Jeju Tosok 제주 토속 (City Hall, Jeju City)

With a friendly recommendation from someone in the know, I had the pleasure of eating at a no-fuss, hole-in-the-wall restaurant that specializes in traditional Jeju cuisine near City Hall. Lucky for me, I was surprised to find it right inside the entrance of a market that I happen to pass by quite frequently, Bosung Market. It’s a traditional shopping area that sells practically everything you need in one location at bargain prices. Also in this area, you’ll find plenty of established restaurants with many years of experience. Jeju Tosok is one such place. Open for over seven years, they have been serving a variety of traditional dishes like momguk (pork and seaweed soup), bingtteok (buckwheat wraps), okdom gui (grilled tilefish), and a few other goodies. And if this weren’t good enough, they are a certified 착한가격엽소 restaurant, meaning they serve quality food at more than reasonable prices (check the menu below, super cheap!).

My girlfriend and I arrived on a Sunday afternoon and the place was basically empty, which to be honest got me a little worried since most of the places we visit tend to be crowded (or at the very least have one customer). Nevertheless, we went in with an open mind (never judge a book by its cover, right?) and fortunately left with a satisfied, full stomach. We ordered the aforementioned dombae gogi, okdom gui, and bingtteok—with the latter given to us as “service” (complimentary dish) by the owners—insisting that we had to eat the bingtteok together with the okdom gui. Rather than going into specifics with each dish, I have to say that there was something very special and comforting about the meal as a whole. The soft pieces of bingtteok went perfectly with the chewy, slightly crispy fried okdom while the tender pieces of dombae gogi paired well with cabbage leaves and its accompanying banchan dishes. All in all, it was a very satisfying meal that could only be described as homey, comforting, and something similar my mom would cook for me on a whim’s notice (which is a good thing, believe me).

Just a little love and praise for the halmoni/halaboji (grandma/grandpa) duo who run the restaurant. One of the first things you notice about this place is the modest and humble decor. It begins with a cross hanging on the wall above the menu and an engraved piece of lacquered wood reading “peace” in Korean. This modesty also applies to the owners. They are, by far, the most inviting and gracious owners who make you feel right at home in their restaurant. While taking photographs before and after the meal, she sensed my curiosity about the bingtteok-making process and happily obliged with a free cooking demonstration. I don’t get that kind of treatment at other places, that’s for sure. This is one of the reasons I’ll be coming back to try out their other items like momguk, kimchi jjigae, and samgyetang.  If you haven’t tried any traditional dishes in Jeju, this might be a good place to start and I’m sure you’ll also fall in love with the owners. 🙂

 

“A man seldom thinks with more earnestness of anything than he does of his dinner.” ~ Samuel Johnson

Food: ★★★★ out of 5 stars

Service: ★★★★ out of 5 stars

Ambiance: ★★★½ out of 5 stars

Value: ★★★★★ out of 5 stars

 

Jeju Tosok 제주 토속

Ido-1dong, Bosung Traditional Market (City Hall), Jeju City

Phone: 064-758-8948

Hours of Operation: Open every day from 6am ~ 8pm

Click here for directions: http://me2.do/FERPW4Cz

 

 

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Banchan (Side Dishes)
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Okdom Gui (Semi-dried n Fried Sea Bream or Tilefish)
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Bingtteok (Buckwheat Wraps)
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Dombae Gogi (Boiled Pork Belly on Wooden Cutting Board)
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Dombae Gogi (Boiled Pork Belly on Wooden Cutting Board)
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We got three of Jeju’s traditional dishes in one setting. Not bad a spread.
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Can you believe this fish was partially dried, then fried to look like this? Most dried fish tend to be, well, dry. This had some salty, good-kind-of-fishy taste and texture that I enjoyed with the bingtteok.
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Ingredients for the bingtteok filling include radish, scallions, onion, salt, sesame seeds and oil.

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