BUSAN, South Korea — Busan has seen a few Thai restaurants come and go over the years and much like anything with a foreign label here on the peninsula, the cost of “a taste of Thailand” often carried a premium price. The recently opened Arun Thai in the Nampo Dong area of Busan is pleasantly bucking the trend with great Thai food prepared by native Thai chefs at reasonable prices.
The chefs, Phot Samorkhang and Pinit Sangram both hail from Khon Kaen, located in the Northeast of Thailand in an area famous for its silk. The owners, husband and wife team, Min Kim and his wife Cassie Kim, met the two chefs while working at Thai restaurants in New Zealand. They returned to Busan, Min Kim’s hometown, and got married.
“When I lived in New Zealand I always ate Thai food and thought it was delicious,” recalled Kyung-min. “I searched the Internet when I moved back here and couldn’t find much, so I thought I would open up a restaurant myself.”
The restaurant, which is open for both lunch and dinner (orders are taken until 9:30 pm) was immediately a hit with expats and Koreans alike in what what is a common international adoration for Thai food. The main dishes on the menu range from 9,000 to 13,000 won per dish with good size portions and appetizers running between 4,000 to 6,000 won.
Arun Thai offers most of the traditional selections of Thai food including green, red, yellow and Panang curries. Their som tam (green papaya salad) is a great way to kick off a meal, or to cleanse the palate between courses and the Tom Yum soup is tangy perfection.
There are also a few interesting twists that the chefs Phot and Pinit tailored to the Kiwi appetite while living in New Zealand. One is a yummy appetizer known as “Prawn Toast.” It is basically four slices of a fresh baguette with garlic, a dab of mayonnaise and a large prawn on top.
Cassie said the great thing about having two Thai chefs in the kitchen is that customers can get just about anything they want. “We can do anything you like with the food. If you want it traditional style, or you have a favorite dish that’s not on the menu, we can do whatever you like.”
The excellent service, lovely atmosphere, fresh ingredients and veritable flavors at Arun Thai are well worth the trip to Nampo, and a whole lot cheaper than a round trip flight to BKK.
You can also read a review from Busan Awesome here.
Photos by Ben Weller.