‘Jeju,’ the southernmost island of Korea, has a warm climate, clean sea, beautiful Hallasan Mountain, and fresh grasslands, making it one of the best resorts in Korea. It is popular with both locals and foreigners, with more than 12 million domestic and foreign tourists visiting each year. It is a great place to appreciate various aspects of Korea, as there are exotic landscapes that cannot be seen in mainland Korea, such as large palm trees and black basalt rocks.
Jeju is a remote island with a unique food culture because of its unique natural environment. Freshly caught seafood from offshore and healthy livestock are the main ingredients of Jeju food. Most of them are characterized by simple cooking to preserve the natural taste, and many ingredients can only be found in Jeju, so even Koreans always look for regional cuisine when they visit Jeju. We introduce Jeju’s unique regional cuisine, in which you can taste various ingredients in the freshest state, and menus that everyone can enjoy, so try them when you travel there.
'Grilled Black Pork,' the No. 1 Favorite Food for Tourists in Jeju
Grilled black pork is ranked as the number one Jeju regional cuisine preferred by tourists. Jeju residents have raised black pigs as livestock since ancient times, and they used to eat pork whenever they had rituals. The black pigs are strong and sturdy, having adapted to the climate and natural characteristics of the island for a long time. Therefore, the meat is chewy and juicy compared to regular pork, so you can enjoy the rich taste.
You can enjoy black pork the best when it is thickly sliced and grilled crispy on a hot grill. When eating cooked meat, it is good to taste the original meat with a bit of salt. It is crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and juicy with every bite. After you try the meat for the first time, it is recommended to dip it in the boiled 'Myeolchi Jeot/Salted Anchovies' for your second taste. Dipping pork in salted seafood is a food culture in Jeju, which is rich in seafood. Although the combination doesn't seem to go well, the unique savory and salty taste of salted seafood enhances the flavor of pork. The taste is very rich and savory, and the more you chew, the more tempting it is.
Heukdonga Head Restaurant in Jeju/ Grilled Black Pork (170g) 21,000 won
11, Halladaehak-ro, Jeju-si, Jeju-do
Kalguksu/Noodle Soup and Jeon/Pancake Made with Chewy Sea Conch, Bomal/Brown Turban Shell
'Bomal Kalguksu/Noodle Soup with Brown Turban Shell' and 'Bomal Jeon/Pancake with Brown Turban Shell' are popular menus in Jeju that people who know the taste must eat. Bomal is a dialect of Jeju and refers to brown turban shells living in the sea. It is easy to catch them because Jeju is an island. If you turn over the rocks at low tide, you can see them clinging to each other. They are chewy and plain, so they are commonly used in various dishes such as soup, porridge, and kalguksu/noodle soup.
Among the dishes made with brown turban shells, kalguksu and jeon are dishes that anyone can enjoy. Kalguksu is a dish made by boiling thick flour noodles in seafood broth, and when you put ground brown turban shells in, the soup turns green. It has a thick and savory taste, and seaweed 'maesaengi/seaweed fulvescens' or 'tot/hijiki' is sometimes added, depending on the restaurant, so that you can feel the strong scent of the sea. Bomaljeon is a dish made by putting brown turban shells in flour dough and frying them like a pancake. The soft yet crispy texture is attractive. In particular, the brown turban shells stuffed in the pancake add chewiness, so you can experience a pleasant meal.
BomalBomal / Bomal Kalguksu/Noodle Soup with Brown Turban Shells and Bomal Jeon/Pancake with Brown Turban Shells 12,000 won each
57, Aewol-ro, Aewol-eup, Jeju-si, Jeju-do
Refreshing 'Tangerines' Growing only in Warm Jeju
Tangerines are the most important crop in Jeju's agriculture. Tangerines naturally grow in a subtropical climate, but Jeju-do in Korea has warm weather even in winter, unlike inland regions, so it is possible to grow tangerines. November to December is the season when tangerines are in the open field, and if you go to Jeju at this time, you can easily see tangerine trees on the streets. Yellow tangerines contrasting with the black stone wall create a charming landscape.
There are many types of tangerines, but palm-sized 'Onjumilgam' are the most cultivated. The skin is thin, sweet, and has a strong refreshing taste. There is also a 'Mangamnyu' similar to orange, but it is called by names such as Hallabong, Cheonhyehyang, and Redhyang. These tangerines are characterized by thick skin, high sugar content, and soft pulp.
