There are not many opportunities for my girlfriend and me to travel long distances on our current mode of transportation (i.e. scooter), especially in winter when strong winds and sleet are the norm. However, whenever we have friends or family come visit, we make sure to do the rental car thing and explore other parts of the island. Lucky for us, we recently found out about a great cafe/pension/restaurant named Dream Forest in Sunheulri, Jocheon-eup, which is about a 45-minute drive from city hall and a 20-minute drive from Hamdeok Beach. We went for the food but got something much more in return.
Located on 12 acres of land (think 9 football fields), they grow a variety of herbs like rosemary and mint and utilize them in most of their dishes. Specifically for the pork dishes (using Jeju Black Pig), they marinate the meat in a combination of herbs to remove not only unwanted smells and odor, but also to enhance the pork’s flavor during the cooking stage. Our order of the recommended Heck Dwegji Jeyuk Ssam Bab (Spicy Pork Wraps using Black Pork) was a nice example of this. Although I generally don’t make an effort to sniff and smell my food before eating, I did just that and yep, no unwanted porky smell. After the sniffing, we thoroughly enjoyed the combination of pork belly, carrots, onions, and sprouts that were stir-fried and smothered in a savory, semi-sweet gochujang-based sauce. To my liking, the sauce was perfect with subtle tones of the aforementioned herbs, and it was definitely one of those sauces that you don’t let go to waste . The other dishes were traditional fare of Soondubu Jjigae (Spicy Soft Tofu Soup) and Jeonbok Ttukbaegi (Abalone Hot Pot), with the latter having a more pronounced dwenjang (fermented soybeans) flavor instead of being overly spicy. Both were nice and refreshing to the last bite. Lest I forget, the owners made it clear to me that no extra MSG or artificial ingredients were used in any of the dishes, which makes them not only delicious but healthy as well.
With a name like “Dream Forest,” there should be at least some mention of the atmosphere. Upon arrival, we immediately noticed the peculiar yet unique box-like exterior of the restaurant made from a combination of logs and stones. The first thing you notice when you walk in is the recreated tree trunk extending up to the ceiling, which itself has been painted in contrasting colors to represent the night sky and another dimension in time (in honor of The Little Prince according to the owners). Then you have all the personal knickknacks and mementos scattered in the restaurant, including a cute section with stuffed animals, another area for vintage cameras, musical instruments for live performances (?), and handwritten messages/notes written on mini-pieces of wood. Last and not least, the outdoor herb garden and small pond provided a tranquil atmosphere for a post-meal stroll. Sadly, there was no real “dream forest” (it’s winter time), but when spring rolls around we’ll definitely be back to try out their other signature dishes like bibimbab (rice w vegetables) and sujebi (hand-torn pasta). 🙂
Food: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
Service: ★★★½ out of 5 stars
Ambiance: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
Value: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
“Dream Forest” 꿈의숲
2072 Sunheul-ri, Jocheon-eup, Jeju City (제주시 조천읍 선흘리 2072)
Hours of Operation: Open every day from 11am ~ 7pm / Closed on Tuesdays
Click here for the restaurant’s official webpage (in Korean): http://blog.naver.com/milim9181
Click here for directions: http://me2.do/x13tE9m9