When the great-grandmother of the current owner’s husband opened a small pajeon place in Dongnae Market in the 1930s, the history of Dongnae Halmae Pajeon began. There were lots of green onion patches around Geumjeongsan and people mixed fresh seafood with the green onions to make pajeon, a Korean-style fried pancake. People started to call it Dongnae pajeon.
The restaurant had moved a few times with different names before it finally settled at its current location and name now in the 1970s.
Dongnae Halmae Pajeon is one of the very few restaurants still around that have kept the traditional cuisine and original recipe for Dongnae pajeon.
Despite its long history, the restaurant was rebuilt in 2006 offering comfortable lighting with a welcoming modern and traditional interior while using Korean-style dishes and cutlery which makes diners feel nostalgic for simpler times.
They offer a variety of dishes including deodeok gui, a grilled bonnet bellflower root for 20,000 won (in the middle of the photo above), golbaengi-muchim, a spicy seasoned sea snail for 20,000 won, dolsot-bibimbap, hot stone pot bibimbap served with soup for 9,000 won (at the bottom of the photo above), and chueotang, loach soup with rice which costs 9,000 won.
However, Dongnae pajeon is the must try at this restaurant. It’s a little pricey at 20,000 won to 40,000 won by size, but when pairing with dongdongju for 7,000 won or with makgeolli for 5,000 won, it’s definitely worth the price. It was astonishing when I first tried it because I, like any other person, was used to the more well-known crunchy version of pajeon.
Using sticky rice powder as an ingredient and covering the pan at the end to permeate all the ingredients are what makes the real Dongnae pajeon. It is not that crunchy and the inside is almost like porridge. Another special characteristic of Dongnae pajeon is the sauce; red pepper paste mixed with vinegar, not soy bean sauce.
You can also choose from two course meals which range from 30,0000 won to 35,000 won per person if you’re in a larger group and feeling peckish.
It was a little difficult to find this place, but if you find Dongnae-gu Office then you are almost there. While it is out of the way from the main road, there are two main gates and the one in the photo above is the back gate. It’s a bit of an effort to find, but well-worth it when you do.
There are a few rooms for groups on the second floor. Reservations are recommended and take out is possible. Parking is available at the Dongnae-gu Office parking lot.
Dongnae Halmae Pajeon (동래 할매 파전)
Open: noon – 10 p.m. Daily (Closed Monday’s, Seollal and Chuseok)
Address: 43-10, Myeongnyun-ro 94beongil, Dongnae-gu, Busan