Did you realize that the biggest department store in the world is in Busan?  No?  Well it is and I went there, because why not?  It’s the biggest in the world.

Shinsegae Centum City in Busan, South Korea

The store in question is the Centum City location of Shinsegae, a Korean department store.  And it is impressively large.  I’m not sure how much of a sense of scale you get from those pictures, but it is an imposingly monolithic structure that was even bigger than I assumed it was going to be.

Cavernous, multi-level department stores are a dime a dozen in this part of the world, so on the inside it doesn’t look all that much bigger than the norm.  But then there’s the certificate from the Guinness Book of World Records which confirms that, at an area of 3.16 million square feet, this is indeed the largest department store in the world.

Shinsegae Centum City in Busan, South Korea

But of course, what really interests me here is the food hall in the lower level (try to act surprised).

Most of the menus at the various vendors here were entirely in Korean with no pictures, so I basically just wandered around until I saw a dish on one of the counters (waiting to be picked up) that looked good, then I pointed to it.

Shinsegae Centum City in Busan, South Korea

Ah, pointing; my old friend.  Here’s a hot tip for you: when you’re traveling and you don’t know the language, pointing is as good as gold.  Just look around for something that looks good, then point.  Of course, if you’re a picky eater or you have food restrictions this could end badly, since you don’t necessarily know what you’re going to eat, but otherwise it works great.

I wound up with bibimbap in a hot stone bowl, which is a Korean rice dish that comes like this:

Shinsegae Centum City in Busan, South Korea

Then you mix it up, and it winds up like this:

Shinsegae Centum City in Busan, South Korea

It’s so great.  There’s a really inviting mix of flavours and textures here, and the piping hot stone bowl crisps up the rice around the edges.  If you’ve never had bibimbap, you need to fix that immediately.  It’s pretty much the opposite of an acquired taste; I can’t imagine anyone not liking it.

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