Spring has finally sprung with warm temperatures being the norm rather than the exception. And with that, my girlfriend and I once again get to explore every nook and cranny of the island on our scooter without freezing to death. This past weekend, we ventured around Aewol (near Gwakji Beach) and immediately spotted a unique restaurant on the main road. Upon close inspection, half the walls and windows of the small eatery were covered with Post-it note messages from satisfied customers and foodie fanatics from the mainland. Along with that, there were a few celebrity signage next to the menu board affirming that the place was indeed a matjib 맛집 (great restaurant). Personally, I feel a slight disdain for restaurants that splatter promotional signatures all over their walls and prefer to see actual food pics. However, once we got talking to the very personable owner, we knew the food would be great because, from previous experiences, we have yet to have sub-par food from genuinely nice owners/chefs/cooks.
We arrived there a little past 11 o’clock in the morning with no sign of life inside the restaurant. However, the front door was unlocked, so I made myself at home by entering and calling for some service. The place was obviously closed since their “open for business” light was off, but we were pretty hungry from running around in the morning and I was personally feeling antsy from lack of food. Luckily the owner ajeoshi stumbled out from the back room hair disheveled and hangover written all over him. Having pity on us for some reason despite not opening until noon, he graciously took our order as we played with his adorable white dog, Sadie.
As with most of my favorite restaurants, there’s only a handful of dishes here at Gwakji Guksi 곽지국시. The main ones are Jeju’s own gogi guksu (pork noodle soup), myeolchi guksu (anchovy noodle soup), bibim guksu (sweet n spicy noodles), plus a few seasonal items for summer. We went with the gogi guksu, bibim guksu, and a three piece order of jjin mandu (steamed dumplings). Talk about holy trinity of foods, this was one of the better meals (and totally unexpected) that I had had in a long time. The combination of the three items were simply perfect: The goki guksu w its meaty, milky broth provided a very soothing, invigorating component; the bibim guksu added a lovely sweet, sour, and vinegary contrast; and lastly, the mandu were soft and meaty. Even the side dishes, although simple, worked in perfect harmony with the mains. Although the restaurant is farther out than what we’re used to traveling (30 minute drive west from Jeju City), we’ll definitely be back in summer for their seasonal dishes and to visit our new furry friend, Sadie. 🙂
He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise. ~ Henry David Thoreau
Food: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
Service: ★★★★½ out of 5 stars
Ambiance: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
Value: ★★★★★ out of 5 stars
Gwakji Guksi (곽지국시)
1667-15 Gwakji-ri, Aewol-eup, Jeju City (제주시 애월읍 곽지리 1667-15)
Hours: 12:00pm ~ 9:00pm
Directions via Interactive map: http://me2.do/GNraXElq