A Unique Takoyaki Experience in Busan — Namunip Maeul
Burger n’ Kimchi found a new restaurant in Busan to get your Takoyaki-fix this warm and now, wet summer. Someone certainly turned up the heat when we visited this small Takoyaki shop called, Namunip Maeul.
Kimchi is a big fan of Takoyaki. Myself, not so much. We both lived in Japan for quite some time and had a chance to eat our fill of these tiny octopus balls… Kimchi has a fond memory of the festival street food treat, but I always found Takoyaki a bit too sweet and sloppy for my liking.
Nonetheless, we found it interesting to see an actual brick-and-mortar restaurant that is serving up this Japanese snack as the focus of their menu. Of course we just had to go!
Maps and Stuff
Namunip Maeul (나뭇잎마을), is located in between Toseong and Dongdaesin Subway Stations, although Dongdaesin is probably a bit closer. If you’re coming from Dong-A University Bumin Campus, it’s only a short 5 minute walk to get there. You certainly won’t miss the place, because of the giant ball of Takoyaki above the door!
*If you prefer a more Korea-friendly map, you can click here.
The interior was simple, clean, and bright with enough seating to fit about a dozen people or so. The music was notably light and happy too. It kind of felt like we were eating Takoyaki inside a Studio Ghibli Animation or something… A little creepy… Yes. Fun? Also, yes.
No human contact needed at this restaurant. You just stroll up to the machine, tap out your order, and feed it your credit card.
This is a photo of the Takoyaki options at Namunip Maeul. We ordered the Negi Takoyaki (Top-Middle) and the Spicy Chinese-Style Takoyaki (Bottom-Middle).
The price of each dish isn’t exactly cheap, but you certainly get what you pay for in large pieces of fresh nuggets of octopus tentacles.
Another positive characteristic about this restaurant is that they have taken the traditional Takoyaki package and used it as a platform to create something new. You’re not going to find Spicy Chinese-Style Takoyaki infused with Mara spices anywhere else. Right?
Other options on the menu include: Pudding, Soft Drinks, and Beer…
This is the Spicy Chinese-Style Takoyaki. Despite its looks, it was nothing too extreme, just pleasantly spicy and a bit sweet. The texture was gooey. The breaded exterior of the Takoyaki disintegrated because of the spicy sauce. However, there were some seriously large chunks of octopus packed into the bready capsules.
This was my favorite dish and a more classic Japanese Takoyaki experience. The Negi Takoyaki features classically prepared Takoyaki balls with a topping of Japanese leek smothered in mayo.
The flavor was far richer and deep compared to the Spicy Chinese-Style Takoyaki. There’s just something extra delicious about the mayo and octopus combination that I love. The richness of the mayo, and the amount of it, balanced the sweetness of the Takoyaki sauce.
For dessert, we enjoyed this simple, Custard Pudding. It hit all the right notes, despite looking like nothing out of the ordinary. It was sweet, rich, eggy, and had that tasty hit of caramel waiting for you at the finish. I could have easily eaten 3 or 4 of these, because it was THAT good.
Kimchi, of course, had to get herself a beer. I have to say, this was an interesting choice for a beer to have on the menu. Kimchi and I were expecting the usual spread of Japanese beer options like: Asahi, Kirin, or Sapporo. Instead, the folks over at Namunip Maeul chose to include Tsingtao and Stella Artois on the menu.
Honestly, I would have liked to see something with a bit more flare or craft to pair with their unique platters of Takoyaki.
On a fun note, they had a camera set up in the wall that prints low-quality black and white photos. If this doesn’t show you how much fun Namunip Maeul wants their restaurant experience to be, I don’t know what will!
Namunip Maeul is serving up some of the most unique Takoyaki creations that Kimchi and I have seen to date.
The restaurant itself is clean and keeps the atmosphere light and happy. We absolutely loved the cute little touches of characters, plants, and the free selfie camera.
The food, while a bit on the expensive side at first glance, justifies its price point with the use of exceptional ingredients and the large chunks of octopus used in their Takoyaki. For us, quality is far more important than the price. However, this might not be the case for some…
Namunip Maeul has a strong start and is on the right trajectory for being a great restaurant, but unfortunately, Burger isn’t that easy…
Call me old fashioned, but a restaurant with such a light, cute, and comfortable atmosphere, is really missing a human connection. I felt like using the machine to order and picking up a tray of food from people hiding in the kitchen without any interaction undermined the “fun-ness” of the experience.
On a separate note, in my opinion, Takoyaki is a snack. I didn’t really feel like I had a meal and was left a bit unsatisfied. What’s missing is a few more Japanese additions to the menu that are also super simple to make. If there were more filling options like Yakisoba and/or Okonomiyaki on the menu, I believe I would have left feeling satisfied. These two dishes would be easy to incorporate into their current list of ingredients and would play well with their star dish, Takoyaki.
Finally, the beer selection needs to be overhauled… I’m not much of a drinker, but Japanese beer just makes sense. They could even have fun with it and find a small Japanese craft brewery that sells cute bottles of beer with animated characters or something even more outside-the-box to pair with their unique, tasty cephalopod creations.