Tangerines are delicious even if you eat them as they are, but they are good fruits for dessert. Every cafe in Jeju sells delicious tangerine desserts such as smoothies, ade, teas, and cakes, so it's good to try the taste. In winter, many places offer tangerine-picking only for the season, and you can pick and taste tangerines directly from the farm and take home about 1kg. If you go to the Seogwipo Citrus Museum, you can experience tangerine-picking and make tangerine pizza, cookies, and muffins. If you are interested, make a reservation before visiting.
Seogwipo Citrus Museum, Cafe Kkumnada
○ 441, Hyodonsunhwan-ro, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do (The cafe is on the 2nd floor of the main building)
https://culture.seogwipo.go.kr/citrus Check how to experience and fee on the website. (Tangerine picking (winter season only), tangerine pizza making, cookie muffin making, etc.)
Vegan restaurants in Gyeongju, the ancient capital of the Korean peninsula
An analog city in digital era
Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do Province is a city that holds ancient memories of time and a place that offers unique local culture to all visitors. The charm of Gyeongju is that you will see random ruins and royal tombs while you casually walk down its streets. Recently, new vegan restaurants are popping up in Gyeongju, widening the dining options for vegan visitors. Although it may look like a city slumbering in ancient times, Gyeongju is a place of diverse culinary opportunities and a great vegan destination.
Woljeonggyo Bridge to Gyochon Village
Woljeonggyo Bridge has been restored in 2018 after 10 years of research and historical investigation on the boat-shaped bridge discovered on site and records in ancient manuscripts. It offers a magnificent facade of the largest wooden bridge in Korea but the true beauty of it lies in its reflection on the water. Visit this bridge at night, and you will be awestruck by the amazing harmony of the classic facade and modern lights that is attracting many visitors after its restoration.
The art of waiting for a slow but honest vegan cafe
Fast-changing, but they always taste the same! 10:00 in the morning, the vegan cafe opens, and it becomes busy at an instant. This vegan cafe is a fair game for everyone as it does not take any reservations or pre-orders but serves daily baked loaves of bread to customers as they come. They reduced the use of refined ingredients and prefer natural ones, so their products may look a bit rough on their edges, but their tastes are widely praised.
Have a warm cup of coffee and freshly baked loaves of bread and immerse yourself in the slow current of time to enjoy the most relaxing trip.
Just the set amount and no more for the day, serving the delicious “dried radish leaf” dishes
This place has a simple and cute name and serves neat and proper foods that fit the name. You would better make a reservation beforehand as it cooks only a set amount of ingredients and calls it a day when that runs out. It is a tiny restaurant with a single hall and 5-6 tables, but what they cook in the kitchen is larger than that. Well-soaked dried radish leaves are made into dried radish leaf rice and dried radish leaf pancake that will impress you with never-tasted-before smoothness.
Fresh and healthy ingredients are balanced with scrip and soft textures and clean and nutty flavors that will satisfy your mouth and belly. Have a bowl of rice wine with this meal to satisfy your vegan souls.
A stroll around Seochulji Pond after a meal
There is a reservoir called Seochulji which was created during the Silla period. You may think of reservoirs as glorified water tanks, but this place is a tastefully designed garden. Make sure to visit Seochulji Pond for a light stroll after a great meal.
Have a feast of vegan soy meat!
Let us introduce a vegan feast that adds luxury and proper tastes, not just being the pale shadow of non-vegan meals. This place is a relaxing space for a cup of tea and has options other than vegan menus, but it has a wide range of vegetarian menus, so it is worth a visit if you are a vegan or vegetarian.
You will be amazed at the sight of a table full of the feast that offers spicy soy meat bulgogi, deep-fried soy meat with sweet and sour sauce, vegan bulgogi, and perilla seed soup. They may not have the same smell and juice as the actual meat, but they have sauces just as good and clean tastes for a satisfying meal. Rice and soup are served in brass bowls and will be kept warm until the very last mouthful.
Nowadays, more Koreans are choosing vegetarian diets for their principles and health. Vegan-friendly restaurants are sprouting up in Seoul, but a few are in regional areas. However, Gyeongju is a hot place of diverse vegan restaurants where you can enjoy plant-based dishes as well as various attractions such as Bomun Tourist Complex, Daereungwon Ancient Tombs, Woljeonggyo Bridge, Cheomseongdae Observatory, Hwangnidangil Street, and more. Have a relaxing tour around the cultural heritages of beautiful Gyeongju and have vegan dishes for your culinary satisfaction.
