Since being here in Korea for over a year, I’ve been to some awesome places, tried some unique products, and met some wonderful people. And I want to tell you all about it! Expat and the City is proud to present a new review series on the blog called: The KoREAL Deal.
My first installment for the series is a wicked wine bar located in the Gwangan Beach area of Busan.
It was a warm October evening in Korea. My friend, LC, and I were strolling the Gwangan boardwalk, hitting up a few cafes and bars along the way. We normally don’t stop when we see people passing out samples in Korea. But to our surprise, they were handing out wine samples so we obviously had to stop (FREE wine, helloooo!).
The folks said they just opened up a new wine bar a few blocks down the road and they were having a promotions event. So LC and I decided to check it out. After tasting some more wine samples in front of the restaurant (hehe), we headed up to the 3rd floor to what is known as Bar Di.Lan.
When we stepped into the bar, I immediately forgot that I was in Busan. The cozy ambiance and modern tones reminded me of places I go to back home in Toronto and Hamilton.
I loved everything about the design of the restaurant: the exposed brick, old books and empty wine bottles lining the shelves, cool art on the walls, and funky light fixtures including a beautiful chandelier hanging above. Not to mention the jazz and blues music softly playing in background. You can tell that a lot of thought and dedication was put into creating a comfortable dining experience. The lighting was dimly lit, making it a perfect spot for a date or celebrating a special occasion.
We were welcomed by the owners, Sam and Kristy Lee, a graphic and fashion designer originally from Busan, who had lived in New York City for almost twenty years. We sat at the bar, had a couple glasses of vino and some great conversation with our new friends!
We knew for sure we’d come back again, and next time, for dinner! A couple weeks ago, I was finally able to revisit Bar Di.Lan!
What I Ate
Although the menu is somewhat small, the portion sizes are perfect – even for two people! LC and I shared Caprese Salad, Creamy Mushroom Pasta, and Drunken Mussels. All three dishes were absolutely divine and it left me comfortably full. No food baby for this girl! Other drool-worthy items on the menu include: steak, a selection of pastas, crudités and other shareable items. Sometimes they will run a special menu available for a limited time. NOTE: I was so hungry that I forgot to take quality photos of my meal. So here are some other photos courtesy of the Bar Di. Lan Instagram page (follow them on Insta!).
What I Drank
You know what is not small? The wine list! From Chardonnay to Merlot to some lovely dessert wines. Bar Di.Lan has it all! However, the price point is quite expensive for bottles. If I was ballin’ out of control (or if it was my birthday) I’d be all about that. Thankfully, there are a couple options for money-conscious people like myself. So I ordered a small sized bottle of a sweet French white (actually I ordered two… not going to lie!) for 10,000won each (~$10USD). A selection of reasonably priced craft beers is also available.
Sam and Kristy were ever so kind to let me ask them a few questions about their business.
First I was super curious to know how they came up with the name for their bar…
“We loved the name Dylan so that is what we named our first-born child. And everyone knows the famous Bob Dylan, right? So we got part of our restaurant’s name from Dylan. Then we put “Bar” in front of it. If we wrote Dylan (with a ‘Y’), people in Korea may have pronounced it die-lan. We changed it to an ‘I’ and added a period to help with pronunciation. And that’s how we got the name and the logo at the same time.”
(And if you say it fast enough, Bar Di.Lan sounds kind of like Bob Dylan. Cool!)
What are some challenges with running a business in a very popular area of Busan?
“We’ve never ran a business before. We started this bar because we love wine. There are not many wine bars in Busan – there’s a few here and there. But we still have lots of competition – restaurants, bars, clubs, and cafes. We need to figure out the difference between us and them. Bar Di.Lan has only been open for six months so we’re trying to do as much social media marketing as possible – targeting Facebook and Instagram. Word of mouth is also helping with bringing in business.” (Thanks LC!)
Are your patrons mostly local, expats/foreigners, or a mix of both?
It’s about 80% local, 15% out-of-town Koreans, and 5% foreigners.
What is your favourite dish on the menu?
Right now I really like the octopus and the oysters. That’s why we want to introduce more white wines to complement the sea food menu.
What is your favourite wine?
It depends. Some days I love white, and other days I love red. But right now, I like white sparkling wines.
Did you know…?
Sam and Kristy also own a guesthouse (conveniently located above Bar Di.Lan) called Pause B&B. If you’re ever looking for a place to stay in the Gwangan beach area, and need some ‘time to pause’ on your busy day, then this is the perfect spot. Check out their website HERE.
Summer 2016 will be the first summer season for Bar Di.Lan with hopes of introducing more sparkling wine and white wines at reasonable prices. I’m super excited to return to Bar Di.Lan for a night out with the gals (or maybe on a date – wink, wink).
Rating: 4.5 / 5
Bar Di.Lan is the KoREAL Deal! Check it out for yourself!
Hours of Operation
Namchun Badaro 31-1, AK Building 3F, Gwangali, Busan, South Korea
(Take the green subway [line 2] and get off at Geumnyeonsan Station, exit 3. Take your first right and walk all the way down the street, heading towards the beach. It is on your left hand side if you are facing the beach; across the street from Starbucks).