Get yo' Grub on! Our favourite places to eat in Busan

Eating out in Korea is amazing. It's soooooo cheap and no matter how fussy you are, you will always find something to satisfy your hunger. There are countless barbecue places, bibimbap restaurants and kimbap cafes everywhere you go but here is the low-down on our favourite places to eat.
Before I dive in though, here is a very useful gem I printed off in my first week here. It's a translated menu for a kimbap restaurant. They almost always have the same things on offer so use this as your bible, or check-list of things to try, when eating in these fantastically cheap diner style eateries.

Right, let's get stuck in.

Pork Barbecue
By far our favourite place to eat is a barbecue restaurant next to David's apartment. It was our first real experience of Korea food and we are now regulars. Having tested various things on the menu, we highly recommend the 우삼겹 (oo-sam-gyeop). This is strips of thin bacon-esque pork that you dip into a bowl of marinade before putting on the grill. You can get it without the marinade but we think it makes a huge difference in taste, with little difference in price. You get unlimited sides (green onions, sliced onions, salad, lettuce leaves) and have to order a minimum of 3 portions of meat but at the low, low price of 3,000 a portion, it's a bargain!

9,000won = 5 whole English pounds!
For all of this - can you believe it?!
You put the meat in the marinade and eat it all up!
Here is a short video showing Dave's preferred way of eating it!

Meat, 2 kinds of onions, garlic and David's favourite
red chilli paste, wrapped in a sesame leaf.
This is called "sam-gyeop-sal" and is delicious.
I loved this photo so much I had to use it again
and I don't think I ever mentioned where it's from...
That's right - our fave restaurant has free ice cream!
Directions: Line 3, Namsanjeong station. Walk up the stairs at exit 5 and keep going for about a minute in the same direction. On your left you will see a restaurant with the name "OK" and then something in Korean. This is the place. Enjoy!

Beef Barbecue
Proper Korean barbecue is cooked over burning coals, and our favourite place to eat this style of food is a chain restaurant called  서래 (so-ray). It's a beef restaurant, so more expensive than the above restaurant. Two people can be fed for 15,000 and this includes unlimited sides of onions, salad and bean sprouts. In a large group, with beers and soju, it usually averages out at 10,000 per person. The great thing about barbecuing beef is that you can cook it exactly how you like it, and these bite-sized chunks of steak are delicious!

The salad has a really tasty, spicy dressing -
last time I went I ate 3 bowls to myself!
You can put the onions and bean sprouts on the
grill to change things up a bit.
Memorise this sign and keep your eyes peeled!
Directions: I'm not going to give any directions because off the top of my head I can think of at least 4 different locations. But if you write the name down on a piece of paper (in Korean) and ask around next time you're in Seomyeon, Kyungsung, PNU, Dongnae etc - you will definitely find one. Just be prepared to wait 10 minutes or so for a table if you go at peak time (7-9pm Fri/Sat).

"Fried" Chicken
Koreans love fried chicken. Who doesn't?! The only thing I don't like about it (aside from having to deal with bones) is the "fried" element. But Korea has that covered. There are a couple of chains we've seen that do oven-baked chicken. It's so good and the fact that there is no f-word means it's guilt free eating! We like the chain called 오꾸닭 (O-koo-dak) and HIGHLY recommend you spend a few extra won to get a dish with sauce on, rather than plain with dipping sauce. We love the teriyaki one and tend to go for the whole chicken, rather than just thighs or wings. The free side dishes are limited to pickles and radishes, and there is a disappointing lack of chips on the menu, but it's still a great place. The portions are huge, with a very pleasing meat:bone ration, so sometimes even Dave doesn't manage to finish it all - but fear not! They will seal your leftovers in a nice plastic box and it's great in a sandwich the next day.
Here's what it looks like from the outside,
so you know what to keep an eye out for.
Saucy chicken selection!
They give you forks!!!

