Feature image via Busan Baby, photography by Jon Wah
New, neon pink restaurant Busan Baby is difficult to ignore, and co-owner Sharlin Kwok says this is absolutely deliberate.
Kwok (manager of Gin Long Canteen) opened Busan Baby with Jae Park (head chef at Bai Long Store and now Busan Baby) in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, initially operating with takeaway services only.
The two have worked together for the past few years and have always envisioned bringing a restaurant encapsulating the Korean drinking culture, food, and atmosphere to Adelaide.
“Jae Park is basically the ‘Busan baby’ because he is born in Busan,” says Kwok of the name.
Park’s wife Jinny (who is also a pastry chef) is responsible for the restaurant’s electric design, taking inspiration from traditional Korean colours including hot pinks, blues, greens, and yellows.
Busan Baby opened in early April, just after the COVID-19 government restrictions declared restaurants could exclusively operate on a takeaway basis.
Opening a new restaurant during an unprecedented global pandemic is an undertaking Kwok and Park have seemingly taken in their stride.
“Going straight into take away is a bit difficult … because the whole concept of this place is for people to gather and have some good times so the menu was mostly designed for dine in,” says Kwok.
Kwok says they had to adapt quickly, reducing and redesigning the menu to make it more conducive to takeaway, and offering 20% off for all pick up orders, a discount that will remain until mid-June.
The redesigned menu has stayed true to Busan Baby’s intention of serving authentic yet “trendy” fusion Korean street food.
Kwok says chilli, cheese, and kimchi feature prominently, with dishes available to suit those keen on a spice hit and those who prefer a milder offering.
As far as his top picks go, Kwok says the KFC (Korean fried chicken) has been exceedingly popular, and is perhaps the perfect menu item to accompany soju or a beer.
A vegetarian cauliflower version of the dish is set to launch on June 8, marking the expected return of indoor dining.
Kwok also highlights the pork ribs (stewed for 24 hours and then chargrilled with a secret Korean spicy sauce) and the seafood tofu stew (a traditional Korean dish comprising of soft tofu and combination seafood in Busan Baby’s secret chilli soup).
Gluten free, vegan, and vegetarian friendly food is also available.
The Busan Baby offering doesn’t stop at savoury, with Jinny Park’s chiffon cakes having sold out almost every day.
Kwok described the chiffon cakes as very soft, with cold flavoured cream inside.
Made fresh every day, according to Kwok, this type of chiffon cake can’t be found anywhere else in Adelaide at the moment.
With the gradual easing of restrictions now tangible, Kwok says he is excited for the “proper opening” of Busan Baby, excited to have people eating, drinking, and gathering in the restaurant.
He comments on his hope that customers will stay longer in the evenings, enjoying drinks and playing the board games Busan Baby has ready and waiting.
Busan Baby is located at 270 Morphett Street.