With another short visit to Jeju, I had the pleasure of alternating from my favorite restaurants (Jeju Haemul Bab, House 142, “Acorns in the Forest“) to new places that have been on my radar for quite some time. A few, in particular, are Olle Guksu and Jamae Guksu, two popular restaurants serving one of Jeju’s finest: Gogi Guksu (Pork Noodle Soup). I rode up on a late afternoon (around 2ish) to Olle only to find it packed with an army of people in and around the restaurant, all the bad signs for a hungry person and even worse for a food blogger. And judging by all the people with their fancy cameras in tow, I wasn’t the only blogger there ready to write up a review on one’s Naver blog and post pics to their Instagram acct. Without regret, I scurried out of there and took my chances elsewhere. Lucky me, all good things come to those who don’t wait as I fortuitously stumbled upon two solid restaurants in Oedo-dong (more specifically Naedo-dong, a 15-minute drive west of Jeju City) that serve some delicious set meals without all the hoopla.
Situated on opposite sides of the street from one another, Jeju Bulbaek 제주 불백 and “Are You Eating Well?” 밥은 먹고 다니냐? (a cool name for a restaurant if you’re versed in Korean) are both less than a year into operations but have already attracted loyal followers with their hearty and healthy set meals. JB features a heavy dose of BBQ options while AYEW focuses on a set meal highlighting healthy and fresh ingredients.
First up, Jeju Bulbaek, a restaurant catering to serious meat-lovers, particularly Jeju BBQ pork. Getting right to the point, they had me and my friends drooling and fighting over their wonderful variety of banchan and smoky seokseoh bulbaek 석쇠 불백 (grilled spicy pork bulgogi). Nicely cooked under briquettes and charcoals, the meat had a wonderfully smoky flavor with a nice little kick in spiciness. Although named bulgogi, there was nothing sweet or beefy about the dish. If I had my way, I’d call it a smoked version of jeyuk bokkeum (spicy stir-fried pork) minus all the sauce and vegetables. Along with the “bulgogi,” thinly shaved leeks are cooked for a brief time on a flat stone grill to provide a nice balance in taste and texture. The banchan (side dishes) were fresh, tasty, and bountiful, with the sookjeon (mugwort pancake) being a surprise and welcome addition. At 9,000 won per person, it’s a great deal for lunch or dinner with other pork cuts available (e.g. samgyeopsal and daepa samgyeopsal). Oh, and don’t forget the nostalgic dosirak (lunch box) at 3,000 won!
“Are You Eating Well?” offers home-style set meals with a focus on fresh, local ingredients that’s been sourced primarily on the island with a few items from the mainland. As the name suggests, the emphasis is on eating healthy meals (boyangsik 보양식) to heal the body and mind. I’ve had quite a few jeongsik (set meals) during my time in Korea, but this was one of the more memorable meals that I’ve had in a long time. The mains of jeyuk bokkeum (spicy stir-fried pork) and okdom gui (grilled sea bream) were both cooked and seasoned to perfection; the banchan were fresh as could be and flavored ever so lightly to let the ingredient itself shine through; lastly, the fragrant “curry” rice was a nice surprise that made eating rice, well, enjoyable. Other positives include their spacious, artsy, inviting, and very modern design, inside and out, that allows diners to enjoy delicious food in an equally impressive setting. The only negative was the service, which was a tad slow from the husband and wife team who run the entire operations, Nevertheless, I highly recommend this place before it turns into a circus a la Olle and Jamae Guksu.
Food: ★★★★½ out of 5 stars
Service: ★★★½ out of 5 stars
Ambiance: 5 out of 5 stars
Value: ★★★★½ out of 5 stars
“Are You Eating Well? (밥은 먹고 다니냐?)
720 Naedo-dong, Jeju City
Hours: Every day 11am ~ 8pm, closed Sundays
Click here for an interactive map: http://me2.do/5voxXY8A
Food: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
Service: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
Ambiance: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
Value: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
Jeju Bulbaek (제주 불백)
654-1 Naedo-dong, Jeju City
Hours: Every day 11am ~ 10am, break time from 3 ~ 5pm
Click here for an interactive map: http://me2.do/5KTL1O5i