Our research in this area isn't extensive, and so I don't claim our recommendation to be "Busan's Best Burger" - it's simply the best one we have had. It's a place called Farmer Burger, and their menu consists simply of 8 different burgers: Texas, Illinois, New York, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Cancun, Tokyo and Farmer's.
The menu has a description of each, which all sound delicious and all come with a drink and some wedges, for around 12,000won (depending on which burger you get). I had the Honolulu burger, which was so juicy and sweet! It had a slice of pineapple and a fab balsamic dressing. Dave had the Illinois burger and that was amazing too - sweet and juicy with a dead good mustard kick. Anyway, definitely try it next time you get a burger craving!
Erm...yeh...I didn't manage to eat it like that!

I'm not entirely sure of the exact location but there are 2 in Nampo-dong. I have stolen the following directions from so hopefully they are accurate."Directions to location 1: from PIFF square, walk north 1 block; turn right on Gwangbok-ro (the big shopping street) and you’ll find it on the left. 
Directions to location 2: walk up the street from the ABC Mart; walk about 100 meters and turn right. You’ll be able to see Busan Tower directly above you."

Cheap and cheerful
We love Han's Deli. They are located all over Korea and are great for grabbing lunch or a relaxed dinner. Just look for the green signage and white English writing saying "Han's Deli" - it's a dead give-away! The place is nothing fancy, and food isn't mind-blowing but there is a good selection and nothing to complain about. Plus the prices are very reasonable and the free refills on your drinks make it even better value for money! 
Tabasco and Parmesan!
Plus unlimited pickles, kimchi and radish.
Dave's favourite - barbecue chicken. Be warned though,
the 5 fries they give you often arrive cold.
My chilli chicken and a side order of chicken balls.
We were feeling greedy!
Chinese food in Korea is nothing like it is back home...or in China for that matter. You will hear people insist that "black noodles" (noodles with boring black bean sauce) are the be-all and end-all of Chinese food, however there are a couple of alternatives here and they can be found at our favourite Chinese chain restaurant 홍콩 반점 (Hong Kong Banjum). They are dotted all over the city so just look out for the sign (see below). There are 3 dishes to choose from - seafood noodles in a really spicy sauce, sweet and sour pork, and fried dumplings. They all come in 2 sizes, and for a party of 2 the smaller size is definitely enough. Last time we got the small portion of pork and the large portion of dumplings (10, as opposed to 5). The noodles are a meal in their own right so we couldn't get everything at once. Anyway, it came to 14,000won and we ended up taking enough home with us for David to have for lunch the next day. Well worth the money.
Menu, prices and the logo.
Pork - YUM!
We do love our dumplings.
Oh and of course, the side dish -
raw onions with a strong, salty, black bean dip,
and slices of pickled radish.
So there you have it. A few quick tips and our opinions of some of the best places to eat in Busan. Let us know if and when you try them!

Tomorrow's World in Korea

The end of our time in Korea is getting close and we haven't really mentioned much of the crazy technological approaches Koreans have to solving problems. South Korea is the home of LG and Samsung, and therefore you can expect to see a lot of clever little gadgets that are nowhere to be seen in the western world.

We will start with the yogi-yo button. This is prevalent in about 75% of restaurants and is a button that you push to get the attention of your waiter, who then comes scurrying over to see what you need. This saves the hassle of shouting or trying to catch their eye as they whiz past.

This is a more advanced version, with 4 different buttons, representing 4 different requests. Note that "soju" and "beer" each have their own buttons.

Mini-toilet – Katie saw this and it’s brilliant. Not exactly high tech but everyone loves a portable piss pot.

For cars, planes, ships, tents and wheelchairs?
Carousel Car Parks – I’ve mentioned this one before but it has to be brought up again. When space is tight, building a car park that acts like a fairground ride is just genius.

