**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.
2. Continue down that street with the side of the Hyundai Department Store on your left. You’ll see this:
3. Keep going. Up ahead, you’ll see a creepy, rusty stairway that goes to a bridge over railroad tracks. Cross that bridge:
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.
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.
6. You’ll see a bus stop sign for Borim cinema. Take your first RIGHT after you see this:
7. Then take your first LEFT. The bar/restaurant is on your RIGHT and it looks like this:
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: