This review is about my dining experience at Dosan Bunsik in Seoul. Retro and trendy elements were worth a go, although waiting could have been a nightmare as a part of the experience. If you’re up for a stylish snippet of older times of the country, keep reading!
It was a sunny morning, bit late to have breakfast and early for lunch, when my friend and I had brunch in the 1970s~1990s of Seoul. My friend had had this place in her wish list for a long time, and it was a good day & time to try. When I searched this Korean restaurant on the internet for information, we realised we had to take it seriously to be served at Dosan Bunsik (도산 분식). As a new yet already highly successful eating place, there were a lot of reviews online, all of which mentioned a long queue! With lots of expectation, therefore, we decided to meet up at the restaurant 20 minutes before the opening time.
What is this place about?
Since its opening on 27 March this year, Dosan Bunsik has already got its reputation. It was like a must-try place among the locals in Seoul, especially young couples and friend groups. Even though it hadn’t been over a month since its launch (my visit was in April haha), seriously long queues were before me from the early morning.
To add a note, this restaurant shares the owner with a highly successful bakery & dining brand ‘Our’, which is one of my favourites for milk tea and desserts. I think this is another reason why Dosan Bunsik became so popular under the short period.
Dosan Bunsik has a slogan of ‘New Bunsik Wave’, and you will be able to find why and how from the continuing review below. Bunsik, by the way, means a type of street food/snacky meal a lot of Koreans have, especially after school as teenagers. Typical examples include tteokbokki and sundae (pronounced as soon-dae),
Donsan Bunsik is in the Cheongdam area, known as one of the expensive places in Gangnam (south of the Han river). It can be a bit tricky to go without a car or being familiar with buses. I was dropped off by car on the way and used a bus afterwards. On the main road side of the same block was a Shake Shack branch and you can see this restaurant. It’ll be easy to find thanks to a lot of people waiting outside. (Note: Dosan Bunsik opened its 2nd branch in Garosu-gil in August!)
As I said, we planned to meet 20 minutes before it opened; we could have waited much longer had we been just a few minutes late. As my friend arrived before me she joined the existing queue. Fortunately, we were the last customers who got a table as the restaurant’s first round! It could have been another 50 minute-long waiting on top of 20 minutes of queueing we had already spent. Lots of young couples and ladies were the main visitors.
Tip: be there at least 20~30 minutes before opening to be served at the very first round.
The restaurant was full of cool retro, which reminded us of pre-2000s Bunsik places. Water bottles and plates were carefully chosen to create that look and feel, and white tiles were used on the walls. It had its restaurant name on a neon sign, which is currently a popular decoration to have in Korea.
While its interior was cool reminiscence of old-fashioned Korean eateries (but in the swish design as the modern interpretation of it), the staffs reminded me of being in a Japanese ramen store. When customers entered the place and out, the staff members, all guys, spoke out loud “welcome” and “thank you, come again”, of which the style sounded like the Japanese equivalent. It was an interesting combination indeed.
So, what did two of us order? The review my friend read before we went to Dosan Bunsik recommended to order more than the number of people visiting, as it was street food after all. This normally meant the portion would be far from substantial. We happily followed the trick as we were replacing our breakfast & lunch with this one go. Our careful choices of 4 dishes were as follows:
- Katsu sandwich (9,800 krw)
- Tteok-bokki (6,500 krw)
- Kimchi fried rice (9,500 krw)
- Hong Kong-style French toast (6,500 krw)
Oh wow, it was full! I mean, yes, we ordered A LOT of dishes based on other reviews, but we overlooked all those high calories…????. They were decent, including one of the restaurant’s signature dishes, Katsu sandwich. The balance of the spicy dishes and meaty choices worked well.
Although Dosan Bunsik’s menu & the atmosphere belongs to Korean street food, their take on it is actually much closer to delicacies. This means the price range is not what we typically imagine for street food. It definitely includes the ‘cool-things-to-do-in-Seoul’ experience with loads of Instagrammable elements. If you’re not fussed about the next level of street food and are happy to settle in the traditional style, you may say “Meh, it’s alright”.
To sum up, it was a satisfactory experience in general! I was glad that I tried it with special thanks to my friend who was eager to come here. Cool vibe, tasty food and neat interior design were all great. I would love to come back again if only it wasn’t so popular already though. We lucky girls got to try it without waiting too long, but it could have been a completely different narrative!
I would recommend Dosan Bunsik to those who are foodies, active on Instagram, or interested in catching up with trendy ‘waves’. But if you’re only intrigued by after-school street food, there are numerous alternatives under a much more reasonable budget.
Dosan Bunsik (도산 분식)
- Address: 10-6, Dosan-daero 49-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (서울 강남구 도산대로49길 10-6)
- Tel: (+82) (0)2-514-5060
- Opening Hours: every day 11:30am~8:30pm (last order: 2:30pm for lunch & 8:00pm for dinner; break time: 3:00pm~5:30pm)
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