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  4. Taking the Train to Busan from Seoul? Here’s How To Eat and Drink Your Way Through South Korea

Taking the Train to Busan from Seoul? Here’s How To Eat and Drink Your Way Through South Korea

June 7, 2024

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Note: This article has been republished with permission from Broadsheet

Craving a trip to South Korea? In partnership with Korea Tourism Organization, T'way Air and Sydney Airport, let us tempt you further.

Although Train to Busan is an excellent zombie apocalypse movie, the actual train to Busan is an equally thrilling – and far more delicious – proposition. On either side of this rail link, which connects South Korea’s two largest cities, you’ll find excellent eating and drinking.

Up north lies Seoul, the home of hallyu (the Korean Wave, a concept which refers to the global popularity of Korean culture). From K-pop to fashion, the capital city’s tastemakers and cultural curators have helped turn South Korea into the pop culture juggernaut it is today. And lately their attention has been turned towards showcasing the breadth and depth of Korean cuisine. Down south, Busan is home to South Korea’s largest port, nestled amid lush green mountains – making it a natural food and drink hub. So whether you’re going north-to-south or south-to-north, here’s how to eat and drink your way through South Korea.


Born & Bred

Majang Livestock Products Market

If you’re after topnotch Korean barbeque, there’s no better place to look than near Seoul’s largest meat market, Majang Meat Market. It’s there that you’ll find one of the city’s best KBBQs: Born & Bred.

The restaurant celebrates Hanwoo beef, an indigenous cattle breed often compared to Japanese Wagyu. However, unlike Wagyu, which emphasises the unctuousness of the marbled fat, Hanwoo boasts comparatively less fat, offering a beefier taste.

The towering black marbled exterior with bronze finishes gives off a serious-business vibe, yet Born & Bred’s menu also features playful riffs on dishes such as the Philly cheesesteak or the Hanwoo ram-don, made famous by the film Parasite.

Across its four storeys, Born & Bred offers a number of dining options. Choose à la carte to select cuts by weight, ranging from tenderloin to the iron-rich hanger steak. Alternatively, for the most dedicated carnivores, there’s a staggering 18-course Korean set menu in the basement. Here, owner Jung Sang Woon guides diners through 12 cuts of Korea's finest beef, cooked in different ways so that you can savour them all.

1 Majang-ro 42-gil, Seongdong-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Somunnan Gamjatang


Somunnan is one of the busiest restaurants in Seoul’s fashion hub, Seongsu-dong, and it only sells one dish: gamjatang. A bubbling bowl of spicy soup seasoned with fresh chillies, gochugaru (chilli powder), gochujang (chilli paste), perilla leaves, spring onions, garlic, ginger, potatoes, and, of course, pig neck bones and spine.

It’s a hearty, belly-hugging dish that requires a bit of effort and patience, but the payoff is well worth it. As the broth simmers and reduces, the flavours deepen, and there’s a primordial pleasure in poking, picking and sucking every morsel of meat from the bones.

Lines for this soup can wrap around the corner with wait times of over an hour, so it’s best to go outside of typical mealtimes to avoid the crowds. Thankfully, it’s open 24 hours a day.

45 Yeonmujang-gil, Seongdong-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Tosokchon Samgyetang

Samgyetang - Ginseng Chicken Soup

Korean soups range in temperature from boiling hot to ice-cold (sometimes, bowls literally come with ice cubes in them). And the cuisine has a soup for every mood, occasion or ailment. So, while the likes of gamjatang is for fortifying, samgyetang is for remedying any soju-related sins.

Housed in a traditional hanok building, Tosokchon specialises in samgyetang, a nourishing soup. Ingredients include a whole young chicken stuffed with glutinous rice, ginseng, jujubes, pine nuts, chestnuts and other medicinal herbs.

Other than when you’re hungover, samgyetang is traditionally eaten during Sambok – the three dog days of Korean summer. It might seem counterproductive to eat hot soup on a hot day, but the Asian approach to combating heat is to have something even hotter – given this soup has been around for over 100 years, it must be a winning approach.

5 Jahamun-ro 5-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea



For over 50 years, Gaemi-jip has been cooking a Busan local delicacy called nak-gop-sae, a Korean portmanteau representing the spicy crimson casserole’s three hero ingredients: octopus (nakji), tripe (gopchang) and shrimp (saewoo).

Like many Korean dishes, nak-gop-sae is cooked tableside over a flame and requires some self-assembly. The order of preparation can be overwhelming for some, especially with the assortment of complimentary side dishes (banchan) that arrive on your table before you even order. Not to worry, the servers are happy to instruct you to wait for the dish to simmer and prepare your first bowl when it’s ready. This involves ladling some casserole into a steel bowl of rice, then topping it with marinated chives and shredded nori. The result is a delightful combination of textures, ranging from the chewiness of the octopus to the bouncy bite of shrimp and the softness of the intestine. Yum.

73 Sincheon-daero 62beon-gil, Busanjin-gu, Busan, South Korea

Jagalchi Market

Jagalchi Market

Jagalchi is Korea’s largest seafood market. On the outskirts you’ll come across shops with teams of workers sewing together fishing nets alongside groups of women shucking bivalves. Inside, there are rows upon rows of stalls with fish tanks brimming with hundreds of different types of freshly caught seafood, ranging from gargantuan king crabs to hand-sized mussels and all kinds of fish.

If you’re feeling confident, you can pick what you want yourself and take it upstairs to be cooked by the bring-your-own-seafood restaurants. Otherwise, you can leave it up to them by selecting from their own menus, which can include comfort-zone-pushing dishes like live octopus (yes, they do squirm in your mouth and the suckers do indeed still suck) or deliciously crispy charcoal-grilled eel topped with a few slivers of ginger and wrapped in a perilla leaf.

52 Jagalchi Haean-ro, Jung-gu, Busan, South Korea

Yuga Somssi Centum

Dakgalbi - Stir Fried Chicken

Another single-menu-item restaurant, Yuga Somssi specialises in dakgalbi. A spicy stir-fried barbeque chicken dish prepared on a sizzling cast-iron skillet in the centre of the table.

Originally from Chuncheon, where they have a whole street of restaurants dedicated to the dish, dakgalbi is made up of chicken, cabbage, sweet potatoes and tteokbokki (Korean rice cakes) topped with a sweet and spicy gochujang sauce.

Reflecting the country’s growing obsession with cheese (one of the largest importers in the world), the hot tip is to add cheese and rice to the hotplate in order to create one of the most comforting mouthfuls in Korea. The creamy gooeyness of the cheese melts seamlessly into the rich sweet-spicy sauce and tenderness of the grilled chicken.

51 Centum dong-ro, 10beon-gil, Haeundae-gu, Busan, South Korea

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