Moon Brooks, (second from left) is your host to some really good Mexican food
BUSAN, South Korea – Busan's newest Mexican restaurant opened this September, and is definitely worth the trip to Jangsan in Haeundae. The brainchild of international restaurateur, chef, and bartender Moon Brooks, 'Hello Kimchi' combines her 20 years of culinary experience in the U.S. with a passion for both authentic and creatively adapted Mexican cuisine.
High quality and fresh ingredients, an open kitchen, bilingual staff, a comprehensive menu, and a full bar are some of the things she feels set her restaurant apart when it comes to finding worthy Mexican food in Busan.
“I really want the customers to enjoy the freshest ingredients, so I put my best effort in to making the food as good as it possible,” said Moon. “Our motto is ‘CFF’, which stands for Clean Fresh and Friendly. We live by that motto.”
Moon's business partner Zinny Bae is responsible for fully 50% of my excitement about Hello Kimchi, with his contribution to the bar's menu of house-made Fresh Fruit Infused Makgeolli Cocktails. These creative beverages are served in a mini-pitcher and are available in 8 to 11 flavors, depending on the season and how early in the evening you arrive. After my first experience with this ingenious beverage, I returned two days later (a little earlier in the evening) to try the flavors I'd previously missed. Although the group I was with enjoyed all of the Makgeolli cocktails they tried, Kiwi, Strawberry, and Pineapple were overwhelmingly voted as the best flavors to start your evening with. For all of you tequila lovers who aren't as into Makgeolli, they make some legit Margaritas as well.
In the land of Kimchi, a name like Hello Kimchi may make you wonder, but I can say with confidence that what they're serving won't. With an entree menu ranging in price from 3,000 to 29,000 won, including Chimichangas, Tacos, Burritos, Enchiladas, Fajitas, Quesadillas, Mexican Pizzas, and Tostadas, finding something nostalgically delicious is easy. There's also homemade house salsa, a dangerously spicy habanero-pepper paste (you think I'm kidding, tough guy? Try it!), sour cream, and fresh guacamole that are always on tap. As a BIG fan of avocado, I highly recommend introducing your taste buds so some of theirs ASAP.
Another plus, for my fellow health nuts, was to hear Moon describe her sensitivity to vegetarian preferences, the use of olive oil in the kitchen, and her commitment to using fresh ingredients.
Despite getting off to a fantastic beginning and already making a name for her food and drinks in the Haeundae area, Moon is determined to make her restaurant stand out, and has recently added several delicious experiments to the menu, including Kimchi burritos, tacos, and quesadillas, as well as her homemade clam chowder, chili, and chicken-corn soup to help her guests cope with the cold weather.
She is continually cycling through new drink specials on weekends, and has also been enjoying the contributions of local musicians such as the Acapella group Dynamic Wave, who entertained dinner guests last week for hours. Hello Kimchi will also soon be launching a Saturday trivia night, an open mic night, and intends to evolve until it has carved a niche for itself into the Busan food, bar, and entertainment scene.
Located a few meters straight out of exit 3 in Moon's native area of Jangsan in Haeundae at the east end of Subway line 2, Hello Kimchi enjoys a second-story corner suite in a plaza-mall that's easily visible on the right side of the street. The vibrantly remodeled space has great energy, and is cozy without being cramped. Hello Kimchi also pulls off a distinct atmospheric shift from the dining area to the bar, despite no physical barriers between the two. Moon's choice in music for the her establishment is eclectic and modern, ranging from traditional Mexican folk songs to top 40 and back again, which sets a nicely varied auditory tone via Melon Internet radio. The staff is consistently attentive and helpful in both Korean and English, and because of the nature of the space someone always seems to be around when you need them.
Incentives are many, and excuses are ZERO. Get your stomach to Hello Kimchi and let Moon Brooks fill it with the best Mexican cuisine in Busan.
*Editors note. I have eaten there several times, as it is near my apartment, and I highly recommend the fajitas. Stellar. ~Bmc
You can check out their menu here.
Monday to Thursday: 12:00pm – 2:00am
Friday and Saturday: 12:00pm – 4:00am
Sunday: 12:00pm – 12:00am