its entrance looked really fresh. So it became my dinner place that night, & I didn’t regret my decision!

The grilled fish set meal I had was value for money at KRW 7,000 (S$8.40). As you can see, it was a big piece of grilled fish with several side dishes (반찬) & a slightly spicy soup. The fish was very tasty & I finished up everything within half an hour. 😛 No wonder there was a signboard indicating KBS TV program recommendations!

After a satisfying meal, the rain finally stopped for a while, so I left the market to visit another night market at BIFF Square (Busan International Film Festival Square, 부산광장). Frankly, I had not intended to visit BIFF Square, instead I had originally wanted to go to the 110m-long Bupyeong (Kkangtong) Night Market (부평시장). Although both are located near Jagalchi Station exit 7, Bupyeong Night Market is slightly further than the former. So I made a mistake & stopped by BIFF Square when I saw so many stalls selling street food & reading tarots hehe. Anyway, I didn’t regret this mistake because it was quite an interesting place to check out too.

BIFF Night MarketIf not for the rain that came on & off, I believe this place would be bustling with more people. There were many shops & cinemas in the area, with lines of stalls selling street snacks, coffee & even tarot-reading services. I didn’t really read up on this place prior to the trip, so it was somewhat a pleasant find.

Best part of the accidental find? It has to be the discovery of the popular street snack in Busan – the Ssiat Hotteok (씨앗호떡)! Hotteok (호떡) is the Korean style sweet pancake with brown sugar filling inside, which you can find easily in the streets of South Korea. However, Ssiat Hotteok is a unique Busan street snack, filled with a variety of healthy seeds (씨앗 means seeds) for the crunchy taste.

I discovered these 2 Ssiat Hotteok stalls located next to each other, just down the street from the BIFF Square yellow signboard in the top right hand side of the collage above. After trying the first one, I decided to buy one from the other stall so as to compare, & also because I love this snack. Much prefer it to the super-sweet version that I had eaten in Seoul before. 😉

아저씨 씨악호떡

Ahjussi Ssiat Hotteok (아저씨 씨앗호떡)

This was the 1st stall where I had my 1st bite of the original Ssiat Hotteok (KRW1,200 / S$1.40). You will see this 1st if you are coming from the direction of the yellow signboard. From its signboard, I saw that they put in 7 types of seeds into the pancake, wow! But I couldn’t tell what were the 7 types of seeds after finishing the yummy & crunchy pancake, except the peanuts, sesame seeds & sunflower seeds. 😛

Seunggi Ssiat Hotteok (승기 찹쌀씨앗호떡)

Seunggi Ssiat Hotteok (승기 씨앗호떡)

I took a “short break” after eating my 1st Ssiat Hotteok to wander around, before deciding to lay my hands on another piece of the delectable snack at the stall next door – Seunggi Ssiat Hotteok (승기 씨앗호떡). This also costed KRW1,200 (S$1.40) for the original version. This stall is named after Lee Seunggi (이승기) who made this Busan snack famous, after he was seen eating it in a popular KBS TV program called 2 Days 1 Night (1박2일) in Nov 2011. I may not be a fan of Lee Seunggi, but I really love this pancake (& I can hear my stomach growling as I recall the taste while writing now haha)! It is not as sweet as Ahjussi Ssiat Hotteok, but was more flavourful & crunchier than Ahjussi’s.

Taste aside, I found the stall assistants here friendlier than at Ahjussi too. Although both stalls would ask you to pay upfront before you could lay your hands on the delicacy, I thought Ahjussi’s assistant sounded more demanding whereas Seunggi’s assistant was gentle & polite. Nonetheless, the snacks at both stalls are worth trying, & even the lengths of both queues were comparable too. I definitely want to return to BIFF next time for more 맛있는 씨앗호떡! ^^

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