There are a host of reasons to visit Busan whether you want to enjoy the funky club scene, the array of historical museums, or to check out their world-renown movie scene. The port city is also known for its diverse selection of food and restaurants. Busan is home to unique street food vendors, as well as contemporary and upscale fine-dining. Here are the city's top restaurants spanning across 15 distinctive categories, from traditional Korean to street food. Use this list to expand your taste buds and dining options throughout the second largest city in South Korea.
Best Budget: Choryang Milmyeon
For tourists looking for an affordable yet delicious option of a classical Busan dish, then Choryang Milmyeon situated in the Dong-gu area near Busan station is the best choice for them. It serves up cold milmyeon or flour noodles, which many locals enjoy on hot summer days. The affordable prices aren’t the only reason to visit since the restaurant offers some of the best classic rice noodles, a Busan specialty, in town. In addition to offering noodles, the restaurant serves delicious mandu (dumplings), that tourists and locals can enjoy in the low-key setting of the restaurant.
Best Seafood: Jagalchi Fish Market
Jagalchi Fish Market is a staple area to try while visiting Busan. Busan is famed for its variety of seafood selections due to it being a port city. A visitor can choose from just about any seafood delicacies, from crab and eel to clams and sashimi. As you wander the market simply pick your desired seafood items, then take it to one of the small vendors who will cook your dish for you. The food is served upstairs with a selection of side dishes such as Korean pancakes, kimchi, and rice.
Best Korean Barbecue: Anga
Anga is a staple Korean barbecue restaurant in the Haeundae area of Busan. While beef and chicken are both on offer, Anga is best-known for the delicious marinated pork, which is grilled on individual grills which are built into each table. Diners can also enjoy a vegetable bar and condiments for dipping the freshly grilled meat. If visiting during lunch hours, note that they only serve a set lunchtime meal, not private grills. If you want the full barbecue experience, be sure to head to this hip spot in the evening.
Best Street Food: Food Street at Gukje Market
Gukje Market—a food street located in the middle of the Jung-gu area in Busan—is one of the most famous food markets in the city. The shopping stalls situated around the market offer delectable street food choices such as kimbap, kimchi, pork noodles, and more. Diners can pick up quick bites on the go while strolling through the markets or take a seat at one of the stalls where plastic chairs align them to enjoy the bustling views of shoppers moving through the market.
Best Fine-Dining: Dining Room
Dining Room is an upscale steak and seafood restaurant located on the 32nd floor of the Park Hyatt hotel in Busan. It is home to an open kitchen, allowing diners to enjoy incredible views inside of the chef’s workspace to see them preparing the meals over an open charcoal grill. The contemporary designed establishment serves an incredible selection of dishes including Korean hanwoo beef steaks, Australian rack of lamb, and a selection of seafood like octopus and Atlantic lobster. It also has a great selection of wine pairings to go with the upscale dishes.
Best Traditional: Jeonglim
Jeonglim is a classic Korean restaurant set in a hanok (traditional house from the Joseon era) which is known for hosting ladies’ lunches and events. It is located near Dongnae station but since it's a bit hidden, we recommend taking a taxi to find the restaurant instead of walking from the station. The meals consist of everything from Korean barbecue to vegetarian options and classics such as juk (rice porridge) and dolsotbap (a rice dish served in a hot stone pot). Diners can enjoy a host of small plates as well like bite-sized jeon (Korean style pancakes), pickles, and kimchi.
Best Food Hall: Shinsegae Food Hall
Busan's Shinsegae Mall is the biggest department store in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records, so it’s only right that they’d have an impressive selection of foods at its basement food court. Shinsegae Food Hall is chock full Korean, Japanese, and Chinese dining options including other Asian and a few Western dining options also. You'll have your pick of sushi, bibimbap, pork cutlets, noodles, and even freshly baked pizza. It can be overwhelming to pick from the many options but we recommend Kanso for fried pork cutlets, Hao for Chinese food, and Bibimbap Factory for Korean rice dishes.
