As the second-largest city in South Korea, Busan is known for its array of shopping malls, immaculate beaches, and even its nightlife scene. However, many may not be aware that Busan also has a bustling food scene. While street food is a draw to the city, additional delectable delights include fish cakes, a combo of chicken and beer, and pork soup. No matter if you want healthy seafood dishes, pub-style delights, or street food, Busan covers it all. Use this list to decide which foods to try while visiting the port city of Busan.
Chimaek (Chicken and Beer)
Who doesn’t like fried chicken? In Busan, the food favorite is particularly popular, and chimaek is a fusion of fried chicken and beer. Chimaek comes from the Korean words “chickin” for chicken and “maekju” for beer. Famed chimaek restaurants in the city follow a recipe of double frying the chicken and then seasoning it with salt and pepper. Many restaurants have their own spin on the favorite dish amongst Busanites and tourists, such as the popular olive oil fried chicken served at BBQ Chicken.
Eomuk (Fish Cakes)
With Busan being a port city, it's only right that they are known for local fish delicacies. One of these includes Eomuk, which are fish cakes most commonly available as street food. Local street vendors prepare fish cakes from a variety of white fish by pounding the meat and forming it into flat fish cakes. In the past, it was a common dish to use up leftover seafood. You can now find the fish cakes at street food vendors and higher-end versions using smoked salmon at upscale restaurants. The cakes are typically added to wooden skewers and kept warm in a hot delicious broth. Premium Busan Fish Cake Goraesa, located in Nampodong, offers a wide selection of eomuk day and night.
Haemul Pajeon (Seafood Scallion Pancakes)
The traditional pancakes in South Korea are made of rice flour, scallions, and either meat or vegetables. Due to Busan being known for its fresh seafood, it's only right that the Busan pajeon is made with a combination of these ingredients and seafood. Cooks prepare the pancakes by frying the scallions in a hot pan and then adding the batter and seafood, cooking until it is browned to perfection. Haemul Pajeon is a favorite street food around the city, but restaurants offer it and various seafood, including shrimps, clams, squid, and oysters. Small restaurant stalls near Jagalchi Fish Market serve up the pancakes daily.
Korean Street Toast
Korean Street Toast is a ubiquitous street food dish in Busan. It consists of a toasted sandwich of two slices of white bread, commonly referred to as Korean egg toast or Korean toast. Some stalls offer it doctored up with tomato sauce, a fried omelet, and topped with sugar. It’s a go-to for Koreans and locals looking for a quick breakfast option before getting their day started sightseeing or working. Isaac Toast is a popular chain throughout Korea, with a famed location in the Bujeondong area of Busan.
Milmyeon (Cold Wheat Noodles)
Milmyeon are cold wheat noodles traditionally served in a cold broth with beef, cucumber, and pear slices. It is then topped with a spicy sauce called gochujang and a diced hard-boiled egg. It is a traditional dish served in Busan which dates back to the Korean War days, where locals would prepare the noodles using wheat flour instead of buckwheat to save money. In addition to wheat flour, the noodles are made with starches such as sweet potatoes. The wildly popular summer dish has been available for more than 20 years at Busan Milmyeon restaurant at gate 10 of the Suyeong subway station.
Dwaeji Gukbap (Pork Soup)
Dwaeji Gukbap, or pork soup, is a staple food on the Busan food scene. It is a portion of comfort food, perfect for when you’re feeling under the weather and need a boost of energy. Dwaeji means pig in Korean, and Gukbap means rice soup. The soup is made of pork belly meat soaked in a spicy bone broth with scallions. The dish can take several hours to prepare as cooks spend hours boiling the pork to make the creamy broth. Additional ingredients added include rice wine, soy sauce, and sesame oil, then placed over a warm bed of steamed rice. Masan Sikdang is one of the top restaurants in the city to delight in this comforting dish.
Busan Bibim Dangmyeon (Chewy Spicy Glass Noodles)
Busan Bibim Dangmeyeon are cold, chewy glass noodles topped with vegetables, seasoned seaweed, a spicy sauce, and egg. The difference between this dish and milmyeon is that the former is made with cellophane noodles, also known as bean thread noodles or glass noodles made from bean starch and water. It is a go-to for a simple snack or lunch option for those on the run. It can best be found at local street vendor stalls and at Wonjo Kkantong Golmok Bibim Dangmyun in Jung-gu.
Moolhwe (Cold Sashimi in Broth)
When most hear sashimi, they probably think of the Japanese variety of it. However, Busan is famous for its local spin on the dish with moolhwe, a cold sashimi in a watery broth with vegetables soaked in a spicy sauce. The spicy broth is made from chili paste, which is mixed with either soybean paste or vinegar. Busan is known for serving up dishes with its locally caught fish. The cold dish is cooled by using ice cubes or crushed ice. It can be found at the Myeongpum Mulhwae restaurant located in Gijang-gun, Busan.
Ssiat Hotteok (Seed Pancakes)
Ssiat hottok, or seed pancakes, is a local street food favorite in Busan found in markets throughout the city. The pancakes are made of rice flour dough, which is covered in cinnamon and sugar. After the dough is fried, it is then cut open and filled with seeds such as either pumpkin, sesame, or sunflower. Locals and tourists enjoy the sugary treat, commonly found being sold on BIFF street by local vendors.
Samgyeopsal Gimbap (Pork Belly Kimbap)
Samgyeopsal, or pork belly, means "three-layer meat" in Korean. Kimbap is rice that also has finely sliced vegetables, pickles, and meat wrapped in seaweed (similar to sushi). They are most commonly filled with either beef, fish cakes, tuna, and anchovies. Busan is known for making its own style of kimbap using pork belly, however. You can try this variation at the Bupyeong (Kkangtong) Market, which is a night market, at exit 7 Jagalchi Station.