When in Busan, you must eat seafood since it is known for fresh seafood. Our friend suggested to try Cheongsapo Suminine (수민이네) after Spa Land. It’s located right off the Haeundae Beach, and we decided to cab there since we were too tired to metro. Our cab drivers knew exactly where it was since the restaurant is actually quite famous for their grilled eel and seafood. We went down a windy road, which we thought was a little sketch. If you’re taking the metro here, you would just need to walk down these smaller streets, since there’s no metro close to the beach. I probably wouldn’t advise to do so late at night. Finally, we arrived, and the restaurant wasn’t anything glamorous. From the outside, it looked a bit run down with tarps around since it was a bit rainy that day.
We went inside and realized we were stepping on gravel and pebbles. I would advise not to wear anything too nice or high heels here as you’ll have trouble walking here. Plastic green chairs and metal tables, but still a ton of people. This reminded me of those places in Hong Kong where you can eat fresh seafood. We got there at around 9pm, so the place was only half filled. I hear that during peak hours, you may even need to line up here!
There’s basically only a few items on the menu. 3 types of shellfish, eel, and some side dishes like instant noodle or rice to accompany your seafood. If you’re not into any of this, then this is not the place to be. However, if you love shellfish, you MUST visit this place! I would rate it the best meal I had in South Korea! Anyways, it was pretty funny because we couldn’t communicate with our server, and we weren’t exactly sure what the types of shellfish we were getting. He ended up giving one our friends a tour in the kitchen to show her exactly what it would be. No english names, but we got a gist just by the looks of the shellfish. We started off with 2 servings of the first type of shellfish- scallops. I’m a lover for scallops and I absolutely love getting them in Chinese restaurants. I was excited to see how they would be prepared in Korea! The scallops are seasoned with just a few simple ingredients – butter, onions, and green onions. It also comes with a bowl of enoki mushrooms.
In Korea, they love to wrap their food, whether if it’s seafood or meat. Korean lettuce wraps are called ssam. Here, we have lettuce on the left and shiso on the right. Shiso leaves have a bit of a minty, herby taste to it. You either like it or you don’t. For me, I preferred the good old lettuce.
This is ssamjang, which is a thick, spicy paste that you add to your wrap. It’s basically soy bean paste with gochujang (spicy chili paste). Super addicting!
For 2 servings, it’s actually quite a lot of food. I believe it was 20,000 won for 1 serving of scallops. That’s around CAD$20.
Our server began to place the first round of scallops on the grill. Another thing to note is that while you may see most modern restaurants use gas, or a hot pot type of grill, they use a traditional charcoal grill here. Literally a lump of charcoal which they bring to your table and place into this pothole. Pretty neat! After grilling these scallops on their shells for a few minutes, he then transfers them into the aluminum bowl with enoki mushrooms in it and cuts the scallop into smaller pieces.
Then he takes the shells and places it on top of the aluminum to let it cook. Super interesting and a good use of the shells!
He lifts the shell up, and here we have delicious cooked scallop. So fresh and delicious! Words can’t even describe how good it tasted with those simple ingredients! You can also dip the scallops in this soy sauce which comes with a bit of wasabi. On the side, there were also several small prawns.
He would have two ways to cook the scallop. You can either leave it on the shell, or have it cut up into pieces and cooked with the enoki mushrooms in the tin foil. He then brought us some scallops that had a spicy sauce already on it. Those were pretty delicious too!
This was our server, and pretty much our personal server of the night! He’s the owner’s son and was the only one who knew a bit of English and could communicate with us. It was pretty funny since most people were shown how to cook their food once and then were left to do it on their own, but he ended up serving us the whole night – for 2 whole hours! He would stand next to us and cook the whole time! I guess it was because we looked like we had no idea what we were doing… Much thanks to him and he definitely wins for best service in South Korea!
After our two servings, we were full, but we felt like having a bit more… I mean the two servings were for 5 of us, so we felt like we could have some more. This time, we decided to get the mix of 3 shellfish. This was what most people got anyways. This included the same scallops, but also clams and giant clams. We’ll talk more about these giant clams later on…
Here we have the clams and a spicy scallop. The clams have much more meat compared to the scallops, but are much tougher in my opinion. These clams are also larger than usual. Not the baby clams you normally get at restaurants. We all agreed that we liked the scallops the most since they were less chewy and more tender.
Then came these giant clams… I don’t think the picture shows how large these things are… The shell is the size of your hand! What in the world were these things?! We questioned that the whole time at dinner, yet our server couldn’t give us an English term. After doing some googling, we figured they were just a larger species of clams. We thought they were mussels all along because of their shells, but if you look closely at the meat, it really resembles a clam or oyster. The meat itself was quite a lot too, but we found it extremely chewy! It was too tough to chew. Not a fan of it sadly.
As you can see in the picture, there were also some appetizers that came along, however we didn’t really like them. First, they had a kimchi-like dish, but it wasn’t napa cabbage, but rather a skinny long veggie. I found it a bit odd to taste so I didn’t have anymore. It also came with the Korean green chili peppers and some garlic cloves. Then our server decides to bring us some eel, which is what Suminine is famous for. However, both K and I aren’t huge fans of eel due to the tiny bones. I’m not even sure if we were charged for the eel, but he said it was some special package or some sort. Again, lack of communication. Anyways, since he already began cooking it, it was too rude for us to say no since he had been such a good server.
The grilled eel surprisingly tasted pretty good in the lettuce wrap with the ssamjang spicy sauce. Still, I wasn’t a huge fan of all those tiny bones! I was so worried I would choke on it if I didn’t chew thoroughly.
All in all, Suminine is a must visit if you’re in the Haeundae area! Excellent service even though they lack English skills, but most of all, delicious and fresh seafood! I believe each person paid only around CAD$20 too so it’s not bad at all for the amount of seafood we got! And that was our last night in Busan. We would leave the next morning. Must sees that we missed were the Haeundae Beach and the Gwangali Beach. I hear they are both beautiful, but we had rainy weather most of the time so it wasn’t worthwhile for us to visit.
Address: 595-4, Jung2-dong, Haeundae-gu,Busan,South Korea