I found out about Dongnaehalmae Pajeon from the Busan Tourism website and a video by BadaTV. Being a foodie, it was one of the reasons which brought me to Busan on my trip to Korea.
The anticipation was very high as I and my friend took a walk from the Dongnae subway station to the restaurant. The restaurant was not easy to find but we persevered because we trusted that our sumptuous and delicious reward was awaiting us.
We were the only customers as we had reached the restaurant at 3pm. We asked the staff in English for the most popular dishes to order. However, we were disappointed with the recommendations by the senior staff (assumed to be the case due to her different hanbok uniform and ability to speak fairly good English) and we were appalled by the fact that the house special Dongnae pancake was burnt on one side and was hard to swallow due to the burnt taste. We had to pull out the burnt bits and eat the remainder.
The other dish that the senior staff recommended was the Yakcho Jeonbyung Muchim. Now this is where it got misrepresented by the menu description: "healthy vegetable and pancake salad". When the dish arrived, we had quite a shock when we discovered what it was. It was smoked duck slices with sticky pancake pieces and shredded salad greens; all in a savory sauce - the dish was cold. We were totally not expecting this and the dish was far from the description in the menu. In the end, we wanted hot food, so we ordered a bibimbap to share. Which was rather expensive at 8000 won for a normal bibimbap that was nothing to rave about.
We looked around at other people eating in the restaurant and saw people eating the pajeon only. The locals ordered pajeon and alcohol and another couple ordered a steaming hot loach soup, which looked delicious by the way they were eating it.
Our meal initially came with 6 side dishes, after ordering our bibimbap they brought in another different set of 4 side dishes. I'm not sure if that was because they felt it was a necessary gesture because they turned down our request to change the cold dish for something else.
This place is nothing to write home about but if you find yourself in Busan with time to spare then you could try out this place but be sure not to have high expectations, especially if you are an Asian foodie with epicurean tastebuds. But overall, serving burnt food is an absolute turn off and should not be tolerated in a restaurant which prides itself on decades of tradition and popularity.
The menu could include visual pictures of the food to avoid misrepresentation. Having translations in Japanese, Chinese and English on the menu is not as good as a pictorial representation.
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