The coastal city of Busan, South Korea has a thriving culinary scene, which boasts world-class gastronomy, as well as delicious local food. Here are 10 of the city’s must-try restaurants characterized by Busan’s distinctive tastes.
Ciné de Chef
Centum City in Haeundae is a gleaming, urban paradise where you will find the Busan Museum of Art and the BEXCO Convention Center. It is home to the Shinsegae Department Store, officially the world’s largest department store according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Located on the fifth floor of this gargantuan consumer palace, Ciné de Chef is a stylish establishment that offers a luxurious experience of fine dining and film that’s hard to find outside of South Korea. The restaurant is chic and comfortable, serving gourmet French and Italian cuisine of the highest quality. Dishes include pasta, succulent steaks and beef tenderloin. After dinner, you can catch the latest films in the most comfortable surroundings – big lounge chairs with side tables for drinks and snacks. For special occasions, this is a special treat that is worth the expense.
Ciné de Chef, CVG Centum City, 1495, U-dong, Haeundae-gu, Busan, South Korea, +82 51 745 2880~1
Sharky’s Bar and Grill
If you’re looking for some hearty beachside grub, then Sharky’s Bar and Grill is the place to go. Served here is good old tasty American comfort food, cooked with the freshest, quality ingredients and a huge dollop of Cali-soul. Californian brothers Mike and Rick Schneider have done a wonderful job in bringing an authentic slice of San Diego to South Korea. It’s a good fit for this laid-back beach city. Taking inspiration from a San Diego bar called Sharky’s, the brothers’ small business has captured the hearts of locals and expats in the area, helped by a great atmosphere and super friendly service. Not only that, the food is filling and lovingly prepared, with their award-winning Big Boy Burgers, Mexican fare and prime cuts of steak on offer, as well as a wide selection of draft beers. Sharky’s now has three venues, each with a distinctive character and atmosphere – so choose wisely. The original bar is located close to Haeundae Beach, in the Pale de Cz building. It’s a comfortable, cozy neighborhood local with live music on Friday nights. The second location, on Gwanganlli Beach, is the largest and has a cool party vibe at the weekends. It also has a beautiful view of the Gwangan Bridge, and a custom-built shuffleboard. Finally, Sharky’s newest bar, opened early in 2014, is on the Haeundae Strip. It has a bar on the second floor and a restaurant on the third.
Sharky’s Bar and Grill, Haeundae Beach, Pale De Cz Condo 2nd Floor, 1124-2, Jung-Dong, Haeundae-gu, Busan, South Korea, +82 10 4038 2907
Pulled Pork Burger | ©Jerry Huddleston/Flickr
Brasserie, Restaurant, French, $$$
Busan’s Dalmaji Hill is a wonderful cultural hotspot, known as the city’s answer to Montmartre for its cluster of art galleries and upmarket cafes. Fittingly, you’ll also find Busan’s best French restaurant here. Merciel offers an authentic taste of France, with a fine dining restaurant on the lower floor and a brasserie upstairs. Head Chef Hwa-Young Yoon has 12 years of experience working at Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris. Combining this expertise with his own gastronomic magic, he presents a fusion of Korean and European cuisine. For example, he has created Korean-French-style beef tenderloin steak, spicy lobster tail in black rice risotto and cauliflower, and crispy salmon gravlax with mild curry, coconut cream and herb salad. The restaurant’s name is a combination of the French words mer and ciel, ‘sea’ and ‘sky’, and indeed, the brasserie is the best place to make the most of the magnificent mountainside view of the sea.
Merciel, 154 Dalmaji-gil, 65 beon-gil, Haeundaue-gu, Busan, South Korea, +82 51 747 9845, +82 51 747 9846
Sunset on Dalmaji Hill | ©Anna L Martin/Flickr
Situated inside the Novotel Busan Ambassador hotel, Ventanas is a gourmet grill and seafood restaurant, which some claim serves the best steaks in town. It also features a wonderful sea view overlooking Haeundae Beach, which is the largest beach in South Korea and one of Busan’s most attractive spots. The restaurant’s subtle yet modern decor and romantic mood lighting make for a wonderful ambience. The set menus offer the freshest seafood, and top quality beef and lamb sourced from Australia. The culinary experience would be incomplete without the good quality wine to go with it, and Ventana’s does not disappoint. In fact, its extensive wine list is probably the best in Busan. The restaurant’s Sunday brunch is also a winner.
Ventanas, 4th floor, Hotel Novotel Busan Ambassador, 1405-16, Joong-dong, Haeundae-gu, Busan, South Korea, +82 51 662 6480
Freshly caught seafood | ©sofia dench/Flickr
Hidden away under a mountain in Busan, Yong Ggum is the strangest and hippest venue in the city. Though the name translates as ‘dragon dream’, the restaurant is also known as The Cave Bar as it’s housed in an old World War II bomb shelter, carved into the side of the hill. This makes for a surreal, but enchanting experience, amplified by the low lighting and drip-dripping of the cave water. Traditional Korean seafood and liquor is the order of the day, with the dongdongju, traditional Korean rice wine, coming highly recommended.