Eochanbada: A Spicy Taste of the Sea in Gaya, Busan
Situated near the Gaya Fire House on Gaya-daero, Eochanbada is very popular for its signature ‘big octopus haemuljjim‘, a braised spicy seafood with vegetables.
Established last year, Eochanbada is relatively cozy-sized with around ten tables with seating on the floor only, and the clean and simple wood-based interior is lovely with a Korean Hanok touch.
Our meal began with freshly made side dishes which were quite tasty, and especially the Korean-style celery pickle was the standout; the combination of the unique taste and texture of the healthy celery and the vinegar with soy sauce was refreshing and light.
As haemulljjim is quite a versatile dish, there are usually some octopus, cuttlefish, or other seafood slices, so sometimes you are not sure which is which. Here, however, is unique by adding the whole octopus and cuttlefish.
The seasoning was perfect — tangy and sweet but not salty. As I tend to eat at healthier restaurants, I was pleasantly surprised that I did not taste MSG, so I asked the owner who replied that they “try to use fresh ingredients for a better quality taste with the least possible MSG to balance the flavor.”
The seafood, especially the octopus and cuttlefish, were very soft and fresh. The accompanying seasoned, crunchy bean sprouts added a nice texture when eaten together.
There are two sizes for their haamuljjim; jung, their medium sized portion for 50,000 won, and dae, or large, for 55,000 won.
There are three levels of spiciness; sunhanmat (mild), botongmat (regular), and maeunmat (spicy). For regular Koreans, maeunmat can be very spicy, however I tried the botongnat was not over the top, but still had a nice kick to it.
Eochanbada’s haemuljjim is made to order so it takes some time, though not quite long, to be served. It usually comes with miyeokguk or seaweed soup, or a cold seaweed soup during the hot summer months.
You can order rice for 1,000 won a bowl, or a choice of noodle dishes — gamja sari or ramyeon sari — for 2,000 won per portion to mix with haemuljjim, which is a great way to soak up the additional sauce on the plate.
Standard Korean alcohol and soda are available from 1,500 won to 10,000 won.
Eochanbada has recently been looking to franchise, so locations may be popping up around the city soon.
Take out is available for an extra 500 won surcharge and the restaurant gets busy during lunch and dinner time.
Open: 11:00 – 22:00 daily (except every first and third Mondays and Chuseok and Seollal)
Address: 1F, Crevill Pomine O/T, Gaya-daero 623, Busanjin-gu, Busan