Apr 182011

Passageway in "Dragon Dream, cave bar, Busan Korea.

**CAVE BAR AIN’T WHAT IT USED TO BE. The menu isn’t the same (way more expensive), the pajeon is no longer, but apparently there IS still dongdongju. The good news is that it’s still in a cave. That’s about it. See comments for more info. I do believe it’s still open, despite some saying that it might be closed. But it’s really not nearly as good as it used to be.**

“Dragon Dream,” more commonly known as the cave bar, is the coolest place to eat and drink in Busan.  I’ve always been partial to underground bars with stone walls and confusing passages.  Having lived in Prague, I thought that I’d probably experienced just about every kind of underground bar there was.  But I don’t think I ever drank in an actual cave there.  Literally, the walls drip water, and you are inside the mountain.

Beyond the unique setting, the cave bar has a whole lot more to offer.  The food was awesome. (not anymore).  I’ve been in Korea for a while now, and I can safely say they have some of the best kimchi I’ve ever tasted.  We also ordered the kimchi pajeon (no longer here!!!), and it was incredible.  It had more of a deep-dish pizza texture than the standard street pajeon.  We got it without seafood, which I prefer.  Sometimes too much squid can really ruin it.    They were so good that we ordered two more rounds of them after we finished the first.

The other specialty is dongdongju, which is kind of rice wine very similar to makgeolli.  Normally I avoid the rice wines because one sip almost guarantees a killer hangover the next day, but I really enjoyed the dongdongju.  It was served in one big bowl, then ladled into smaller drinking bowls from which to sip.  If the rice wine doesn’t do it for you, there’s also standard priced bottles of Hite and some special kinds of soju that should get the job done.

One of the best things about “Dragon Dream” is how far you feel from the often insular expat bar circuit.  Despite being seated near another group of foreigners, it felt a far cry from playing darts and eating hamburgers in KSU somewhere, which was a nice change of pace.

Definitely take a Saturday afternoon, and venture out to find this place.  It’s a short taxi ride to Seomyeon afterwards, if you plan to continue hanging out.  Although it’s very tough to find, our detailed directions should make it easier.  It’s very much worth the effort.
Directions are tough, so follow these pics (scroll down for a map):

1. Beomil Subway station, exit 7. When you exit, you’ll see this (below) Turn LEFT.

Directions to the cave bar in Beomil 1
2. Continue down that street with the side of the Hyundai Department Store on your left. You’ll see this:

Directions to the Cave Bar in Beomil
3. Keep going. Up ahead, you’ll see a creepy, rusty stairway that goes to a bridge over railroad tracks. Cross that bridge:

Directions to the Cave Bar in Beomil
4. After the bridge, turn LEFT. You’ll see a green and white awning on your left and pay phones on your right (below). Keep going.

Directions to the Cave Bar in Beomil
5. Look across the street. There will be a crosswalk going to a Paris Baguette (below). Cross it! Turn LEFT after you’ve crossed the street.

Directions to the Cave Bar in Beomil
6. You’ll see a bus stop sign for Borim cinema. Take your first RIGHT after you see this:

Directions to the Cave Bar in Beomil
7. Then take your first LEFT. The bar/restaurant is on your RIGHT and it looks like this:

The entrance to the Cave Bar
So let’s review: Beomil exit 7. Turn LEFT. Cross the bridge. Turn LEFT. Cross the street at Paris Baguette. Turn LEFT. Take your first RIGHT and immediately take another LEFT. Cave bar is on your right. Here’s a map for you map-oriented people:

  16 Responses to “Cave Bar, “Dragon Dream” in Beomil-dong”

  1. This place is awesome. If you prefer not to walk from the subway and get a taxi almost to the front door, the restaurant gave me their card with directions so copy this down and say it or give it to the taxi driver
    위치: 범일1동사무소 앞 한상기린 아파트 맞은편
    (It says something like Beomildong District office, across from Han Sang Green Apt) It’s from the restaurants business card. Once there the above named Han Sang Green apt is the big building in the background in the picture above in #7, with your back to that building cross the road and take and alleyway off the main road, take your first right and it’s on your right after a few yards.

