Mar 062013



IMG_20130215_124903Well Balanced Nutrition:” quite a bold statement. Bolder still when printed in large block letters above the picture of a supersized burger on a brightly lit example of restaurant signage. Somehow I’m not entirely convinced. There’s something that seems almost too good to be true about those two going together. The sight of my own burger (which I strongly suspect of harboring an onion ring somewhere amidst its savory layers of meat and cheese), isn’t really helping.  But I’m not ready to give up yet. Maybe the balance isn’t in the burger at all. Maybe it’s somewhere in the side order of garlic cheese fries. Welcome to Valance Burger: Very Delicious and Balanced.

The fact of the matter is that I hold at most only a passing interest in balance and nutrition; despite the best efforts of the good people at Valance Burger to draw my attention to it. I’m there only to indulge my interest in a good burger and nothing more, except perhaps a coke and some fries. Sure they may have the symbolic image of a scale above their doorway and offer menu items such as “a salad of a meal” for those so inclined, but who’s falling for it and who really cares?  Valance makes a good burger and I would eat it even if it came with a Surgeon General’s warning.

IMG_20130215_125128    Questionable marketing aside, Valance gets two things absolutely right: they have good food at a good price, and provide a comfortable area to sit down and enjoy it.    Naturally their menu is focused on burgers. They menu offers what looks like the usual array of burgers, cheese burgers, bacon burgers and chicken burgers, along with more imaginatively named variations such as the  Dracula, Mania and Autumn Squash Burger. The sandwiches can be matched with any of three sets, all including a drink and either fries, garlic fries, or chili fries. I also spotted at least three different kinds of hot dog and salads, spring rolls, crunch shrimp, and hot fish nuggets just to keep things interesting. Best of all no set will set you back more than 9,000 W.

The burgers come wrapped in a folded paper pocket, skewered with an oversized toothpick bearing the burger’s name at the top.  The sandwich is substantial without being so large as to require either taking it apart or unhinging your lower jaw in order to eat it. The fries are of the crinkle cut variety and each order comes with more than enough of them.  The restaurant itself is clean, surprisingly spacious, comfortable and simple which means there’s nothing to really distract you from the most important fact of all; the fact that everything just tastes right.  Valance isn’t the kind of place you go to eat because the promise of “balance” drew you in, or because you’re just desperate for western food. Its somewhere you go because you appreciate a good burger, or feel that you should be able to enjoy fast food that doesn’t look or taste like it was designed by a team of efficiency experts and accountants . Valance is good stuff at a good price, and looking for an easy lunch or dinner, what’s better than that?



To get there, exit the PNU Station at exit three. Walk up the shopping street until it intersects a main road and turn left at Starbucks. Valance is about half a block down on the left side.

View Valance Burger in a larger map

Feb 032013

By Fiona Van Tyne


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Exceptional sushi in Busan is easy to come by. I cannot count the number of rolls and pieces of raw fish that I have enjoyed here. For me, living somewhere completely landlocked, sushi was something that was terribly expensive and only good half the time. I have been lucky in Busan to find a place that does rolls for a decent price that are truly heavenly.


For the first few time I have been here I had no idea what the name was. Come to find out it was Sushi and Roll. The sign was in Korean and the only indication that they had Japanese food was the case outside (that and the English letters below the Koreans ones saying Sushi and Roll). I am not one to usually go for a restaurant whose best ploy to get me in the door is the plastic food adorned in a dimly lit case.

Above mentioned plastic food case

Above mentioned plastic food case



Granted, it was raining, and I was cold, and this place had maybe something that possibly looked like something I could want. So I braved the plastic case and took a risk.


When I walked in side I found a busy but not over crowed restaurant that looked familiar to many sushi and roll restaurants back home. Seeing as I had just come from the gym and was dripping wet, the host took one look at me and said “take out?” I smiled because I had no idea how they knew!


I graciously took the menu and to some relief there were pictures, some English and absolutely no descriptions.

Lucky for me my stomach guided me to a roll called the “Denver” roll. Being my hometown I immediately ordered it.

The first time I had this place I was so happy to find a place close to me that did decent sushi, but what is truly amazing is that it has become a staple in my take out routine.

I have not actually gone there for sit down, but every time I go in there are always friends meeting and dates being had. Its truly laid back and popular with 20-30 something’s.

