Day 1: Some photos taken yesterday at Busan Super (short for supermarket) while the emo was preparing kimchi for dine-in and delivery service. After being hand-fed a piece of kimchi to see if it was seasoned properly, a thought crossed my mind: maybe the appeal of Korean cuisine lies not in the food itself, but rather the communal preparation and consumption of the food with family and loved ones. Shortly after, it was heartwarming to see so many locals coming out of the woods to make sure if it was also seasoned properly.
Day 2: “We had no intention of opening a restaurant until things got really bad. When we first opened up this convenient store 20+ years ago, there were very little chain stores and they surely didn’t waste time in smaller neighborhoods like ours. But now they’re everywhere—our neighborhood alone has at least five or six chain convenient stores (e.g. CU, GS25, 7-11) and counting. Once they settled into our quiet neighborhood, there were some days we didn’t sell a single item. Including cigarettes and alcohol. Those were stressful and desperate times for all of us, but I had to do something to take care of my family. That’s when I started making kimbap on the side. I am not a professional cook nor have I taken any cooking lessons, but my handmade kimbap appealed to the locals and word began spreading. And so did the kimbap options. Eventually, selling kimbap became more profitable than the shop and that’s when we opened a dine-in area for customers. We currently have a full-fledged menu but, in a nutshell, it’s the kimbap that literally saved our lives.”
Day 3: “I’ve been to quite a few gamaek jip 가맥집, but yours is hands-down the best in terms of food quality, taste, and pricing. Everything from the donkkaseu (pork cutlet) to the bokkeum varieties (spicy stir fries) and, of course, your kimbap options are refreshingly different and new. Plus, I’ve never seen anyone use a sushi knife to cut kimbap before—a genius way to keep its shape without having to brush on sesame oil every time.”
“I got the knife as a gift, so I can’t take credit for that, but I do try to cook each dish as best as I can. Which is why I tenderize the pork cutlets with kiwi to help them stay tender and moist even after deep frying. Then I serve them with a healthier housemade sauce that includes bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Customers usually end up choosing donkkaseu if they don’t order our popular combination of kimbap and ramen. The spicy bokkeum varieties are aimed at drinkers looking for delicious yet filling sool anju 술안주 (food served with alcohol). The menu has grown over the years, but one thing that hasn’t changed much is the cost. Since overhead is low compared to normal restaurants and drinking establishments, we are able to keep prices low and affordable, which is the main appeal of a true gamaek jip. If you’re familiar with the TV documentary series called “Around the Block w Kim Young Cheol” 김영철의동네한바퀴 we’ll be featured in the upcoming episode where I describe the hardship of our early years.”
Note: A gamaek jip (“shop beer house”) is a convenient store that allows eating and drinking on the premises, a growing food trend that began in the city of Jeonju—the birthplace of bibimbap and other culinary delights. Most commonly serving dried snacks in the form of fish, seafood, and jerky, some shops with available kitchen space prepare meals on-site as an additional source of income.
Food: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
Service: ★★★★½ out of 5 stars
Ambiance: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
Value: ★★★★½ out of 5 stars
Busan Super 부산슈퍼
Address: 270-42 Jeonnong-dong Dongdaemun-gu (동대문구 전농동 270-42)
Hours: Open every day 11:00 am – midnight
Click here for an interactive map: http://naver.me/GfavJxAv