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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan


Think of buffet style dining here in Korea and one usually conjures up images of the slop troughs within the wedding halls where family and friends of the bride and groom attempt to pound down as much as they can as quickly as they can before the next wedding party arrives. Having been to several weddings in this land, I write from experience and those buffets are nothing to write about. The food is plentiful but hardly memorable, unless one counts remembering the queasy feeling afterwards.

Fasilo, on the other hand, is a welcome break from that mold. A combination shabu shabu and sushi buffet, Fasilo has none of the mass production ambience of the wedding hall variety buffets. Too small for all but the most private of family weddings, this restaurant has more of the feel of a family restaurant simply trying to offer quality food in quantity. The name “Fasilo” is a combination of Felice (happy) and Asilo (home), and a happy home it appears to be.  The owner, nattily dressed in a sweater vest and slacks was mopping the floors when we arrived.  He was friendly, the place clean and the music a pleasing mix of recent Korean and western pop songs

Although one would hardly term this restaurant a haven of foreigner food, my dining partners and I feasted on quite a bit more than just sushi and shabu-shabu. The salad bar alone was fabulous and was flush with both crisp, fresh greens and prepared salads and I had my choice of 4 dressings – double the usual offerings. I love a good salad and most buffets have more prepared dishes, heavy on the mayonaise. It was nice to have a good selection of the raw materials to make my own.

The owner urged me to try the steak which is grilled on request. I gorged that, which was grilled perfectly nose-pink and basted with a teriyaki glaze. I could have been happy simply eating slice after slice of that.  From the steam tables, the potatoes au-gratin made for great comfort food and the spaghetti was better than momma made (my mother is Irish and Scottish, so spaghetti was never her bag, but Fasilo’s was good anyway.) Chinese style dishes such as tang-su-yook and garlic shrimp were also plentiful, all of which were delicious.

Of the shabu shabu, that too, was great. The beef, seafood and vegetables were fresh and, since it was buffet, plentiful. The sushi, was, however, disappointing, as buffet sushi always is. It’s just too expensive to put out the better cuts on a buffet price. What tuna there was was pale pink and thin enough to read a book through.  But if I really wanted sushi, I’d go to  a place that specialized in good sushi, such as Sushi Bar Haru,  The roll sushi, where creativity can surmount the thin buffet slices, was tasty, however.

We spent some time near the end of our meal talking with the owner. He explained he usually gets a good crowd, particularly on the weekends. He also admitted he made a lot of revenue. Profit, however, seemed to have escaped him. He spent almost all he made just running the restaurant,  but he was seemed happy providing good quality at decent prices.

Should you go there, don’t expect much English from the staff. The most I got was from the grill chef who said “knife” and pointed to a tray of them when she handed me my grilled steak. If you can read Hanguel, you’ll do fine as that was more understandable than the English they put on placards. Sometimes, the English was so horrid that it caused me to laugh out loud.

I had better luck reading the Hanguel than trying to decipher the “English” on the meat spaghetti dish.  But if you’ve never had “crad” before that alone is worth the trip.

As for price, we spent around 85K won for three of us, including a couple bottles of beer. One can certainly find more expensive buffets and there are cheaper, too. The last time we went to a cheaper one, half our party of six became ill. Slightly over 25K won each and well worth it. I could barely move toward the exit.

Fasilo is in Mugeodong near the Sinbok rotary, between Wellitz tower and Kyungnam Bank. They are located on the 10th floor above the Sauna and Jjimjilbang, Look for the red sign with 파시로 on the building about 7 floors up.