Back when I was a regular visitor to North Korea mu favorite place within the country was Rason and this was for many reasons, BUT the Street Food Rason scene was certainly a huge contributing factor.
What the Rason?
Rason technically the only visa free part of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (North Korea), as well as the main Special Economic Zone of the country.
Does this make it he Hong Kong of North Korea? Well not quite, but it does make it very unique compared to the rest of the country and thus this affects its food.
Rason itself as special economic zone means that they get to “experiment” with capitalism, meaning more joint-venture or private restaurants, a bigger Russian and Chinese influence and some amazing private markets – which we will get to in a bit….
It also means that Street Food North Korea and Street Food Rason are very same same, but different.
Rason Private Market
Central to any tour to Rason are two things, a visit to Golden Triangle Bank, where one can purchase North Korean Won and then spend it, primarily at the main private market.
Now while a private market might not sound all the impressive in North Korea they are due to the fact that in most of the country they do not officially exist, or at least foreigners cannot go to them. In Rason the market exists to an official degree and foreigners may visit.
And this is where you get a go at the street food Rason scene. Here people sell homemade drinks which literally cost a few cents, as well as classic Korean snacks, again that cost quite literally pennies. I have honestly never found anywhere as cheap for food and goods as the market in Rason.
Can you buy weed here?
And this is where the weed being legal in North Korea hoax came from and I know that because I was there with the journalist. What you can actually buy is hemp tobacco, which has no TCP.
This means that no matter how much you smoke you will not get high. I know this because I tried this…….
Sadly the truth is rarely as amusing as the fiction when it comes to everything that goes on in North Korea.
Street Food Bason – The Seafood
And thus the reason why I say that Rasin has the best street food in North Korea, because o the seafood market. Fishermen go out everyday and fetch crabs, mind grabs, huge octopus and well preset such every seafood that you can imagine, even down to raw sea urchin.
You then do what god intended and buy the seafood. Again this is the cheapest I have found anything of even vaguely similar quality anywhere in the world, it is simply unreal. And you will not be alone, with there being lots of Chinese day traders here also, buying fish that will be taken back to mainland Chin and sold at a huge profit.
How though does one then go about eating the seafood of Rasin? Well you bag it up and then head to a restaurant – pay a corkage fee of sorts and then they cook up a storm for you, with extras such as kimchi and rice to add to the feast.
And this is why I love the seafood of Rason and the street food of Rasin sod much, not only is it epic in taste and quality, but it is the cheapest best value bag for my buck I have ever managed to find – and I been a lot of places…..
And in the vexing? You head to the main square in Rajin for beer, bbq and of course karaoke.