터화담 (To Hwa Dam)

Busan Food: 터화담

Finding myself with a quiet Saturday evening without plans, I began to drag something new and exciting. Usually, with me, that means trying out a new restaurant. A quick bit of research led to me discovering 터화담, a Korean fusion restaurant in Oncheonjang. It was time for a visit! 

First impressions were excellent. Situated a couple of minutes away from Oncheonjang subway station the restaurant finds itself occupying a little oasis of calm in the middle of the busy city. Right in front there is a small stand of trees, and a delightful fountain giving off the wonderful background noise of tinkling water. It’s a lovely spot.

The interior is also extremely well thought out. Huge, floor to ceiling Windows provide oodles of natural light, and the heavy, classy dark wood furniture is offset by bright, colourful art on the walls. The owner was extremely proud to tell us that all the work comes from local artists. I thought this was a nice touch. 

We were sat down and offered menus. The food is a fascinating mixture of classic Korean, classic Mediterranean, and some delicious sounding fusion dishes. We had to try the ‘no flour vegetable pasta’ which is a dish resembling pasta, made only from fresh thinly sliced vegetables. The owner was proud to announce that there is no MSG used, infedients are local where possible, and as fresh as they can be, with all their sauces coming from a famous Korean monastery who specialise in Korean sauces. The owner is a knowledgable man, who is clearly deeply passionate about his food, wine, and his restaurant. He also clearly runs a tight ship, as the restaurant was spotless and the staff extremely well turned out. Whilst I was waiting for the food I had the chance to visit the kitchen. Two young chefs worked at food with both commitment and a deft touch. All in all I found 터화담 to huge an excellent first impression, both smart and relaxing. 

The food arrived in short order. First we were treated to Bossam, a classic Korean dish of steamed pork, served simply with pickled vegtables and traditional sauces. The meat was excellent. Tender, juicy and exceptionally flavorsome, with slightly spicy and sharp sauces to offset the richness of the pork. It was also an exceptionally generous portion, and coming in at ₩30,000  is reasonable in my opinion. 

Next out was the salmon and grapefruit salad. This was a simple dish that relied on the quality of its ingredients to work. Fresh, glassy, well prepared salmon sashimi, thinly sliced, pungent grapefruit, and a generous sprinkle of pickled capers. Simple, and yet so fresh and well prepared that it really popped in your mouth. We finished it off in short order. The owner assured us the salmon came from Norway, and was of the highest quality. At ₩23,000 it isn’t a cheap dish, but it is delicious and I would highly reccomend it to any fan of sashimi. 

Lastly we had the no-flour vegetable pasta. This was a stand-out performer. Razor thin slices tofu, courgette, aubergine and mushrooms were blended with a smooth, rich, spinach pesto sauce. It was tasty, comforting, and absolutely delicious. The highlight for me were beautiful little sunblush tomatoes (which I adore) hidden away amongst the vegetables like little rubies waiting to be discovered. 

Accompanying the meal were a selection of leaves deep fried in tempura batter. These gave a quite splendidly loud crunch when bitten into, and provided a nice saltiness to boot. We also had a bottle of a Chilean Rose wine. It was cold, crisp and fresh. I’m not a huge fan of rose wine but my fiancé adores it and enjoyed it thoroughly. 

The owner owns a business importing wine, see here for more information, and also some information on the restaurant. His knowledge is quite extraordinary. Having been on a few wine making courses myself in South America we got to chatting about the benefits of wine from that region. I was pleased to discover the restaurant stocks a large amount of South American wine, as the owner believes it offers a good balance between value and quality. He really is a fount of knowledge regarding wine and would be happy to answer any questions you have. 

We left 터화담 feeling extremely well satisfied. The menu is a little pricey, but the portions are big and the quality of the food excellent. As well, the owner is knowledgeable and approachable and his staff extremely smart and attentive. I think Korean fusion food will be a big player on the local scene in the next few years. Expect 터화담 to be leading the charge.

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Photo 6-25-16, 19 05 41 Photo 6-25-16, 19 05 44 Photo 6-25-16, 19 08 40 Photo 6-25-16, 19 18 27 Photo 6-25-16, 19 35 18 Photo 6-25-16, 19 38 51 Photo 6-25-16, 19 39 10 Photo 6-25-16, 18 02 48 Photo 6-25-16, 18 02 51 Photo 6-25-16, 18 02 57 Photo 6-25-16, 18 04 08 Photo 6-25-16, 18 17 52 

Directions: 

Come out of Oncheonjang station exit one and cross the road. Go left and take the first right around some buildings. Take the first right and continue for 200 metres or so. The restaurant is located in a little square, next to a stand of trees and a fountain. They are your best bet to look out for! 

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