“Squid Game” in Sokcho? The variety of flavors
Visit the lively squid market!
Korea is surrounded by sea on three sides, and the East Sea is known for its clear and blue water. It will be a special experience for everyone to meet fresh squids that are caught in the ocean and delivered to the fish market at every dawn. Sokcho on the eastern coast of Korea is famous for squids. You can visit the squid market near Dongmyeonghang Port to see the true liveliness of Korea.
Glossy squids in the bustling crowds
When squid-catching boats come right before the squid market in early morning, the squid stall sellers come to auction the squids with their handcarts. Their strong squirts from the squids tell how fresh they are. When the squids are loaded on handcarts and moved to each stall, it is time to prepare the foods for customers. With the rising sun and the gleaming sea in the background, see the cheerful faces and shouts of people working at the stalls and fill up your energy.
Squid Season in July to November
In Korea, squids are in season from July to November. But the best ones are caught between October and November and the squid market stalls are bustling with crowds at this time. Enjoy a table load of sliced raw squid, steamed whole squid, squid ramyeon, grilled sailfin sandfish, and grilled sand eel! It is a breakfast feast fit for a king. Feel the warmth of briquette fire in the bustling crowds and sip hot broth. It will almost feel nostalgic.
Three squids are more than enough
Steamed whole squid can be enjoyed with fresh squids only. A whole squid from its guts to ink is a medley of freshness, and sliced raw squid will offer chewy and nutty sweetness to your tastebuds. If you find raw squid is too much, we recommend squid ramyeon. The bouncy noodles and the ocean flavor from a squid will give warmth to your body that shivers in cold winds. The price of squid in the squid market stalls varies according to the daily market price, so make sure to check the price before you order.
Stuffed Squid in Sokcho Abai Village
Korea is a divided country and there are people who left their hometown in the North and settled in the South during the Korean War. Sokcho Abai Village is created by these refugees who lost their way back home. In nostalgia, they made foods from their home and this tradition is continuing. Abai sundae (North Korean sundae) and stuffed squid are some of these foods. Abai Village in Sokcho became a famous tourist attraction with the old restaurants that make sundae and stuffed squid generation after generation.
A simple but proper meal
The restaurants in Abai Village may look rundown, but you will know why so many people come here to have a meal once the plates are set with proper, neat, and wholesome side dishes. There is nothing like having stuffed squid, Abai sundae slices that are packed with ingredients, and pollack salad. Have a mouthful of chewy food and the spicy pollack salad, and finish with pickled perilla leaves. You will know what true happiness is. Warm sundae soup is also a good choice. Make sure to taste the warm and hearty flavors of Korea in Abai Village when you are in Sokcho!
Squid Bread in Jungang Market
Jungang Market (Sokcho Tourist Fish Market) is the most famous market in Sokcho. Usually, you will find finger foods and snacks in Korean traditional markets. And in Jungang Market in Sokcho, you will find squid bread. They do not just look like squid but have squid bits in them. With added red beans, kimchi, vegetables, cheese, etc. as innards, you will be able to taste diverse flavors.
Don’t miss out on Sokcho Spicy Deep-fried and Braised Chicken
Sokcho is well known for its spicy deep-fried and braised chicken. In Jungang Market, you will find 5-6 large shops that sell this delicacy. They are putting more efforts in to keep the cooking environment clean than in the past, so you will be able to purchase this delicious box-packaged chicken dish in pristine shops. They are tasty even when they are cold, so make sure to get a box and sit down on a nearby beach and enjoy them.
Meet various types of squid
Dried seafood stalls are yet another attraction that you can find in Jungang Market. Fresh squids at the squid market stalls are amazing, but dried squid is a food that you cannot miss here. Squids are dried in the ocean breeze and taste like the salty sea but also leave nutty sweetness to your pallet. Jungang Market offers various types of processed squids caught in Korean oceans. It will be a great opportunity to purchase quality local dried seafood here.
The Netflix series “Squid Game” is taking the world by storm, and Korean squids are sneaking onto the trend. Visit Sokcho, the region of Korean squids, and taste diverse squid dishes here. There are not just foods here. Sokcho is full of amazing attractions such as the wonderfully vast view of the East Sea, Beombawi Rock, Yeongnangho Lake, Naksansa Temple, and more. Visit during the squid season and enjoy all these that Sokcho has to offer.