    For further directions here is a post on Koreabridge discussing the place

  2. Hi, I think it’s worth mentioning that the tables and seats in the “cave” part of the restaurant are made of stone and therefore immovable. If you have a larger party, you can sit in the front of the restaurant but you don’t get that cool “cave” feeling. We crammed 6 people around the stone table but it was uncomfortable after a while and the restaurant provided us with an extra chair.

    I also ordered the pajeon (you have to order food, as this is a restaurant, not a bar) and it was very, very good. Even if you aren’t hungry and go to Dragon Dream after dinner for a few drinks, order the pajeon and by the end of the first cauldron of dongdongju you and your company will have nibbled away at all the pajeon.

    I know that for Koreans rainy weather is makkoli/dongdongju drinking weather, but I would avoid Dragon Dream on a rainy day as the cave floor literally becomes a river and you’re sure to be dripped on constantly from overhead.

  3. This place looks amazing! I love the diversity that you find in Korea. I have been living here for close to two years now, and Korea is always surprising me with little gems like this. So I guess I’ll be going to Busan to eat some pajeon on a sunny day sometime soon.

  4. Anyone know what time this place opens? Thanks!

    • ahh I don’t actually know what time they open. I know that I’ve been there around 4:00 – that’s the earliest I’ve been there. Sorry I can’t be more specific!

  5. Hey all, just wondering if anyone can suggest some vegetarian friendly dishes to try out at this restaurant! Sounds really amazing and would love to go but would hate to miss out on the good food! thanks:)

    • Hey, it depends on what kind of vegetarian you are. If you’re ok with seafood (octopus) then you’ll be good to go with the excellent kimchi pajeon. If you’re not ok with seafood, still order the kimchi pajeon, but tell them no hae-mul (해물).

  6. Has anyone been here recently? I went in April, I believe, and they had totally changed their menu. You had to order food, none of which was jeon. It was all expensive shrimp pasta or grilled shrimp – nothing suitable for a vegetarian or even very affordable. It was so disappointing because this used to be my favorite spot in Busan and I would like to go there again!

    • OH NO… I’ll ask around to see if anyone else had the same experience… this sounds like a huge, huge shame! Thanks for the heads-up, Sarah. Oh man. Big loss for Busan!

    • I also went in April and found the same menu — I assumed it was a seasonal thing, though. Haven’t been back since to confirm.

  7. I went, but everyone in the shops in the area said it was closed. I wanna kick it in a cave. Come on foreigners… lets buy the cave bar and make it a hot spot!!!

  8. The girlfriend and I visited the cave last night before our train back to Seoul. The menu was indeed different, offering options including grilled and steamed shrimp/prawn dishes. All were in the 25k to 45k price range (!!!), with the exception of three rice dishes in the 2k range. While the shrimp was tasty (six huge mega shrimp, grilled), there was much sadness of expecting delicious kimchi pajeon and not getting it. However, I *can* say that the dongdongju is still available. I ordered it not knowing the gf wasn’t a fan and had to down the entire bowl. Had to.

    Thanks for this blog! Never would’ve found this place without it.

  9. The “dong dong ju” is just a bottle of Saengtak makoli from the store over priced.

    The Pajeon is gone and the soup is over priced crap you can get anywhere. Don’t go to this place, let’s avoid this place so they stop ripping off foreigners!

  10. Hey, I hope this restaurant is still here. I see the last bit of activity on this post was in 2013…Anyway, I really want to see this, but I hate seafood…do you think I can order stuff and ask them to leave out the seafood…I do realise they only serve seafood haha, but worth a try? And were the prices reasonable?

    • Hi Sandhira,
      It’s still there I think, but just it’s not nearly as nice as it used to be. It’s the same locale, but it’s much more commercial, and not as special as it used to be. There should be some normal (i.e. non-seafood) items on the menu. You can maybe order things with “No hae-mul” which should maybe get them not to serve the seafood. Worth a shot, at least. Good luck!

  11. This bar is now a hollow shell of a building and is clearly no longer in business 🙁

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