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I have tried many different rolls and can say that each one has been wonderful. The rice falls apart in your mouth and flavors are blended well. This place is perfect for those who may be new to sushi and would recommend it to anyone looking for a sushi adventure in PNU. Though they do not have the Denver roll any more the Alaska is the perfect substitute.


How to get to there

From the PNU station on the Orange line take exit 1. There will be a busy street right when you get out lined with cell phone stores shops and street food vendors. Go up the street.

This place is about 3 blocks up from there. If you keep walking past the big street (need to go across the cross walk) and then keep going. Up that block on what is known as Chicken and Beer Street. Take a right and it is one of the first shops on your left.  You will see a case in the window with noodles and sushi. 

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Feb 022012
Rock band in Kyungsung, Busan - by Patrick Mowat

photo by Patrick Mowat


Do you like live music? I know I do. At the age of 19 I thought I would be the world’s next Lester Bangs and spread the word about the revolutionary music scene in Sydney. Well, there was pretty good music but calling it a scene was pretty laughable. There were just a bunch of guys and girls…in bands…who played at certain places more often than not. And then I kept on running into the same people and realised that was a ‘scene’. So, I guess a ‘music scene’ is just knowing where bands play more often than not and then just passing the word around. So, I was a little bummed about the ‘Busan Music scene’ when I got here because I just couldn’t figure out where to start. Local paper? Can’t read it. Internet? Doesn’t really seem to have what I need. So, here’s just a few notes about where bands play more than not, and you can check out some live music.

Generally, Busan isn’t a stop on a world tour. Seoul sometimes is, and gigs are listed on international English pages such as Last FM (select location as Korea, Republic of). I haven’t had much luck buying tickets on the Internet for gigs, but if you have a Korean friend translate for you, they can probably buy some tickets on their smartphone in three clicks.

Rock band in Kyungsung, Busan - by Patrick Mowat

photo by Patrick Mowat

But back to Busan. I like more indie music so I’ve really enjoyed being friends with DIY Busan Live on Facebook who tour mainly American acts around Korea. They’re the sort of bands playing festivals around the world so you get to see them at a more intimate venue, and some street cred from your hipster friends. (For example, ‘oh yeah, I saw them in a really small venue in Busan’) The main ‘music scene’ in Busan is expats who just happen to like playing music and are motivated to form groups and perform for our amusement, centering on the nightlife districts of Kyungsung and PNU.


Ol’55 in Kyungsung has a very popular open mike night on Wednesdays and the calibre of talent is pretty impressive. And of course there is Vinyl Underground, also in Kyungsung, which has live music several nights a week. I think Vinyl updates their events on Busan Haps more often than their Facebook page, so the best way keep in touch is to check out the Busan Haps event listings. Korean and foreign bands play here, good idea to just check out what’s on. (CLICK TO JUMP TO MAPS)

Dan Deacon at Vinyl Underground, Kyungsung, Busan

Dan Deacon at Vinyl Underground


Crossroads hosts another open mike night every Thursday. Another venue which has both Korean and English-singing bands in the Basement in PNU. You can keep up to date with what’s coming up on their Facebook page. (CLICK TO JUMP TO MAPS)

Rock band in Kyungsung, Busan - by Patrick Mowat

photo by Patrick Mowat

Keeping in touch

Busan Haps has a very detailed Music Events page with all sorts of fancy links to keep you in the loop. I would start there for a search and then go to the individual bar Facebook pages or websites for more detailed information. But then, most shows I’ve found out just by keeping my eyes open and seeing a poster somewhere. Low fi, but it works! If you’d like to see more Korean musicians, start with this method and then have a talk to the guys that work at the venues on their favourite bands.

As an aside I have to say that I caught Dan Deacon at Vinyl Underground recently. It was an amazingly small show with an enthusiastic crowd that Dan was able to work until we were all dancing our booties off. You’d think he was an English teacher or summer camp counsellor the way he was able to pull off some group games with just the right amount of enthusiasm. I managed to get a Busan! Awesome! exclusive when he told me that “the beach here seems really cool. I just got here from Tokyo and it seems a world away.” Aint that something!

Also, my music tastes tend to begin and end with guitars, so if you would like to write an article about a different music scene, we’d love to hear it!! Also, any tips and hints would be appreciated for this article.



View Busan (Awesome) Music Scene in a larger map


View Busan (Awesome) Music Scene in a larger map

Rock band in Kyungsung, Busan - by Patrick Mowat

photo by Patrick Mowat