PS3, Wii and Xbox Rooms - Pay about 80p an hour to play a huge selection of games on any console. These are amazing and it's a shame that I have only just discovered them! The rooms are kitted out with dozens of huge plasma screens and comfy sofas, making them a great place to chill out with friends.
They have snacks and drinks as well. No beer unfortunately.
Probably a blessing though or I would skip travelling and live in one of these for 5 months.

Hand towels in pill form – Just add water to these tablets. Again they exist in the UK but when do restaurants give them to you instead of a normal wet towel? In Korea, it happens often.
Phone Charger
Korea is more than a little obsessed with mobile phones so it doesn't come as a big surprise when you are climbing a mountain and come across a phone charger...powered by cycling...

Or power it by milking a virtual cow.

Disposable umbrella covers – Koreans use umbrellas more than any other nation on Earth, so it is no surprise that most stores will have one of these at the entrance.
Store your umbrella in a disposable plastic bag so you don’t get everything wet as you walk around the shop. Don’t worry environmentalists, when you exit there is a box to put your carrier so it can be recycled / re-used. My only issue with them is that they happen to look like horse condoms...

As well as ingenious gadgetry, there is also an abundance of useless tech. For every Dyson vacuum, there are dozens of pairs of umbrella shoes.
Korea’s obsession with umbrellas takes new heights!
Here are a few of my fave useless / pointless inventions:

TVs Everywhere - We start with an expensive way to advertise. Adding a little TV on the majority of payphones so that they can display an advert – so pointless. Especially when you consider that almost every Korean now owns a mobile phone. Who uses payphones anymore?!

Some sections of the subway even have TVs full of advertisements that you can watch as you speed past.

Kinda cool but very pointless.
Supermarket TV
Brightly lit shop – If the mini TVs don't work, you can always have the brightest shop in the world. I took this photo from a moving bus (hence the bad quality) - I was snapped out of my commuter-stare-into-space by this ridiculousness.
Luckily electricity is cheap in Korea or he’d be out of business. I wonder if he has a sideline hobby of collecting moths…

Dancing Robotic Statues
To advertise your shop, what works better than a dancing robotic bear!? This is the craziness that is South Korea and it's strange stance on advertising.
Oh my...please excuse the face! This was
taken at the end of a long night!
I even found the shop that sells the dancing bears.
Ironically it didn't use a dancing bear to advertise.

My School's Printer
I put this in because it makes me laugh every time I use it.
I have never seen a colour printer that is connected to jars of ink before - maybe I have lived a sheltered life...

Arcade Games - Don't get me wrong, I love arcades with a passion. What I think is a little strange is that outside EVERY convenience store, there is some kind of arcade game. Normally just a "swallow your money while you try to win a cheaply made stuffed toy" game and I hate those. Give me a Tekken or tennis game any day.
Outside a Shop
Outside a Restaurant
Outside a Light fitting shop??
I took all 4 photos on my walk from school to the subway station. In other words - there is a shit-tonne of old arcade machines.

Musical Toilets - We have already shown you the digi-bog and its features, but here is something I found on the back of a cubicle door. This is one for the ladies. It's is an unnecessarily bulky sanitary bag dispenser with a built-in boom-box. Ok, not quite a boom-box, but it played music (rather than the usual flushing water sounds) to disguise your tinkling and the whole thing took up way too much space in the already cramped cubicle. Having said that, I prefer it to the mirror that is usually there. It amazes me that Korean women have the balance and poise to squat, wee, smoke and put on make-up at the same time. I'd be more impressed if all this didn't mean I always have to wait ages to have my turn!
Tablet computers – Now I know that iPads and Galaxy tabs exist in the western world but only in Korea do you find entire carriages of trains using them. You often get bumped into by people who are walking while watching TV on their screens. They get TV straight to their phones as well to fulfil all their Korean soap opera needs.
Everyday occurrence
What I found interesting is that on the subway in Tokyo, a city that I imagined to be far more technological than Busan, almost everyone was reading real life books, with pages and bookmarks! There were hardly any smartphones or iPads in sight.

Styler – For 300 pounds you can buy a high tech wardrobe.

It doesn’t have an entrance to Narnia at the back but it does have some useful features.
In order: Reduces Creases (by shaking), Keeps clothes fresh (good ventilation??), Sterilisation (Antibacterial sprays??) and dries clothes (hot air??).

Expect this bad boy to be hitting your shelves next Christmas.
I also doubles as a mirror… ooooooh shiiiiiny!

Happy 2012 and hopefully we'll see some of these technologies when we return  to the UK in July!

What to Take When Moving to Korea & Golden Nuggets of Advice

Take it or leave it
Everyone has their own opinions on what you should take but we hope to dispel some of the myths and make our own comprehensive list of vital things to pack before you move.
Keep in mind, though, that this is based on our experience living in Busan, which is bigger and more multi-cultural than some other cities and so has more stuff available. And if you are moving to the country you will have even fewer "western" basics at your disposal.

So let’s go:

Deodorant – Top of everyone’s list. It is not entirely true that Koreans don't use deodorant/antiperspirant. It is definitely possible to buy roll-ons here, and you will find sprays if you take the time to look. However it is insanely expensive so I recommend bringing a few cans, especially as the humidity is unbearable in the summer. TAKE IT

Toothpaste – Korean toothpaste does not have fluoride in most of the time and many people complain about the taste so bring a tube or two. TAKE IT

Suncream – Suncream here is expensive and often contains whitening stuff in it as well. So take enough for the 4 months of bright sunshine. TAKE IT

Mouthwash – Korean mouthwash sucks but they do sell Listerine. TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT.

Bedsheets – I do not understand Korean attitudes to bedsheets - they appear not to use any. Some western style ones are sold in Homeplus or on but they're not cheap. I would say TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT depending on space. I didn’t bring any and I have managed by simply lowering my standards of cleanliness, when it comes to my bedding. If you do bring them, bring queen or double size (if you don't know what bed you will have) and tuck it in if you get a smaller bed.

Gifts ­– It is very common to give gifts in Korea and it gets you off to a good start with your boss. It doesn’t have to be expensive but something traditional from your country is a good idea. If you are worried about space, buy something in the airport on your way, such as whiskey (which is taxed heavily here) or some chocolate/biscuits. TAKE IT or buy at your airport.

SHOES – Very important if you have big feet. By big, I mean bigger than size 8 for girls and 10 for boys (US sizes). Bring enough trainers for the entire year because you just cant find them here. I brought one pair of smart shoes and wear them inside school because I can’t find slippers that fit me here. (I’m size 13 US) TAKE IT if you have big feet - girls with average size feet will love shoe shopping here though!!!

Creams and Toiletries – They sell most stuff here so unless you really are tied to that ONE type of Nivea face cream (shut up Dave!), you’ll be fine.

Electronic goods – Every westerner I know expects Korea to be dirt cheap for cameras, MP3 players, iPads, etc but this is not the technological wonderland you have been led to believe. Most electronics are around 10-50% more expensive here including Korean brands. Check out and compare. TAKE IT

Towels – EPIK normally provide a towel and if they don’t, get down to a decent sized Homeplus and you can get a nice big one for $10. I would recommend buying a travel towel but that’s because I’m a huge fan. LEAVE IT

Tampons & condoms – I will take the lead here because Dave doesn't know what he's talking about. You can buy tampons in Korea! They are available in big supermarkets like Homeplus, Emart and Lotte Mart and if you're not fussy about the style/brand then you'll be fine. I haven't actually bought any here so I'm not sure of prices but they are bulky thing to pack in your suitcase. If you are concerned then bring a couple of months' worth and get some posted over. They are dead light so won't cost much to send. 
Condoms are tiny so unless you have a miniscule penis, I would recommend bringing some. TAKE IT

Vitamins and Medications – Bring a good supply of vitamins as you’re more likely to get ill here because of the different climate, the change in diet (lack of vitamins) and being surrounded by people who love to share germs. Bring a supply of your favourite medications, as trying to play charades with a pharmacist isn’t much fun when you feel like crap. However, meds are generally very cheap here and readily available so don't worry too much about dedicating valuable space and weight to bringing painkillers and cold remedies. TAKE IT but don't stress about it.

