Jeju Island: What To Eat

2 Nov

While I didn’t find the attractions in Jeju Island particularly spectacular, I found the local cuisine a different story. So if you’re planning to hit Jeju anyway, make it a must to eat well there! I don’t have specific restaurants to recommend as it was really hard to get around the island unless you read, speak Korean and drive, so most of what we ate was either near our hotel in the Tap-dong area, or in Dongmun Market (Ido 1-dong, Jeju-si). Just look out for restaurants packed with people, check the prices on the menu before your enter and you should be fine. Here is a list of some local dishes that you should try when you’re there, and some prices for a gauge.

Black Pork is probably Jeju Island’s most famous dish. It’s supposed to be chewier and more flavourful than the normal types of pork. And in Jeju, it’s not expensive unlike the rep it has in Singapore and Japan. We ate black pig for 3 meals on our 2nd day there and needless to say we were all porked out after that! Don’t be surprised if you find a black hair sticking out on your pork, it’s to ensure that it’s “genuine” instead of the usual pig variety.

We first ate it in a Chilli-Bean Paste Stew for lunch as part of our day tour. This was a restaurant in a hut near the Traditional Folk Village. The pork was tender and had a moreish flavour because of the paste.

Dinner was Barbeque Ogyeopsal (five layered pork) in a stall located within Dongmun market. It was so sinfully fatty but so good! The black pork set was quite cheap, at 13,000W per pax. You can consider having your dinner in the market as they have places where you can also dine in that specialise in different foods like BBQ, seafood, etc. You may have to explore the market to find them as they are quite hidden.

We were told by our guide that opposite the NANTA theatre was a “Noodle Street” that specialises in Gogiguksu (pork with Japanese-style noodles). Hence after our show, we went for supper in a hole-in-a-wall shop run by an elderly couple. Broth was very light compared to the Japanese-style ramen and the pork slices were very fatty! Comfort food for a cold night. This was about 9,000W for a small bowl.

Mackerel was everywhere in Jeju and very cheap (8,000W). The hubs had grilled mackerel with rice twice! The fish had such moist and flaky flesh and crispy skin on the outside. Sea Bream was also a prevalent local fish but it was at least double the price so we didn’t try. Regretting on hindsight!

Seonggeguk (sea urchin soup) was basically sea urchin flesh boiled with seaweed in a soup. I had high expectations since on paper it sounds delicious and I’m a uni fan, but the creaminess and flavour of the uni did not really come through in this, and it became quite hard it was “cooked” by the soup. Perhaps it was just problem with the execution at the restaurant I had it at, but for now I will still prefer my uni raw and fresh anytime! This was about 12,000W.

Haemul-Ttukbaegi (seafood stew) was easily my favourite dish on our Jeju trip. For 10,000W you get two small crayfish, two abalones, some crab and clams. That’s insanely cheap! The soup was delicious and the abalone was tender, and not small at all.

Hwae (raw fish) was sashimi but done Korean style, so forget about the usual suspects like tuna and salmon, instead (from top left clockwise) we had flounder, octopus (I think this was boiled though), munggae (sea squirt) and junbok (abalone).  We had this at one of the seafood restaurants on the coast and it was 10,000W a plate. The sea squirt tasted very vile, like dishwashing liquid! But the octopus was melt in your mouth tender and the raw abalone had crunchy texture.

I suppose Junbokjuk (abalone porridge) is the must-eats for tourists. The abalone is actually chopped up into small pieces and cooked in the porridge. Since abalone doesn’t have much taste in the first place, a lot is dependent on the broth used in the porridge. I liked it so much I had it twice! The first time was somewhere along the touristy seafood street. The greenish broth was very tasty, had a slight charred taste and smelt like the sea! I suspect they actually use bits of the abalone for it (the greenish sac part).

The second time was near our hotel and it had more abalone here (the ajumma chopped two up). But there could be more flavour in the soup. It was only 10,000W though (such a steal, for two abalones)!

Tangerines (gamgyul) were everywhere! On the roadside going at 2,000W for a bag, at the markets and also in the high end souvenir shops for the prettily packaged and higher grade ones. We just bought from the roadside and they were so sweet. Not to be confused with Hallabong which is bigger, more expensive and has a more protruding “stem”.

Rounding up the list would be Baeknyuncho (Palm Cactus). Yes I never knew they were edible until Jeju! In Jeju they make drinks, desserts and ice cream using it a flattened species of cactus that thrives there. My cactus ice cream from a random ice cream shop (3,000W) tasted a bit like strawberries – interesting! Try getting a more gourmet tub from the supermarket if you can!

That’s all folks and happy eating! :D

2 Responses to “Jeju Island: What To Eat”

  1. stonesharonron October 7, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

    thanks for this, i found all the picture i need for my upcoming free & easy jeju trip :)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Seoul: Street Food & Other Snacks « Chow & The City - December 16, 2011

    […] If you’re feeling sinful from all that eating, try having some fruits from one of the many fruit trucks doubling as shops around the city to balance out. Don’t miss out the really sweet tangerines from Jeju Island. […]

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