{ busan } suminine // 수민이네

10:21 AM sians 0 Comments

we stared intently down the slightly busy main street. one bus approached but we quickly shifted our attention to another one coming down the road as we realized it was not the right bus number.

we sighed as we looked at our watches. 

"8:30 pm"

we were starving after a spending four hours at the spaland and now we had the dilemma of either taking a cab or to wait for bus that may not even come to get to our dinner spot in haeundae. 

after a few busses whizzed past us (they weren't the right ones either), we took a chance with my shaky korean and asked one of the taxi drivers who were parked in the taxi line if he knew how to get to su-min-i-ne

after a few seconds of hand gesturing, we were driving through the inner narrow lanes of dimly lit housing areas. i was beginning to worry that he may have misunderstood my korean but i breathed a sigh of relief when we saw the brightly lit signs of that read SUMININE on one and 수민이네 on the other.

we took refuge inside the restaurant from the chilly evening, occupying one of the round metal tables instead of picking out a tent outside. we hung our coats on our own plastic chairs and took a quick glance around the brightly lit restaurant that was lined with windows. realizing we were surrounded by mostly local diners who were pairing their grilled seafood dinners with local beer, we thrilled that we may have found a real food gem in busan.

thinking how i'd order without a menu, it was a huge relief when our order was taken in english. the owner had brought out a plateful of scallops, clams and mussels as a sample as we picked out all but the mussels (my dining companion didn't care too much for them) for two and a half order of fresh eel to be grilled. 

several minutes later as we cozied into our seats, the cook brought out the hot grill, nestled it in the middle of the table and began to place the half shells over the the open fire. a feeling on anticipation and excitement grew like the flame but slowly a mild disappointment started to set in when he removed the clams and scallops from their half shell and combined them in a aluminum foil bowl placed over the open fire grill.

firstly, it felt like i was on a camping trip, albeit just for a moment.

secondly, "but..whyyyyyy?"

it was unexpected but the umami of the first clam had quickly quieten my concerns. a tent could have been set up around our metal table and a sign that reads 'flavor concentration booth' pegged all around us - because that was exactly what each bite was. the natural sweetness was accentuated by merely nudging it in the right direction with the addition of aromatics. the most intense flavors concentrated in the broth - the freshness of the shellfish did all the heavy lifting where my favorite flavors of the mild brine notes against the sweet scallops had concentrated in the broth.

i had unintentionally stared as one waitstaff made her way to the next table carrying a huge pot of steaming korean ramen soup before i glanced expectantly over at my dining companions; i chuckled slightly when i realized they were doing the same.

"라면 하나 주세요!" i asked the wait staff who repeated my one order of ramyeon, looking at me briefly, with a small smile before saying "한국어 잘했어요" ("you are doing well with the korean language") to which i smiled and nervously responded that i only knew very little.

still beaming, i shifted my attention to the grilled eel on my plate.

unseasoned, i picked up a piece of the fish with my chopsticks, still warm and slightly charred from the grill, dipped generously into the bean paste before wrapping it in the shiso leaf. crispy burnt edges against the meaty texture of the very fresh fish. 

it didn't quite leave as lasting of an impression like the scallops and clams did; the tiny bones of the eel didn't help either. we were left wanting more of the shellfish and i was the first to volunteer when the broth left in the aluminum bowl was up for grabs.

i'd be lying if i said i didn't consider licking the bowl...

instant korean noodles may not be the favorite to some, but i am a fan of the ramyeon ( so are my other dining companions). at 2,000 won, we appreciated the warmth that filled the belly, great way to finish our meal on a chilly fall night.

with 2,000 won for the ramyeon adds to a total of 52,000 won for the complete meal of the freshest grilled sweet shellfish and eel, a reasonable price tag.

i had a chance to speak to the owner very briefly as he had been so nice and accommodating to call for a cab for us to get back to the closest subway station. i had been so curious about why he spoke english fluently and also learned that the restaurant was named after him.

tldr // it was my most anticipated meal throughout my trip that i was looking forward the most and it surpassed my expectation. the grilled shellfish is a must that we are still raving about and even wished we had ordered more. after leaving behind a memory of transient happiness through its flavors, the question to ask here is not whether suminine is a mandatory food destination in busan, but instead, who will be the lucky one to call dibs on the last drops of the shellfish broth :)

cheongsapo suminine {수민이네} | location 
118 cheongsapo-ro  58 beon-gil,
jung 2(i)-dong,
haeundae, busan
south korea

//부산광역시 해운대구 청사포로58번길 118
{opens daily: 12pm- 7am}

disclaimer this is written based on personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others.