Global health food Bibimbap leaping forward amid COVID-19 pandemic
Jeonju, the home of best Bibimbap
Bibimbap is one of the representative Korean dishes. It has low calories while having many vegetables and greens that are good for your health, meeting the global health trend. Jeonju, Jeollabuk-do Province is known for its special “Jeonju Bibimbap,” which is made of high-quality local bean sprouts, mung bean jelly, beef tartare, various seasoned vegetables, and rice cooked with beef bone broth.
Hot Stone Pot Bibimbap
Those who never saw a stone pot will be surprised by its long-lasting warmth. Hot stone pot bibimbap is bibimbap served in a sizzling hot stone pot that cooks the rice at the bottom to the crisp so that you can enjoy the scorched rice at the end of the meal.
Fresh Beef Tartare Bibimbap
Normal bibimbap is an assortment of seasoned vegetables and cooked beef, but freshness is essential for beef tartare bibimbap as it uses raw beef slices. Beef tartare in bibimbap is lean meat without any marbling and this gives off clear yet nutty flavor of meat. The critical part is that the rice should be served not too hot. If the rice or bowl is too hot, beef tartare will be cooked. Mix an egg yolk in with the beef tartare on top of bibimbap to enhance its flavors. Mix the ingredients well to taste raw beef and fresh seasonal vegetables.
Wild Vegetable Bibimbap, the garden of seasonal vegetables
Wild vegetable bibimbap is made of stir-fried or seasoned wild vegetables harvested from the heels and fields around us. These vegetables are often dried after their harvest for storage, so some say that this dish is the epitome of Korean wisdom. This dish uses minimal sauces to enhance the natural flavors of the ingredients themselves. Diners will add soy sauce, red chili paste, and sesame oil before having this healthy bowl of exploding flavors and nutritional values.
Bibimbap tells you the sentiment of Korea that mixes and share everything, the character of the local area, and the balance of ingredients! Have a taste of this bowl of Korean warmth. There is no set recipe for bibimbap. Put everything that you have now in and mix it with sauce, and there you have your very own bowl of bibimbap.
Grilled Galbi Patties of Damyang, the home of bamboo groves
Damyang, Jeollanam-do Province has the largest bamboo grove in Korea. It is home to 34% of all Korean bamboo groves and their history goes back a thousand years. That is why visitors to Damyang never forget to go to Juknokwon, a bamboo forest, and Soswaewon, a beautiful bamboo garden. If you had your fill of evergreen bamboos, it's time to eat. We recommend you visit a nearby food street and get Damyang’s special dishes such as steamed rice in bamboo tube, grilled galbi patties, bamboo shoot dishes, Damyang noodles, and more. Grilled galbi patties is a specialty of Damyang. Made of ground boneless galbi, its soft texture is a favorite of old and young.
Damyang Grilled Galbi Patties, cooked over charcoal
It is not certain when grilled galbi patties became Damyang’s specialty food. But every Korean will connect the name Damyang with this dish. Traditional grilled galbi patties have a soft texture and exquisite flavors and shape. It is made of pure galbi meat without any added meat and marinated in natural sauce. If you are not up to visit Damyang yourself, you can also make it at home. These days, there are many varieties of ingredients that go into this dish. Put rice cakes, burdock roots, cheese, or mushrooms to add a bit of modern flavor to this traditional recipe.
Vegan Grilled Galbi Patties
Now, veganism became a solid dietary trend in Korea. There has been a similar culinary culture such as Buddhist temple foods, but the vegan trend is gaining a new spotlight in Korea, thanks to the increased interest in a healthy diet because of the COVID-19 pandemic and many new vegan recipes are being developed. Korea has been making many dishes that replace meat with soy meat. These days, diverse brands are providing vegan products that use soy meat and bean curds. Not only vegan grilled galbi patties but also vegan steak, mandu soup, spicy beef soup, and japchae with chili pepper are receiving a lot of good reviews from overseas visitors who practice vegetarian or vegan diets.
Patty Versus Galbi Patty
There are no limits to recipes using grilled galbi patties. If the United States has hamburger patties, Korea has grilled galbi patties. Why don’t you use grilled galbi patties to make a Korean-style burger? Add stir-fried mushrooms, braised onions, or pimpinella to grilled galbi patties to add flavors and make your very own burger. Make a Korean galbi patty burger. It will surely present you with unique flavors that you have never experienced with other burgers.