The word “western” makes me think of cowboy movies, and doesn’t really encapsulate the variety of cultures involved in this category. Occidental, meaning “from European roots” seems to better encapsulate categories that include buffet, hamburgers, Italian, Mexican, sandwiches, steak, and vegetarian. In alphabetical order, here are the results for Occidental Food:
Best Buffet – The buffets here tend to be a mixture of foods from various cultures, but since the style of eating “buffet” is definitely Western, it falls in this category. The winner of the best buffet in Ulsan is DeMaris, in Samsandong, in the Sky Rex building, with 69% of the vote. No other submission ranked close.
Best Hamburger – The results were close here. 30% of the voters chose Toolbox, in Ggotbawi, while 28% chose Hungry Kitchen in Mugeodong. Some people suggested that if you didn’t vote for Toolbox it was only because you hadn’t eaten there yet (which is entirely likely, since you can’t get much further apart in Ulsan-proper than Ggotbawi and Mugeodong), and others suggested that Hungry Kitchen should lose points because they are often out of burgers at lunch time, which seems like a bad business model for a restaurant. Let’s put aside our beefs, and agree that there are at least two great burger joints in Ulsan now. A special thanks goes out to the kind soul who voted for “Dee’s grill” as the best burger in town, though those are usually from Costco, or made by Rocy Martinez. And to the voters who chose McDonald’s or Lotteria, do you not have taste buds?!
Best Italian Restaurant – With 74% of the vote, it’s pretty clear that UlsanOnline readers love Bella di Notte, and are thrilled that Ray has decided to open up his bigger and better restaurant in the heart of Samsandong. But we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge Bocca dela Verita, in Mugeodong, which was the probably the first in Ulsan to serve proper wood-fire baked, slim crust pizzas with no corn on top. Honourable mention goes to the person who voted “my kitchen”.
Best Mexican Restaurant – We may have jumped the gun including this category in the vote, as the only Mexican restaurant in Ulsan opened after voting had closed, but readers still polled their favourite places. The largest vote went to Gringos Burritos, who, while not actually located in Ulsan, deliver their delicious food to your house. O’Taco, the new restaurant in Ggotbawi did actually get one vote, which shows a lot of faith. They have since opened, so next year, they may legitimately be in the running.
Best Sandwich – Another close race here, but this time Hungry Kitchen comes in on top, with 28% of the vote, closely followed by B-Stove with 25%. Honourable mention goes to Big Bite in Ggotbawi who received 14%. Just hope Hungry Kitchen has bread, as they often run out at lunchtime.
Best Steak – Despite being a new to the restaurant scene, Dr. Im’s Cafe la Nuit cleaned up in this category, with 50% of the vote. Several other restaurants were mentioned, but failed to generate more than a handful of votes each.
Best Vegetarian Restaurant- Since Korean food generally involves a fair amount of pork or beef, vegetarian fare can be difficult to suss out. Loving Hut comes in as the first choice among our readers, with 50% of the vote. Bella di Notte received 25% of the vote in a solid, but understandably 2nd place finish. Loving Hut is a dedicated vegan restaurant, after all, while Bella only offers vegetarian choices. Cocky and Namaskar also received votes for offering veggie dishes.
One thing this survey has shown us is that there are lots of great restaurants around Ulsan, serving a wide variety of good food. No longer is “Occidental food” a shady version of what you’re used to from home. Plenty of places are now offering legitimate cuisine from numerous cultures.