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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

초밥왕: The King of Sushi

There’s an old sushi place in Seongnamdong, near Shigae-top, a half block north of the Firehall!   It’s a small restaurant, and easy to overlook if you’re blind, or if you can’t read Korean.  Just look for the smiling fat dude giving you a thumbs up.

The smiling fat cartoon character on the door?  That’s the owner.  He and his son, working as an apprentice, run the restaurant.  They’re super friendly.

The legends say that the Sushi King himself came down from his Sushi Palace in the Clouds and started the restaurant.  That he battled the forces of darkness and hatred with nothing but his razor-sharp sushi knife and his wits, before finally restoring peace to the Sushi Kingdom.

The legends also say that the Sushi Kingdom used to be a Sushi Constitutional Monarchy until the suspension of government and declaration of martial law in 1994.  That the Sushi King led a coup against the Sushi President and Sushi Prime Minister.

But it’s probably just a name the owner thought of.

Really, they’ve been in operation since 2009.  The menu has recently been translated into English by a dear friend of mine! So recently, in fact, that as of the publishing of this article, it has not yet been printed.  Check there next week.  (August 24th or so, 2012)  Rest assured, they have all the standards – shrimp, tuna, salmon, octopus, eel, egg, – in addition to some that aren’t typically on menus in the west, like flatfish, jellyfish, Korean beef, and one that says “live fish” on the menu.

This “live fish” (활어모듬초밥) option represents whatever’s in the aquarium outside.  The owner will capture a fish from the water and prepare a platter for you on the spot.  Costs between 15,000 and 20,000 won.

There’s also a narrow set of “fusion rolls” on the menu.  California with flying fish roe, spicy tuna, salmon with cream sauce, crab, rainbow, and chili shrimp.  Nothing too crazy or outlandish, and the flavours go well together. (Note that there may be more cream sauce than you expect on that salmon roll.)

Or you could try a Yaki set, with sushi, rolls, and a bowl of noodles with seafood.  These noodles are very good and I’d recommend the basic Yaki set.  On the menu, it says 야끼셋트, or “Yakki Set”.  The second option has cheese, so get the first one.

When I was there, all their ingredients seemed very fresh.  One benefit of living near the ocean in a country with a strong tradition of using raw fish, I guess.

My brother had an A set, and my friend and I shared a C set and some noodles.

Long story short, we had excellent food for a decent price.  Each of the sets was 20,000 won or under – and the noodles were about 8,000 won.  For the quality, freshness, and service, it’s definitely worth it.

Every meal comes with 죽 (korean rice porridge), 계란찜 (steamed egg), and 장국 (soy-sauce broth soup).

The noodles were absolutely delicious, especially covered with dried fish flakes as they were.

Be sure to get at least one piece of their Eel sushi from the 2pc. menu.  It’s the one that says 장어.

Also, they don’t have tea.  The only drinks they have are water, coke, and cider.

Value: 3/5

Ambience: 4/5

Quality: 4/5

Overall: 4/5 (Go, bring your friends.  It’s good eats.)