© Rob Greig

To the delight of Holloway locals, this family-run Korean restaurant is back on the scene after it served its last bibimbap five years ago. Mr and Mrs Lee have re-opened Busan just a

few doors down from their original location.

The updated decor has a futuristic hint, with glossy tables and chairs and coloured lighting tempered with the addition of a large ink mural flanking one wall. The resurrection also sees the addition of a sushi and sashimi menu.

The main menu, unlike many we’ve encountered in London, has a poetic line or two explaining the dish; useful for newbies to Korean cuisine. We loved the description of the sundubu jijae (soft curdled tofu stew), the experience likened to ‘eating a spicy cloud’. Indeed – the soft tofu curds were gloriously silky and light, suspended in a rich chilli- and seafood-spiked soup, mellowed by the addition of a sunny egg yolk.

Good, but not better, was a galbi tang (beef shortrib stew), a peppery, milky broth laced with slippery glass noodles, chunks of tender daikon radish and pieces of (not quite as tender) beef.

We appreciated that the barbecued galbi came with lettuce and doenjang (soy bean paste) for wrapping up the meat – most Korean restaurants in London charge extra for these – but the beef was again just a bit on the tough side. Hobak bokkeum (stir-fried courgette with sesame oil) came in generous portions, and was sweet and moreish.

Service demonstrated a solid sense of hospitality – commendable, as it seemed it was Mrs Lee who was singlehandedly working the room on our visit. Welcome back, Busan.

Venue name: Busan
Address: 39 Holloway Road
N7 8JP
Opening hours: Open noon-3pm, 6-11pm Mon, Wed-Sat; noon-3pm, 6-10.30pm Tue
Transport: Tube: Highbury & Islington tube/rail
Price: Meal for two with drinks and service: around £45
2 people listening
Lucy S

Visited the restaurant last night. I've been a couple of times before and service has been fine. This time was different - I'm not sure if the waitress was having an off day or whether it was because I was a female dining alone this time but she was slow to take my order, she forgot to bring one of my drinks and when she took my order (I was right by the kitchen) she walked to the opposite end of the restaurant to serve another table without even handing my order in so it took even longer to get my food. I'm normally an over-tipper but this time I just wanted to pay for my food but sadly the tip was included. When she brought the tip tray back with my remaining change she flung it on the table without even looking. Thoroughly ruined my dining experience. It's a shame because all the other staff seemed lovely-it was just the older female waitress. I might go back again but if I see she's serving again I'll just find somewhere else to eat.


Terrible place, wouldn't recommend it to anyone. Food was average to bad. It did not feel fresh, not hot in enough (temperature wise). The worst part is the service. Went in stood there - all three waitresses ignored us for ages and eventually, one said sit on one of the small tables! Brought one meal while I had to wait for the second one - with no one coming to check. The waitress was rude and grumpy looking - even when taking the order. I would avoid this place - especially as the food isn't even that great!


I can see some reviews here are pretty old so I thought some update here will do. Me and my partner finally made it to Busan after wanting to give it a try for ages. The service was great and helpful and food fresh and delicious. Place itself very clean, nice clean toilets with lots of fresh flowers. The only disturbance I found was a girl (owners daughter I guess) at the next table talking loudly on the phone with speaker on so we had to listen the whole conversation about some home appliances... That was rather annoying. Anyways, overall experience was great and I would definitely recommend!


Food was very mediocre and we had to catch the eye of a surly waitress to get service. The only redeeming factor was the clean and spacious toilet. I wouldn't recommend this restaurant to foodies.


Went here for the first time and food was pretty good and not bad value. However, they really need to work on the service- it was far from busy (maybe 4 tables occupied), we waited about 10 minutes to be ofered a drink, the staff were uniformly unsmiling, our mains arrived half way through the starters and we were never asked if things were OK while waiting what seemed an age for the bill. A shame, as the food is good but probably won't be returning


Very good Korean food, and good to see such a restaurant on Holloway Rd. Only gripe is service. We had bbq pork strips, which you dip in sauce and wrap in a lettuce leaf. The number of lettuce leaves didn't match the number of pork strips. When the leaves ran out I asked for a few more to finish off the pork, only to be told you have to buy an extra portion for £2.50. This is not on. They were a bit eager on clearing away plates as soon as someone had finished, while others were still eating. A pet peeve of many. They were freindly however and this restaurant is worth a visit.


Really delicious food! Love the modern decor and the owners very friendly.

Tally and Gnomi

Popped in on a whim - ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC! We've both lived in South East Asia and thought the food was gorgeous. We had the bugosi and the hot pot (called something else), both Korean dishes. Service was excellent - fast and friendly. In an area with so many quite good restaurants, it's great to find somewhere affordable with truly great food. Go here!

Ms Domestic

We were regulars for many years and sorely missed the food and atmosphere. Now we are stunned by the aesthetic improvement (it was a bit dingy before), the food is as good as it was or perhaps even better and Mrs Lee is unbeatable as a hostess. Since it's reopening we've been back three times as a couple and three times with large groups (7, 16, 22) and our guests are always amazed at how good it is. The Busan is one of North London's best kept secrets and we for one are very happy that it is back on the scene.


Absolutely lovely staff, the food was excellent (if probably a bit toned down for western palates). A good solid dependable Korean/Japanese - of which there are precious few in London hence I think three stars is very stingy considering I will be going back frequently.


worst food ever. the place is nice itself but the waiter was not smiling and had troubles understanding us. I would not recommend it

Jason Tsang

First impressions matter, unlike a lot of Korean restaurants, Busan puts effort into presentation. The first thing you noice is the decor, which is pleasing. How many Korean or Chinese restaurants have you been to, where decor is not even an afterthought? The menu itself is not that special, but it has what most people like. I really liked the "yuk-hoe", which is the Korean version of steak tartare. I've never eaten raw beef, but don't let the idea put you off, its not like anything you've tried before. I didn't try any of the japanese dishes, but I didn't go to a Korean restaurant for Japanese food. Price wise, Busan isn't cheap and on par with what the best in Angel would charge. I've eaten at quite a few Korean restaurants in London and whilst Busan might not be the best, it is far from the worst. I'll be back.

Neil C

Bright and quicky decor, excellent food, great value, warm and friendly service - a very welcome addition to the rapidly improving Holloway Road food scene