The best thing about travelling in Busan are not the attractions, not the people even though they are very friendly and animated but the food. You could say that really about any place in Korea and I wouldn’t argue but the food and the eating experience in Busan is very good and interesting from eating in the streets of Seomyeon, to eating fresh Hoe which is sashimi in Korea in the beachside restaurants that overlook Gwangli beach and the twinkling illuminated Gwangdan bridge. We’ll tell you about these eating experiences as well as three others.
Before we write about them though I’ll give you a helpful hint. Don’t do what we did when we first travelled to Korea though and ask for kimchi. They will try and tell you that they don’t serve it, you will look back at them confused, think this is Korea isn’t it and then only to be surprised when they come out with lots of small kimchi dishes and other fermented pickles and small dishes. You will find that these assortment of small dishes is Korean dining culture and are served with almost every meal.
Without further ado, I’ll tell you five food which you should eat while you are in Busan.
Gogigui (Korean BBQ)
Gogigui which is very well known around the world as Korean BBQ is not unique to Busan but when you come all the way to Korea you do as Koreans do and eat gogigui.
Gogigui actually represents to the various roasting meat. The most popular is bulgolgi, thinly sliced marinated beef which is what we ate as well as samgyeopsal, thick fatty pieces of pork belly which I personally think is much better than bulgolgi.
Gogigui restaurants either have a hot plate built into a table or a portable hot plate. The best tasting ones use charcoal over gas but you really can’t go wrong with either.
Eating Gogigui is a lot of fun especially with groups or with family and friends. What’s interesting about gogigui is how you cut the meat with large scissors into strips let it cook and then wrap the meat into a lettuce leaf while adding some condiments as well as ssamjang, a spicy paste to enhance the flavours. Gogigui also comes with vegetables so you won’t just be eating meat. I reccommend you eat it on the first night on your trip to Korea.
Gogigui is to die for and I had to write about it before I tell you about Busan dishes.
Now for some real Busan food eating at Seomyeon food street
We stayed at the Lotte Hotel in Seomyeon and to the side of it there is a street lined with food stalls again it is a great fun atmosphere with a real chance to mingle with the local Koreans who eat here.
Seomyeon food street gives you a chance to try real local food such as Pajeon, oden or Busan’s crowning jewel of food dwaeji gukbak, pork and rice soup. The white broth soup is filled with pork floating on top that has simmered slowly for hours while at the base the grains of rice sits in the broth, as well as spring onions and other vegetables but before eating don’t forget to add some chilly, salt or small salty shrimp. I loved the aromas from the soup and if ever you have caught a cold I would highly recommend you to eat this hearty broth.
Lets try Hoe Korean sashimi
Many of the Korean dishes are somewhat similar to Japanese food. I guess with both countries being in close proximity with one another the food has ventured into each other’s diet.
Busan being located on the coast makes it an easy place to try Hoe which means raw fish, sashimi is also commonly used in the Korean language. The best place to try Hoe is from the Millak raw fish centre located on the beach side suburb of Gwangalli with window views of the beach and Gwandang bridge.
The first floor is where you can buy the fish and then take it up to the restaurants on the second to tenth floor which is then cut up and the hoe is served for a small charge. You don’t need to buy a fish if you want to just go to restaurant and order.
The hoe we found was a little bit chewy compared to sashimi in Japan but was very tasty. The sashimi is extremely fresh and when we ordered octopus the tenticles were still twitching. Again a fun place to eat and a great experience.
We ate more fish at Jagalchi fish market
Jagalchi fish market is the largest fish market in South Korea and you can find any fish imaginable or nearly unimaginable. There will definitely be some fish which you never knew existed.
The market stalls are ran by the ajumma, a middle aged hard working woman who does all the tasks of the market stall as well as preparing the food. Here we ate the freshest lightly fried flounders and other fish. The fish virtually melted in your mouth as you took a bite.
Mixed fish from Jagalchi fish market
Like a lot of Asian countries there are many places to find a snack or meal to eat on the streets. These are often the best food and can be better than what you would eat at a restaurant. Busan famous local food just happens to be Dongnae pajeon. It is usually made from a batter of rice flour, glutinous rice flour, eggs, and gochujang. Soft spring onions, beef, clams, mussels, oysters, shrimp and other seafood are also added. You would say that this meal is the Korean version of a pancake which can be found on nearly any street corner,which lures you quickly to try one.
The food maybe amazing in Korea but if you are a beer drinker you might go a little thirsty or buy imported beer as the local Hite really should have added an S to the front of its label.
Whether you stay for a day or two on a stopover or visit for a week or two one thing a meal will be just around the corner.
Have you been to Busan? What did you think of the food?