This was one of our favourite experiences in Seoul. Majang Meat Market is the largest meat market in South Korea, where you can find the best Hanwoo beef.
Sourced from native cattle, the Hanwoo beef’s exquisite marbling rivals the best of Wagyu.
Due to the huge local demand, Hanwoo beef is not exported (except Hong Kong) – and is often served at the best high-end K-BBQ restaurants.
[Dec 2022 Update: Majang Meat Market is listed on our Top Nine Meals of 2022 list. Click here to read the article]
Majang Meat Market in Seoul
This market is only a 10-minute walk from Majang Station on Seoul Subway Line no. 5.
With over 3,000 vendors and fresh livestock delivered on an hourly basis, Majang market is the largest meat market in South Korea.
It is estimated that 60% of all meat and meat-related products are handled here at Majang Meat Market before they are distributed in the city.
Despite its 60-year history, the market is one of the cleanest in the cities as it utilizes modern facilities.
Apart from distributing beef to top-end BBQ restaurants in Seoul, locals often come here looking for the best bargain for Hanwoo beef: which was the main reason we were here!
Majang Meat Market offers the best Hanwoo beef
We arrived here at 7 pm on a Friday evening with a mission: to hunt for the best Hanwoo beef!
So what exactly is Hanwoo beef?
With marbling that rivals the best of Wagyu, this exquisite beef is sourced from local Hanwoo cattle that are raised free-range in the countryside.
Similar to Wagyu, these cattle are fed a healthy diet of mixed grass and diet – which results in meat with beautiful marbling, beefy flavour, and a sweet taste.
However, unlike Wagyu – Hanwoo beef is rarely exported due to high local demand (with the exception of Hong Kong), hence it does not command a high level of recognition globally (when compared to the likes of Wagyu, Kobe, and Angus).
Hence, we were really excited to try this special breed of cattle – and Majang Market was high on our must-visit list for our trip.
Hanwoo – rivals the best of Wagyu
Similar to Wagyu, Hanwoo beef has its own grading system with 1++ being the highest, and comparable to Wagyu A5.
Hanwoo beef is graded into five categories: 1++, 1+, 2, and 3 – which is judged on the level of marbling (fat distribution between meat, as well as color).
However, beef connoisseurs would argue that the Hanwoo beef tends to be less fatty than Wagyu – which gives it a better balance of fat and flavour.
As an example, an A5 Wagyu ribeye would typically have 70% fat and 30% meat ratio, while a Hanwoo would have a fat-to-meat ratio of 50:50 (or 60:40).
As it would turn out, we found the Hanwoo to be more palatable as the less fatty profile results in a nice balance of buttery smoothness and beefy flavour.
Hunting for the best Hanwoo beef in Majang
Majang Meat Market is truly a spot for the locals.
Despite arriving at 7 pm, there were plenty of stalls still operating with the owners peddling the best Hanwoo beef they have on offer.
We made sure to survey all of the stalls and finally settled on Seo’s Premium Hanwoo – due to the freshness of the meat and the wonderful service of Mr. Shin.
Mr. Shin spoke great English and was helpful in recommending the best Hanwoo beef cuts for barbeque.
574g of Hanwoo goodness!
In the end, we purchased 574g of 1++ Hanwoo beef – which includes chuck flap tail, sirloin, skirt meat, and short plate.
This pack set us back KRW97,580 (USD68 or MYR320) – which we considered to be amazing value when considering the quality and quantity of the beef!
For the same price, we would only get 200g of beef at a high-end Korean BBQ restaurant.
In our research, we found that most foreign visitors opt for the short plate for the amazing buttery mouthful, but Koreans (including Mr. Shin) tend to favour sirloin and chuck flap tail for a more balanced meat-fat profile.
Mr. Shin was also kind enough to offer us free brisket.
Come for the meat, stay for the experience
Here’s what we enjoyed most about our trip to Majang market.
After purchasing our meat, we then made our way to the 3rd floor of the market, where a separate operator runs a BBQ space.
The premise is simple: for KRW6,000 (USD4) per head – we get to BBQ our beef over a charcoal fire with unlimited banchan and drink cheap soju.
This part of the market is truly a local experience, as the place was filled with boisterous locals enjoying their Friday night, and we were the only tourists there!
Some tips from Mr. Shin – cook the Short Plate over the fire and as soon as it turns brown and quickly flip it over!
Personally, we think a slight char is permissible for that lovely browning flavor!
This cut was beautiful! Thanks to its beautiful marbling, the cut was superbly tender and melted like butter in the mouth.
Sirloin is more balanced
Compared to the short plate, the Sirloin has more meat in its marbling.
We actually find this balance of meat and fat to be lovely – as it has a nice beefy taste, but the fat still renders beautifully in the mouth. We found this to be best enjoyed with just a dip of salt.
The best for last
We finally saved the best for last – which is the beautifully marbled Chuck Flap Tail.
Due to the higher mix of fat strain in between the meat, we really enjoyed this cut for a good balance of beefy sweetness and fat. Now we understood why this is Mr. Shin’s favorite cut.
Don’t forget the brisket!
Oh yes, we definitely recommend ordering Doenjang-Jjigae (KRW5,000).
Remember the free brisket we received? All we had to do was to ask the BBQ owner to cook the brisket in the stew – which was the best way to enjoy the cut (instead of cooking over charcoal fire).
We found the doenjang-jjigae to be pretty tasty and liked that they added clams as well.
Overall, this was one of the best experiences of our Seoul trip!
Apart from picking our own Hanwoo beef, we really enjoyed soaking up the experience of cooking our meat among the locals on the 3rd floor.
Also, we enjoyed Mr. Shin’s wonderful service as he even walked us to the subway station at the end of the meal.
Majang Meat Market 마장 축산물시장
Address: 4-1 Gosanjaro 24(isipsa)-gil, Seongdong-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Nearest station: Majang Station, Seoul Subway Line no. 5.
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This post is part of our Seoul trip series. Check out our archive here: