Another BBQ restaurant? That was my initial reaction when The Jeju Weekly invited me to review and photograph the food at Haeoreum Sikdang, a popular Jeju pork restaurant. I love Korean food, especially spicy stews and soups. But when it comes to restaurants that specialize in grilled meat, I find that its usually greasy, burns too easily, and there isn’t much variation in the taste from restaurant to restaurant. Would this place be any different?
We arrived in front of the restaurant, located near London Sauna in Shin Jeju, and were promptly greeted by a fantastic stone statue of a giant “heuk dwaeji,” or black pig with a huge chunk of meat, also stone, stuffed in its mouth. I promised myself that I would photograph it before we left that night.
We were met at the entrance by the owner, Park Sung Hun. A pleasant man and father of two, the 39-year-old joined the family business straight out of the army 17 years ago and has never looked back. With a smile and an expansive wave of his hand he seated us at our table, left for a moment, and swiftly returned with a nearly 2-meter-long skewer loaded with enough meat and vegetables to feed 10 people. Halla pork ribs, potatoes, sweet potatoes, red and yellow peppers, onion, pig skin, garlic, squash and mushrooms. It was a wonderful sight.
As he slid the food off the skewer and cut it into smaller pieces so that it could be cooked on our grill, he explained to us that the big skewer costs 150,000 won (for 10 people and reservations are required), but customers can also order a smaller version which feeds four to five for 70,000 won. He went on to say that 98 percent of the restaurant’s meat comes from his older sister’s farm located just minutes away. This would account for the taste of the food because it was terrific! The meat was soft and juicy with just a hint of sweet sauce gently glazed on the pork’s surface. The vegetables were fresh, and the side dishes, especially the broccoli topped with red chili pepper and sesame oil, complimented the meal well.
We left the restaurant full and satisfied and, after I’d snapped a photo of the giant pig at the entrance of the restaurant and jumped into a cab, I thought to myself: This is a restaurant that I’ll definitely visit again. Haeoreum Sikdang. 1047-2 Nohhyeong-dong, Jeju City. Open every day except national holidays. 064-744-0367.
Douglas MacDonald is a Canadian-born English teacher and freelance photographer. He has spent 10 years documenting life and landscapes in Jeju and is a regular contributor to The Jeju Weekly. He won a “Fine Arts” prize in the 2010 Jeju UN World Heritage International photo contest. You can see more of his work at flickr.com/photos/dmacs_photos.
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