Best Sweet Red Bean Buns, As Picked by 5 Pastry Connoisseurs
The sweet red bean bun isn't your average pastry. At least in Korea, the taste of the sweet red bean bread is considered the measuring stick for an entire bakery. Here, five pastry connoisseurs, people who have tasted their shares of breads, selected their choice of the top sweet red bean bun. And these selections aren't blast from the past. You can enjoy them right now.
1Sweet Red Bean Bun at Lotte Hotel Seoul's Delica-Hans
“You can't help falling in love with this sweet red bean bun."
Recording artist Noh Sa-yeon
Delica-Hans, the bakery at Lotte Hotel Seoul, offers a wide range of pastries, cakes and tarts as the bread & pastry boutique. Surprisingly enough, the sweet red bean bun has emerged as a popular item of late. Noh Sa-yeon, a popular singer with a well-known affinity for this pastry, declared on JTBC's "Come See Me" that her favorite sweet red bun can be found at Delica-Hans. You may find the combination of the distinctively Korean snack and the Western-style hotel bakery a tad odd. But soon, you'll too fall in love with the generous portion and incredible taste. Delica-Hans' sweet red bean buns bring you mashed bean paste mixed with roasted walnuts for unique taste and texture. The yeast made with makgeolli is fermented at a low temperature for a full day, and it gives the bun chewy and soft texture. Bakeries at Lotte Hotel World in Jamsil, plus locations in Busan, Jeju and Ulsan, also sell sweet red bean buns.
“I recommend the sweet red bean bun at Le Pain, made with yeast from 'Yihawju,' a traditional beverage that dates back to Goryeo Dynasty. It's famous for generous bean paste. Wash it down with a glass of milk, and it will truly make your day."
Food content director Kim Hye-joon
Im Tae-eon, owner-chef at Le Pain, is a tireless worker who always searches for ways to bake better breads. After his humble beginning in 2010, Im now oversees four bakeries, in addition to 'Le Pain the Table,' a restaurant that serves pastries, dishes and desserts. Yihwaju yeast sweet red bean bun has the delicate scent of Yihwaju. It also comes in manju and condensed milk bun. Red beans are soaked and prepared at the bakery, and they're mixed with Gongju chestnuts and walnuts for the sweet taste that's just perfect. Among other signature items are chestnut breads, made with chestnuts that the chef himself picks out in Gongju, and mammoth bread, filled with all types of nuts inside.
Address Jung-gu, Myeongdong-gil 74 B103, Seoul (Myeongdong Cathedral Branch)
Price Yihwaju yeast sweet red bean bun 2,500 won
3Sweet Red Bean Bun at Fritz Coffee Company
“The name 'sweet red bean bun' has the word sweet in it, but I personally don't like them too sweet. The sweet red bean bun at Fritz Coffee Company has the bun that's just soft enough, and the whole red bean fillings aren't too sweet. The walnut at the center is really the icing on the cake."
Filmmaker Cho Won-hee
Fritz Coffee Company (henceforth Fritz) was founded by friends who were baristas and bakers. It's the perfect place to enjoy both pastries and coffee. The coffee team roasts green beans purchased through direct trade, and the bakery team makes for a fine partner. Chef Heo Min-soo, former owner-chef of 'The Oven and the Cattle,' has brought extra flavor to the bakery team. Come for the coffee and food, and stay for the interior. The lighting apparatuses and other props give the cafe a uniquely vintage feel. Fritz runs three cafes across Seoul, and the sweet red bean buns are only available at Dohwa and Yangjae locations.
Address Mapo-gu, Saechang-ro 2-gil 17, Seoul (Dohwa Branch)
Price Sweet red bean bun 2,100 won
4Sweet Red Bean Bun at Jean Boulangerie
“The soft and moist bun is filled with bean paste that has just the right amount of sweetness and crispy walnuts. If you're so inclined, you can go for the sweet red bean bun pasted with whipped cream."
Manager at POING(Restaurant integration platform) Park Sung-jin
It appears to be your regular neighborhood bakery tucked in a remote area near Nakseongdae subway station, but you'll have to get in line to buy your pastries there. The signature item at Jean Boulangerie is the sweet red bean bun as round and yellow as the full moon. The bakery moves about 1,000 of those buns a day. They're gone almost the second they're placed on the shelves, and there's a separate cash register just for these buns. If you can't make the trip, you can call them and place an order by mail. The bakery also sells mammoth buns, available in limited quantity, cream cheese buns and chocolate-covered buns.
Address Gwanak-gu, Nakseongdae Station-gil 8, Seoul
Price Sweet red bean bun 1,800 won
5Sweet Red Bean Bun at Leesungdang
“The proportion of the bun to the bean paste is really good. The thin bun and the generous fillings go really well together. It has the soft taste without too much sweetness."
Food stylist Moon In-young
You can't talk about sweet red bean buns in Korea without bringing up Leesungdang. It's the Mecca of all pastry connoisseurs and a landmark in Gunsan. Opened in 1945, it's also the oldest bakery in the country. The sweet red bean bun has long been the signature item here. People from all over the nation line up every day to get their taste of the legendary bun. The chewy bun is made of rice flour, and it's filled with the generous portion of red bean paste. The vegetable bun, packed with lettuce, carrot and other delicious veggies, is just as popular. In 2017, Leesungdang opened a new shop next to the original location. Bakers work on their new items there, and guests can come in and relax with their purchase of pastries, too. If you're in Gunsan, it's worth visiting both locations.