One of the most shocking and perhaps controversial dishes in Korean cuisine is live octopus, or san-nakji. The dish is popular in Korea, especially in coastal towns and cities where octopus doesn’t have to take a long trip from the ocean to the plate, and Korean seafood markets often display live fish and shellfish so diners know just how fresh their ingredients are. In New York City, K-Town host Matthew Kang joins colleague and Eater NY reporter Stefanie Tuder at Sik Gaek, one of the few restaurants in town that specializes in live octopus.
Sik Gaek is unique in that it totally embraces live Korean seafood, even going so far as to add still-squirming lobster to its massive seafood hot pots. There’s a tank in front of the restaurant that showcases the small octopus swimming around before they’re prepared in the kitchen. While some diners might get a little uncomfortable at the sight of live seafood moving around on the plate or in the pot, Sik Gaek just wants to prove to their diners how fresh their product really is — just like they do in Korea.