May 162011

Very lively Japanese bar and restaurant in Seomyeon, Busan

Post by Melissa Tait

Korea/Japan/Korea/Japan. A lot of my friends back home aren’t really sure of the differences between these two. Australian schoolchildren aren’t really taught about Dokdo, or any part of the long and tumultuous history between these two countries. Before I came here I knew there was very small difference between K-Pop and J-Pop. I had been to Japan five times so when I thought about Korea I just thought of a slightly different version of the Japanese restaurants I had been to in Tokyo and Sydney. Of course, the reality is that Korea and Japan’s cuisines and dining styles are very different and if I ordered sushi at a restaurant I’d probably get a dirty look. Another big disappointment for me is that Japanese beers are quite expensive here, and I’m quite fond of Asahi.

But I happen to pass a Japanese looking establishment every other day in Seomyeon. I finally dragged a friend along to see if it was, in fact, a Japanese bar and indeed it is! From the dishes on the menu to the wide range of Sake and the Fugu hanging from the light shade, this is a little piece of Shinjuku in Seomyeon. We went on a Friday night and the vibe was just electric. The bench seats were full, people were ordering yummy dishes left and right and the dimmed lights gave a very cosy vibe.

Dining Sake bar packed on a Friday night.The menu was a little bit of an issue, some of the titles are translated into English, but 95% of the menu is in Hangul. To make matters a little more complicated than it already is, we were a bit worried about Japanese dishes translating into Korean. We finally sounded out Okonomiyaki (Japanese pizza, one of our faves) and ordered that. It was incredibly tasty, only slightly different to the one I had in Osaka. We enjoyed sharing our dish, but some amazing grilled
and flambe fish dishes were being brought to the tables left and right and we had a little bit of menu envy.

Crowds of people and lots of sake choices available.I was drinking Asahi, which was W6,000. Santori is also available at W8,000. Cass and Hite are also available around W4,000. There is a whole menu devoted to Sake, which ranges from W20,000 – W80,000+. I’m not really a fan and I noticed quite a few tables around us were drinking Soju.

Food snobs can have an argument about just how authentically Japanese it is, but the Japanese-authentic-ness really struck me in this cheery bar. It was Japan light, or just taking the best bits and supplementing with some Korean booze for familiarity. I’d recommend this for anyone who is a Sake-snob or just keen on someplace a little different with a great atmosphere.

Sashimi W10,000 – W50,000
Grilled menu W15,000
Okonomiyaki W15,000
Asahi W6,000
Suntori (beer) W8,000
Sake W20,000 – W80,000

*They use peanuts as chopstick rests here and probably in other things.  If you’re severely allergic, you might want to stay away.

Directions: from Seomyeon station, head to exit 1, but continue through the underground mall until you find gate/exit 4 (it should be the second set of exits that you come to on your right). This brings you aboveground outside a Woori Bank. Turn left and Sake Dining Bar is on the right hand side in the alley, two shops past Bon Juk. You can see the tables and drums from the street.

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