Shaving Stuff – They sell Gillette stuff and have Mach 3 razor blades but they are expensive, although I suppose blades always are. For girls there are plenty of razor or hair removal cream options so I would say TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT

Books / Kindle – English books are difficult to find (but not impossible! ( so bring some reading materials. TAKE IT

Favourite Chocolate or Sweets – You’re going miss Cadburys, Haribo and Reese’s so bring some to treat yourself when you’re feeling a bit low. TAKE IT

MONEY – You won't get paid for a while so bring $1000 equivalent or more. TAKE IT

Herbs and Spices – There are only a few places that sell any flavourings other than salt, pepper, sugar, garlic and red pepper paste (in Busan at least). Bring your oregano, cumin and turmeric and you’ll save a trip to Sasang (for Busanites) to get your stuff. TAKE IT

Plug adapters – Don’t buy the bulky ones, get a small one so you can be sure it will fit in your socket. They use the 2-round-pin plugs like Europe so it's easy. If you have space you could even bring a multi-plug extension cord from your home land to add some sockets to your life. TAKE IT

EDIT: Travel Insurance - If you plan on leaving Korea during holidays, you will not be covered by their health insurance. So buy some before you leave home as it will work out a lot cheaper. We bought 18 months worth for under £200. If we would have waited until we left Korea, it would have cost over £300 to get 6 months cover. Most travel insurance companies require you to be in your home country before you buy it.

Golden Nuggets of Advice for Prospective EPIK Teachers

Lower your expectations – Students will probably not be interested in your classes (it's nothing personal!) and co-teachers will most likely undermine you. Don’t expect to change anyone's life and you won't be disappointed.

Keep an Open Mind – You’ve decided to move to Korea so don’t start getting upset that no-one speaks English or that your school doesn’t have a western toilet. You’re not in Kansas anymore Dorothy. Just go with the flow, be easy going and above all talk to someone about your frustrations – no matter how small or petty they may seem. That’s what has kept us sane(ish).

Enjoy Yourself – You’ve flown halfway round the world so go out, meet some people, eat some strange food and sing some karaoke.

The best piece of advice for dealing with your co-workers: PICK YOUR BATTLES! Do not get hung up if they start translating what you’re saying into Korean during a class. It’s probably because no-one understands and even if you want to explain it differently, DO NOT say anything in front of class. Cool down, take a breather and if it is still bothering you a few days later, say something. I pretty much let everything slide over me except the big ones such as vacation dates, leaving early during camp and being paid on time. If my co-teacher was 10 minutes late then slept through my whole lesson – I didn’t say a word. If my co-teacher interrupted my class by shouting FOR TEN MINUTES at a student for being disruptive, therefore disrupting the class ten times worse… I didn’t say anything. If my co-teacher told me on a Friday afternoon, five minutes to me leaving that I have to teach something on Monday entirely different to what I was expecting to… I didn’t say anything. A lot of it is about saving face if they have made a mistake, or showing that they have more power than you. This is part of Confucian culture so get used to it - you are the bottom of the ladder. So remember to PICK YOUR BATTLES.

A Day in the Life of a Public School Teacher

I have decided to choose a random Tuesday in December and write about my school day to illustrate how “dynamic” Busan and teaching English is in Korea.

As I started my journey to school on a bus from Katie’s apartment, I realised that I was very fortunate not to have been killed yet. These buses are ridiculous; they accelerate and break sharply trying desperately to throw everyone onboard over.

I was lucky to arrive a school at 8.10am without any broken bones. I like to get to school early (20 mins before my contract states I need to be in) so I can rush off, guilt free, as soon as I am permitted to leave (4.30pm). I spend the first 5 mins waiting for my computer to load and grab a drink of hot water to warm me up in the freezing common room. I mean, it is seriously cold; I usually keep my gloves on until about 10am, by which time the gas heaters have heated the room up enough.

