Most people who know me would tell you I value a lazy Saturday or Sunday Funday full of sparkling conversation over a fantastic brunch, bubbles included (of course!). In Busan, a traditional Eggs Benedict isn’t exactly tough to find, but one that’s done well certainly can be.
My first eggsperience was at an establishment in Gwangan which shall remain unnamed. Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to perfectly poach an egg, and when I cut into my benny the egg whites were still clear in the middle. After that startling experience, and the often (but not always!) lackluster continuation of getting salad at brunch spots (for fear of cold or uncooked eggs), I was told about Haeundae Smokehouse. I had heard about it before, but having seen some photos on their Facebook page and after my friend said she had had “The Best Brunch in Busan” (even with a 2 hour wait for food!), I knew I had to check it out.
Haeundae Smokehouse in Pale de CZ isn’t tough to find if you know what you’re looking for, but sadly…we didn’t. The Facebook page uses here.com which doesn’t work well on mobile phones and doesn’t seem to recognize any of the streets in Busan. We ended up asking for directions and were told that we literally had just passed it. Click on the Google Map photo I’ve included or this link for directions. The restaurant ambiance is comfortable and quaint – it’s a tiny restaurant, but they’ve managed to squeeze quite a few seats in. One of the owners is also a florist, so the decor is very tasteful and modern. Sitting at the bar isn’t a problem – there’s plenty of table space and the stools are noticeably comfortable.
We had been warned prior to our arrival (again – via their active Facebook page) that they were just working out the kinks of brunch service. I expected the food to be slow, but didn’t expect to be sitting at a bar drinking mimosas and being fed nibbles of corn bread, pulled pork, fresh mini rolls, and fruit salad before our vegetarian brunch dishes would arrive (uhh…score!). In that time, we were able to chat with the owners (who have a wicked sense of hospitality – I’m not sure they knew they’d get so popular so fast!) and taste the aforementioned items. They have a nice selection of Whisk(e)ys so I, of course, had my first Bulleit Bourbon in over 10 months and was a happy camper, indeed!
The fruit salad was a refreshing mix of pineapple wedges, apple slices, and pomegranate seeds – a welcome addition (loved the crunch factor). The mini rolls were pretty standard, and the cornbread was a tiny bit on the dry side. Since butter isn’t exactly up to Western standards here in our wonderful beach town, I’ll give that one a pass. As a side on a dinner entree I think it probably would have soaked up jus or gravy quite well.
You should come here for the pulled pork, if nothing else. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Pulled Pork became a menu fad in 2008/2009 and has since been a trend at restaurants trying to keep it “hip and fresh” ever since. This is not the case at Haeundae Smokehouse. They have really put the “low and slow” mantra to good use. If their brisket is anything like their pulled pork, then even though Pale de Cz is over an hour away from Hwamyeong, this might end up being my new weekend haunt. Heck – I might come here for dinner if I can leave work early enough! The meat has been seasoned to perfection, and the melt in your mouth pieces are tender and juicy. I would have loved to have seen a Pulled Pork Benny on the menu, or even the option to add it as a side to the Eggs Florentine I ordered.
The Eggs Florentine: I have never had such delightful creamed spinach in all my life. The secret is in the Camembert cream and the fact that everything is made in house from fresh ingredients (no frozen spinach here!). With plenty of garlic and onion I was a happy camper. Hey, I had zero make-out plans…what did I care? The poached eggs were whipped which created a bit of a hard outer layer I wasn’t 100% into as I like my poached eggs pretty classic. Everyone else I know who has tried them says they’ll never be able to go back to regular, unwhipped! They were each served on top of a hashbrown, which I thought was an interesting choice considering the side of homefries. I personally would have preferred a lightly toasted English muffin, but again – we’re in Busan. Has anyone even seen English muffins here?
Sam (Expat and the City) opted for the classic Eggs Benedict, which actually weren’t all that classic at all since again, the whipped, poached eggs were served on hashbrowns, and caramelized onions (a TON of them) replaced the traditional ham or bacon. She enjoyed her meal, but I think I had the winner as their Camembert creamed spinach was unbelievable. Who knew I could ever find an improvement on Hollandaise sauce?
I always go into brunch thinking I’m going to try something different and get the sweet option. It never changes. I always end up going the savory route. While Haeundae Smokehouse has a scrumptious-sounding French Toast (with Bailey’s, whipped cream, and maple syrup), “The Mish Mash” sounds more my jam. With sausage, brisket, potatoes, mish-mashed with scrambled eggs and Hollandaise sauce (can we swap that out for the spinach? *bats eyes awkwardly*), if this heart-attack on a plate lasts through their brunch test phase you know what I’ll be ordering.
All items on the current brunch test menu are KRW 12,000, with 2 for 1 mimosas for KRW 6,000. Keep your eyes on their Facebook page for notifications on their KRW 16,000 bottomless mimosas, and plan accordingly!
Their hours are listed on Facebook as Tue-Sun: 3:00 pm – 12:00 pm, however on site they have listed Brunch from 11 AM – 3 PM, Happy Hour (or a break as was needed once that Sunday brunch rush had ended!) from 3 PM – 6 PM, Dinner from 6 PM – 9 PM, and finally Late Nite from 9 PM until 12 AM. What does “Late Nite” entail? You’ll have to wait and see…