July 20, 2012
Godeungeo & Galchijorim
As I’ve mentioned before, Jeju Island in Korea is famous for its black pork. Thick, succulent, tender pork that takes an age to cook, but is so, so worth it.
However, a few folk commented that surely, as an island, isn’t Jeju also famous for its seafood? Well, the answer to that question is yes. Yes it is.
Jeju’s seafood is sublime and, thankfully for me, largely devoid of tentacles. I detest squid and octopus (especially the live variety) and didn’t see any pop up on the table during the entire trip. Rather, I was treated to some super spicy seafood dishes at restaurants that were frequented by the locals, rather than the tourist masses on the summer holidays.
So, if you’re going to Jeju on your summer holidays, where can you find these places, beat the crowds and experience a whole lot of foodporn fresh from the sea?
Literally translated into English, the name godeungeo (고등어) means “high class fish”. But, what is this snooty fish that thinks it’s better than everything else with fins, though? Holy mackerel it’s….mackerel!
This is mackerel like I’ve never eaten before. So, maybe the mackerel only thinks it’s classy in relation to other mackerel around the world? In which case, that would totally make sense.
Godeungeo is served in a spicy stew consisting of stewed onions, carrots and potatoes. The presentation isn’t amazing, but it’s real, good, homemade comfort food that packs a punch. When all the fish was gone, I was still spooning the vegetables and sauce into my rice bowl. I would have licked the plate if I was in the privacy of my own home.
|What could be hiding underneath?…|
|This. This is what classy mackerel looks like.|
Where to eat it?
Check out Jeju Haeryong (제주해룡). It’s a quiet little place, and the owner seemed puzzled – but delighted – when Gil Dong, his family and I showed up. It turns out that the place has a lot of regulars who keep on coming back and, with this kind of food, it’s really not hard to see why. You can contact the restaurant on 064-784-8849. If you don’t speak Korean or have no Korean speaker in your group, then try and have your pension, hostel, hotel, wherever call up to make a reservation. It’s located in Seogwipo (서귀포) but note this is the Seogwipo on the east coast not the south coast.
Address: Jeju Island, Seogwipo, Seongsan-eup, Seongsalli 28 // 제주특별자치도 서귀포시 성산읍 성산리 28 // Phone 064-784-8849
|Jeju Haeryong restaurant|
Another kind of spicy fish stew, galchijorim consists of a fish called hairtail, which apparently also has the names cutlassfish and scabbard fish. I have no idea what any of these are, but with a name like scabbard fish, I have no qualms that I’m eating anything as cute as Nemo or any of his friends.
You’ll have to fight with bones when diving into galchijorim, but if prepared right, the fish will just slide right of the bone with a sweep of your chopsticks anyway. Just like godeungeo, this isn’t a dish for those with delicate palates – it’s spicy and can break you into a sweat. Served with radish and spring onions, this is a cheaper option than the more expensive godeungeo, but no less delicious.
Plus, you know a dish is good when it’s featured over at Korean foodie blog supreme Pikelet and Pie.
|Mmm, stewed things.|
Where to eat it?
We ate galchijorim on the first night of our trip in a restaurant recommended to us by one of Gil Dong’s father’s friends who owns the Wa Bar in Jeju City (which you should go to if only to see the son of Gil Dong’s father’s friend – his cheekbones could cut ice). Cheonga (청아) is, like Jeju Haeryong, a small, non-touristy restaurant with no frills but plenty of flavour. As before, if you want to make a reservation you’ll need to find a Korean speaker.
Address: Jeju Island, Jeju-si, Aewol-eup, Aewolli 1756 // 제주특별자치도 제주시 애월읍 애월리 1756 // Phone 064-799-3666
|So good we ate there twice, maybe even three times.|
For somewhere a little cheaper that won’t have a backpacker worrying about breaking his or her budget, then this next place is a sure-fire winner. Galchijorim (again) and pork are your best bets for a meal that will leave you needing to be rolled out of the door.
Yes, I said pork and I’m well aware that pork is not a kind of fish. However, I can’t resist writing about the meal I had at this restaurant as it is exactly the kind of food that I go crazy over. Simple, home-cooked fare served at a price that won’t leave me with glutton’s remorse after finishing it. Lots of meat, lots of fish, potatoes, onions, rice, egg rolls, and a spicy tofu stew.
|Mmm, pork and onions.|
|Tofu stew when done right is oh-so-right.|
|Table spread of heaven – on a budget.|
Where to eat it?
This little place is popular with taxi drivers and local workmen, most of whom were over forty years old – when that’s the case, you know that a place serves decent grub. Not fancy on the outside, not fancy on the inside, this isn’t a place where you go to if you want to impress your sweetie on a romantic date – but it is a place to take your sweetie if, like me, he or she appreciates a decent meal without caring too much about the surroundings. Maekbanseok Sikdang (맥반석식당) is the place to go and, like before, it’s best to have a Korean speaker make reservations if at all possible.
Address: Jeju Island, Jeju-si, Gujwa-eup, Sehwali 1469 // 제주특별자치도, 제주시, 구좌읍, 세화리 1469 // Phone 064-784-4446
|Inside the restaurant – no frills, but it’ll fill you up and leave you smiling.|
So, there you have it, folks! Now, I want to hear from you! Which of the places above would you choose to eat at? Would you go for the godeungeo, the galchijorim, or the, erm, pork. Do you care about your surroundings when you eat, or are you happy to go somewhere with no-frills for the sake of a meal that will leave you thoroughly satisfied? Let us know in the comments below, or shout out on Facebook or Twitter.