Residents of the Kyungsung area in search of a different kind of food are thrilled that they don’t have to go up to Tres Bon near Gwangalli beach or Merciel on Dalmaji anymore. May 2014 saw the opening of Le Jardin in addition to those. Yes, it is located in an alley like practically every other French place in the country, but also like them it is worth finding. In common with Dal Mi Cocco, the restaurant that serves some French food in PNU, Le Jardin is operated by a Franco-Korean couple, with the difference that it’s the French husband who does the cooking.
In fact, Breton chef Guillaume Strub prefers to do all the cooking in his open kitchen while his wife Shim Seonhyeon runs the business end of their enterprise. A native of Busan, Seonhyeon majored in accounting when she entered university, but after a couple of months working in an accounting office she disliked it and decided to travel. She joined the International Volunteer Service and was sent to France, where she found the culture she loved and determined to learn its language. Back in Korea, she changed her major to French and was able to study it in Nancy and Rennes as well. After she married Guillaume in 2005, they spent a year in Australia before working at an Accor Hotel in Korea and the Daegu Novotel up till 2014. There was an article about Le Jardin when it opened in the Busan Ilbo, so the place began getting quite a lot of custom from both Koreans and foreigners right away.
Yet another thing that Le Jardin has in common with most other Korean French restaurants is its small menu, although it has been enlarged to include about a dozen main dishes. The best thing about all these items is that they are the cheapest French eats in town. The most expensive, and filling, items are the hachis parmentier for 13,500 won and the tartiflette for 14,000. Next is the stuffed tomato (tomate farcie) for 12,000. Other mains are quiche, house sausages, chicken tourte, which is a pot pie made with leeks, and tarte provencale, a tomato and squash pie which I tried on my first visit. These are all under 10,000 won. Le Jardin’s portions are filling, and there is no pasta or pizza. For 30-36,000 won, there is the menu du jour, which is changed almost daily and offers two choices for the main course. Four French red wines and two whites are available by the bottle for 35-78,000, with house red and white by the glass for 7,000; there are several good beers, including Queen’s ale and Leffe, with Hoegaarden on tap. The music is French easy listening or pop.
With Tres Bon and Merciel serving French food since 2012 and Dal Mi Cocco and Ici Lounge serving some French dishes, too, Le Jardin consolidates Busan as a city with some real French dining options. Equally exciting are the recent opening of Maitre Artisan, a bakery run by another Franco-Korean couple in Namcheon, and La Pause Crepe, also run by a Frenchman with his Korean wife, in Kyungsung. Finally, there is now the Living Room in the Park Hyatt in Marine City, Busan’s newest French restaurant—and it is not hard to find! Although still way behind Seoul, Busanites can nevertheless hold their heads up now.
Take line 2 to Kyungsung exit 5, turn 180 degrees left at street level and go 20 meters to the corner. Turn right and head straight 360 paces. At the blue Dal Dal Ice Cream sign across the street from Pukyung University, turn right into the alley and see a coffee shop sign straight ahead. Le Jardin is on the right across from it. Hours 1130 am-1130 pm. Seonhyeon’s mobile is 010-5501-0937, and the land line is 051-611-0937. Address Yongso-ro 34 beon gil 6-2, Namgu. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, www.facebook.com/lejardinbusan. Je vous en prie.