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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

Finally, good Thai – Sarojin

I’ve always wanted a good Thai restaurant in Ulsan.  Or in Korea, frankly.  There are decent ones in Seoul and Busan, but the Ulsan offerings so far have been limited to Noodle Box and Pattaya, neither of which is any good.  So praise his majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej that we have been delivered.

You may have already noticed this place, as it happens to be just a few doors down the street from JJ’s.  Not only does Sarojin offer the best Thai food I’ve had in Korea, but it has the most convenient location possible!

We entered in a big group and decided to all order something different.  It’s a good way to approach the place for your first time, there’s a wide variety of stuff on offer.  If there is any downside to Sarojin, it’s a little pricy.  Not ridiculously so, but sharing in a big group helps.  Fortunately, the quality matches.

The owner has gotten all her recipes directly from chefs in Thailand, and the head chef is Thai as well.  There is nothing Korean about this place.  No gochujang snuck into sauces, not even a scrap of kimchi or pickle to be seen on the table.


The first dish that came was the papaya salad, Song Tam.  Heavy on fish sauce and pepper, my friends who had been to Thailand said it was exactly the same as there, possibly better.  This is also a great dish to trick your less-worldly friends with as it looks tame, salad and all, but is one of the hottest things in Thai cuisine.  Sarojin doesn’t skimp on that account either–the spice level is Thai, not the reduced spiciness you often find here to cater to Korean preferences.  If the dish is supposed to be hot, it will be.

Koong rad pric, I believe.  Perfectly cooked shrimp in a spicy sauce.  Also nice that here they bother to clean the shrimp, which is something I’ve never seen at a Korean restaurant.  I don’t necessarily mind eating a full shrimp poop chute but given that you can fix that with a knife and five seconds, it’s nice to see it done.

Tom yam koong, which was perfect.  They have both the version with the coconut milk and without.  I don’t even particularly like mushrooms but was all over this.  They also bring it out in a pot with extra bowls, if you prefer not sharing your herpes with your best friends.

This one was kuay teow lod ta lay.  No heat to this dish, if you’re not a spicy fan or just need a break.

The pad thai.

This was the dish that convinced me that Sarojin was something special.  Everything had been good up to now, don’t get me wrong, but this was something else.  I have to make a food snob confession here.  I disdain pad thai.  I think it’s a bland dish that became popular purely because the word thai is in it.  It’s Thai food for people who don’t really like Thai food but want to pretend like they do.  I never order it.

But this pad thai was extraordinary.  It’s probably the best I’ve ever had, since my pretentiousness never let me try it at some of the world-class Thai places I’ve been to before like Lotus of Siam in Vegas.  I will actually go back to Sarojin and intentionally order pad thai for myself.  It completely changed my expectations.  If you’re like me and avoid pad thai, try this one.  This is another of the non-spicy offerings, also.

You can enjoy your horn of ale while eating.  This place is really classy, by the way.  I wouldn’t come in here roaring shitfaced.  Go here first, then go to JJ’s.

Nuea nam man hoy, stir-fried beef.  Also no spice.

And finally we had this cashew chicken dish, kai pad mad mamuang.

Fantastic meal, fantastic place.  A few of the people at the table had been to Thailand and rated this as equal to anything they had there.  It’s the best I’ve had in Korea and among the best anywhere.  Go here.  Make it succeed.

Sarojin is also a spa, massage parlor, and coffee shop?  I think?  It’s like 20 things, the owner has a ton of businesses and this is something of a labor of love for her.  The last page of the menu has massages.  You could probably spend an entire day in here.  The menu is at the end of the post, enjoy the shadows from my hands.

Sarojin is located in Seongnamdong, basically right next to JJ’s.  If you’re standing in front of the alley to go to JJ’s, continue west another three or four doors and you’re there (check the UlsanOnline drinking and dining map for JJ’s location).  They’re open late, the last seating is around midnight.  Stop reading!  Go eat!  Enjoy my blurry menu pictures.

This place is classy so I don’t think happy hour means what you think it does.


Also I hope you appreciate an entire Thai food review without a single Thai pun.