▲ This café is a converted house in rural Daepyeong. On offer, all sorts of coffee, drinks and teas. Photo by Steve Oberhauser
This article on café ... [mulgogi] is the first to be featured in a five-part series detailing The Jeju Weekly’s best coffee house picks on the island. — Ed.
The owner of café ... [mulgogi] is a serene woman of few words. Her establishment speaks for itself. The typical weekend scene consists mostly of mainland Koreans waiting outside for their turn to occupy one of only four spots inside this converted 1969-built-village-house café in rural Daepyeong, near Hwasun Beach and Sanbangsan, on Jeju’s South side.
Sure, whatever you order at café ... [mulgogi] will be worth having. However, the real reasons to come are the Korean ambiance, interior design, and comfort. There’s no need to hurry.
Or drinking coffee for that matter, as the ever-changing menu has many things to imbibe: tea, beer, coffee, soju, hot chocolate, whiskey and juice.
A friend and I passed on coffee, six selections of which are available (Americano, espresso, lungo, cappuccino, café latte, and iced coffee, all priced between 4,000 and 5,500 won) and opted instead for three herb teas and one black tea, each 5,500 won, refills included.
It took us a while to figure out what was going on. The interior design blends Korean traditional paper on square windows, known as changhoji, artistic wall designs done in soil, hardwood floors and vertical beams individually juxtaposed with modern twists like bucket seats on trendy bottoms; dangling light fixtures all askew; colorful pillows; and one masterfully crafted, concentric-circled, branch-twisted, earth-hippie bead curtain.
There are also books, pictures, upbeat-yet-slow-tempo music, and a few unidentifiable objects all mishmashed into a creation that makes for a supreme place to drink something tasty.
“It just is,” café ... [mulgogi] owner Lee Hye Young said of the inside feel, explaining she made the dark orange wall design with soil. “My husband and I originally wanted to open up a fish restaurant.” That didn’t happen. The two-year-old café, named “mulgogi,” Korean for fish, is what resulted.
It’s a popular place smack dab in a village and almost impossible to find, even for a Korean. Lee said Korean bloggers and word-of-mouth recommendations are mostly responsible for the success.
Lee’s husband also happens to be Jeju University Professor Jang Seon Woo, a film director whose many movies include “Seoul Jesus,” “Age of Success,” “A Petal,” “Lies,” and “To You, from Me.”
In the warmer months, seating is available in an outside garden that has views of farmland, sea, and striated cliffs abutting the salt water.
Inside, our tea choices were served in solid glass decanters with matching glass cups. Forest Berries and Honey Bush Garden were two choices worth repeating. The Ceylon Malinga Original black tea was solid, while the Lemon Myrtle was ho-hum.
The menu has some choices worth checking out. It may be best for a Korean to call ahead, and for directions, since the menu has seen many adjustments and revisions. Specials are written on a board. Brunch is a possibility, and side dishes are served.
Side dishes offered include tofu kimchi and seasoned pork (20,000 won), cuttlefish and a Jeju sausage set (25,000 won) and a cheese platter (30,000 won).
Finally, for the fashionable, one of eight available beers is Guinness (9,000 won). Additionally, 500ml of Hwayo 41 soju runs 55,000 won, and a 700ml bottle of Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky tops out at 200,000 won.
Come here to relax. There are plenty of unexpected choices at café ... [mulgogi].
café ... [mulgogi] #804 Daepyeong-ri, Andeok-myeon, Seogwipo T: 070-8147-0804 Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, noon to 9 p.m.
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