Best Korean Wine: Boksoondoga F1963
Situated at the F1963 Cultural Center in the Suyeong-gu neighborhood is Boksoondoga, an upscale restaurant that offers a variety of Korean rice wines including soju and makgeolli. They also serve dishes that are a fusion of classic Korean favorites with Western influences with a selection of seafood dishes and meat selections paired with sides like rice and pasta. Further alcohol selections include Argentinan and Italian wines. Those interested in learning more about the fermentation process of the rice wine can take the “Makgeolli Experience Class," which runs on the weekends.
Best Views: Mugunghwa
Located on the 43rd floor of Lotte Hotel is Mugunghwa, an immaculate restaurant offering widespread views of the city. The swanky restaurant has five private dining rooms along with a massive main dining room. The food offerings include traditional Korean dishes like braised short ribs, kimchi, and bulgogi. The stunning décor includes designs of modern takes on the mugunghwa (hibiscus), the national flower of Korea. The restaurant also has spectacular views of Baekyangsan Mountain.
Best Tea Cafe: Poong-Kyung
Poong-Kyung is in Bujeon-dong, not far from Seomyeon station, which is a great option for tourists who are interested in having a traditional Korean tea experience while visiting Busan. The café features traditionally dressed servers, who assist guest with Korean gracefulness and delicacy. Tea offerings include green tea as well as yuja tea (a sweetened citrus tea), and even a more modern twist of sweet pumpkin latte. Of course, for those who aren’t interested in tea, other options include standard black coffee and lattes which can be paired with light snacks such as sandwiches and cookies.
Best Italian: La Bella Citta
La Bella Citta, with its enchanting designs of outdoor grottos and dining areas, is in the Haeundae area of Busan. The Italian restaurant is a great dining choice for families, expats, and locals. Expect Italian classics like pizza, fresh salad, and carbonara pasta using fresh ingredients in its modern, yet vintage designed environment. Diners can also enjoy amazing city views with their meal.
Best Korean Specialty: Jang Su Sam
Jang Su Sam is a smaller establishment but they know how to do one of Busan’s beloved dishes best: samgye-tang. The dish comes with a whole chicken stuffed with rice and healthy ingredients including ginseng and garlic simmering in a slightly milky broth. The healthy meal is known for curing alignments and sickness and is a traditional warm-weather meal for those cool winter days in the port city with bustling winds. Each serving comes with an array of Korean pickles and on most occasions, it is recommended to drink a glass of the specialty ginseng drink at the end of the meal.
Best Vegetarian: Ecotopia
The brightly lit Ecotopia is a fantastic vegetarian-friendly restaurant positioned in the Suyeong-gu district of Busan. Standout dishes include tofu bibimbap and vegetable gratin with salad and bread. The quaint restaurant also has a garden for outdoor eating on warm, sunny days. The only dish on the menu that isn’t vegetarian friendly is the cabbage kimchi since it traditionally uses fish sauce. However, it can be made vegetarian-friendly at the special request of customers.
Best French Fare: Merciel
Merciel is an exquisite upmarket French restaurant located in the hotspot of Dalmaji Hill. It offers authentic French cuisine and a unique fine-dining experience in Busan. It is headed up by Chef Yoon, who has two decades of experience at restaurants throughout France. The restaurant serves modern and classic French food including a prime-rated Korean tenderloin steak and authentic creme brulee with fresh vanilla cream. It also has an extensive selection of wines and cocktails for guests to enjoy with their fanciful meals.
Best Themed Cafe: PO TID
Tourists will feel like they’ve stepped onto the set of "Harry Potter" at Po Tid restaurant located in Bujeon-dong, down the road from Jeonpo station. The quirky eatery looks like it should be on Diagon Alley, not the Bujeon-dong neighborhood. "Harry Potter" fans can rejoice while eating cookies or sipping coffee in the unique setting decorated with wand boxes and oil paintings while dark wood and warm pendant lights set the mood.