My school computer loads and my first instinct is to load up Chrome – what a mistake. I had not waited long enough for my computer to boot and I get the blue screen of death and a computer restart is in order. Six minutes later I’m on facebook and dealing with the "First World Problems" I have, such as replying to posts, checking emails, and my bank balance.

I then decide to look over some camp materials I have previously prepared ( / downloaded from a teaching website) to make sure everything is in order. I knew I was doing this journal today and it has inspired me to get on with some work – nothing to do with the fact that camp is in 6 days.

My first lesson is at 9am and at 8:55am I am told that all lessons will be 5 minutes shorter than normal today. Why? Nobody knows at this point. Also I will not have my lesson during period 6. Why? Nobody knows at this point. Great, my teaching time has been cut from 3 hours to 2 hours. More time preparing camp materials / procrastinating.

My co-teacher tells me she will be five minutes late to our class today. This is fine because we have finished the book so I was planning on either playing a Christmas game or just watching YouTube clips depending on the children’s preference. I tell my pregnant co-teacher to “take a rest” and I will do the lesson on my own. By do the lesson, I mean watch Zidane, Henry and Bergkamp score goals while the kids cheer at the football geniuses (and lack of work).

After the chore of watching football videos for 40 minutes, I have a 50 minute break until my next class. I use this time productively to start this blog entry and read about the football games on last night, as well as check my favourite blogs and news websites.

My next class is with a co-teacher I really like and she is also the head of English. She is smart, flexible and very accommodating considering she is a fair bit older than myself (which is a HUGE deal in Korea). She is busy and tells me she will be five minutes late – no problem of course. I get to the classroom and try to plug in the RGB cable to connect my laptop to the TV and one of the pins is bent. It takes about five minutes to straighten it out thanks to a student’s fingernails. Note: I really need to stop biting my fingernails so I can do it myself.

As I get the TV working, my co-teacher comes in and tells me I need to finish my section of the book. Well I now have 35 minutes to teach 5 pages of the book consisting of speaking, listening and writing for an entire chapter – I normally spend 3 weeks on a chapter. I tell her this is impossible and instead I will do a lesson teaching all the vocabulary and key phrases from the book off the top of my head. I love adlibbing a class, especially on an interesting subject such as recycling and the environment. The class goes really well and my co-teacher and I agree that this lesson was much better than repeating phrases from a poorly constructed book. This is the only part of the day when I feel satisfied I have done something worthwhile.

I finish that class at 11.20am and have ten minutes before my next class. When the bell goes and I go upstairs, my co-teacher and I discover that the class has been cancelled for an impromptu PE lesson. My day of teaching is now over and it isn’t even 11.30 yet.

I go downstairs and one of the teachers lets me in on the secret as to why classes are shortened – the kids are cleaning the classrooms for the final two periods of school. I love Korean logic: Why hire professional cleaners when you have a load of students who are capable of cleaning the schools? Everyday you see students mopping, sweeping and wiping the floor – the one official cleaner only does the bathrooms.

I have my lunch, which consists of dumpling stew, squid and fish cake… yum yum yum.
I then play footy at lunchtime to break up some of the monotony of my day and to get me away from a computer. The kids have fun but I have even more fun! The rest of the day I now have to myself and this is when I can either go on the internet, write, lesson plan, sleep or read. I go home at 4.30pm with a smile on my face.

Today has been a pretty average day – most days there is a schedule change and at least one cancelled class. It is end of term though so that means my lessons generally consist of watching a film - my co-teachers ask me to do this! And this is the reason, ladies and gentlemen, that I am not staying for a second year. I do not have enough work and I don’t feel like I am helping these kids as much as I could be. Believe it or not, I am looking forward to the day when I am so busy that I don’t have time to check my facebook.