The Changing Face of Ulsan’s Restaurant Scene

Words and shots by Jason Teale

Get a taste of Ulsan’s blossoming global restaurant scene at these five foodie picks.
Industrial port city Ulsan was once an international foodie’s nightmare – barely anything resembled foreign food other than pizza and hamburgers. However, in recent years much has changed and Ulsan’s food scene has taken some cautious first steps towards globalization. Check out the five picks below for the best new international cuisine in this up-and-coming city.

Café La Nuit
Nestled on a side street near Ulsan’s bustling Samsandong shopping district, this French-inspired restaurant serves up Ulsan’s best steak: chateaubriand-style and made with fresh Korean beef from the Eonyang area, butchered the morning of serving. Ulsan legend and owner Dr. Im will give guests a taste of his memories of France with the help of the Café’s talented chefs, who are trained to pair the most perfect wine with your meal. Reservations are a must, but fear not as Dr. Im speaks perfect English – and his French is not too bad either.
From the Terminal Intersection (Lotte Hotel), head to the first major intersection and turn left. Take another left at the next set of lights and take the next immediate left onto the Café’s side street.

This authentic Moroccan hideaway’s exotic flavors make it one of the most unique restaurants in Ulsan. Each meal comes with excellent side dishes, salad, warm tea and fresh bread, guaranteeing you will not go home hungry. If you have money to burn, try the lamb ribs.
From the Terminal Intersection (Lotte Hotel), head to the first major intersection and turn right. Take a left at the next intersection and go straight. Marhaban is located just past the traffic lights on your left. 052-246-2040.

Bella Di Notte
Expat favorite Bella Di Notte is not your typical Italian eatery. With a casual atmosphere and an all-you-can-eat pizza and beer party every month, the restaurant is a good stop for both foodies and those looking to meet the community. The house specialty is a thin-crust Italian pizza that should not be missed.
From the side entrance of Lotte Hotel, head straight down the side street behind Starbucks. Bella Di Notte is on the left at the corner on the end of the street.

Sueungo Café and Bakery
It might be strange to hear that café owner Su Eun Go was trained in the C.I.A. – that is, the Culinary Institute of America. Her training and good taste make Sueungo Café and Bakery a heaven for those who miss the sweeter side of home. Grab a fork and spend an afternoon with hard-to-come-by goodies like key lime pie and authentic cheesecake. The best part of the café is that the menu changes daily. There is always something new and fresh to try – and you can be sure that your order will not have the Korean chain staples of sweet potato and cherry tomato.
The café is located directly across from Ulsan University in the basement level of a building just a few meters away from the main bus stop. Look towards Dunkin Donuts and you’ll see the cafe’s sign in English. 052-223-0777.

If there ever was a cuisine that Ulsan foodies crave so much that they’d fly to Seoul (or order long distance from tasty made-to-cook Gringo’s Korea) just to get their fix, it would have to be Mexican. O’Taco is the first restaurant of its kind in Ulsan, and appeared in rumors long before construction was completed. While located in somewhat-remote Bangeojin, the trek is worth finally getting a taste of south-of-the-border goodness without needing a plane or train to get there. One of the best reasons to head out is the views of the ocean from the restaurant’s back patio. On a summer day there is nothing finer.
O’Taco is located just down from the Hyundai Beach apartments. From Gohtbawi Road, and head straight down to the ocean – you can’t miss it. It’s just a few blocks down from local landmark Seaside Bar. 052-232-3696.