▲ Owner Hyun Yeji’s house specialties include coffee, wine, juices, light meals, and a cozy environment. Photos by Susan Shain
The name of Café Wind & Wish is more than just cute and catchy. According to owner Hyun Yeji, the café is named for “the wind of Jeju Island” and her lifelong “wish” to open the establishment.
The fact that Café Wind & Wish is the result of a lifelong dream was quite evident during our visit. In addition to Hyun’s outstanding service, there is charm in every detail of the café, right down to the embossed napkins. The café was even awarded a Blue Ribbon, a recognition from Korea’s only nationwide restaurant rating organization, the Blue Ribbon Survey.
My friend and I felt a bit like Hansel and Gretel (sans the witch part) walking up the rock path to the café, which would best be described as a cottage. Painted a warm yellow, embellished in stone, and tucked away in the woods behind Sancheondan (“Mountain-Heaven Altar,” an ancient site for paying respect to Mt. Halla), the whole area seems almost enchanted.
Wooden picnic tables sit on the hill in front of the café. Empty wine bottles are carefully arranged under bright murals, serving both as decoration and a testament to the many people that have happily emptied them on the premises.
The café’s interior is eclectic, cozy and drenched in sunlight. A half-dozen wooden tables are spread throughout the small room, with colorful postcards, more empty wine bottles, plants, and a few Christ-mas decorations all combining to create a very homey feel. There is one booth with cushioned seating — to which we immediately laid claim. No review of the café would be complete without mentioning Bong-Cha, the adorable resident cat, who adds to the welcoming vibes by wandering the grounds at will. The menu is a bit pricey, but the atmosphere and service make up for the extra money spent. The various hand-drip coffees, the café’s specialty, hail from all over the world including Central America, Indonesia, Ethiopia and Kenya and are priced at 5,000 won. As I am unable to sleep if I drink coffee after 10 a.m., we passed on sampling, but it smelled and looked delicious.
On the other hand, I am fine with drinking wine at any time of the day, so we ordered that to start. The easy, medium-bodied house red is 7,000 won a glass, and generous pours make it a decent bargain. The other alcoholic offerings are beer, from 5,000 to 7,000 won, and whiskey, from Jack Daniels for 80,000 won to Crown Royal for 150,000 won a bottle.
There are also a variety of specialty drinks — from Asian apricot tea to fresh-squeezed tomato kiwi juice, with prices from 5,000 to 7,000 won. I could not try them all, so I ordered the most exotic sounding item — rubus coreanus (also known as Korean black raspberry) juice. Though beautifully presented, the juice’s flavor was extremely strong, and not to my taste. I asked Hyun to recommend my next drink, and she suggested lemonade. It was fizzy and thirst-quenching, with a delightful bitterness that told you it was made from scratch.
There are three food offerings on the menu — chicken salad, curry rice, and omelet rice. Sadly, we missed the curry rice, which is only available until 4 p.m.
The chicken salad was massive and clearly meant to share — as it should be for the 15,000 won price tag. The greens were basic but were dressed in a light and pleasing citrus vinaigrette along with fresh cherry tomatoes. The scrumptiously-spiced chicken was a standout, though as a whole, the dish was unremarkable.
As my friend is a vegetarian, we were happy to find out that the omelet is meat-free. At 8,000 won, this hearty choice is definitely the better deal. It consists of an omelet filled with fried rice, peppers, carrots, and onions, all drenched in a yummy curry sauce.
Hyun, who moved to Jeju 16 years ago, said (unsurprisingly) that the 10 months since the café’s opening have been “very busy” and that the guests have been “very happy.”
I would highly recommend Café Wind & Wish to anyone looking for a bit of tranquility. As we were leaving, my friend said to me, “You can really tell that [Hyun] cares about this place. She wants you to be happy.” I could not agree more.
Café Wind & Wish Hours: 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. Tuesday - Sunday Phone: 070-7799-1103 Café Wind & Wish is just past Jeju National University. To get there, follow directions to Sancheondan Altar. (From Jeju City by car, take 1131 south past Ara Primary School. From Sin-Jeju, take 1136 east, turn right at the Nanji Agricultural Research Center, then turn right on 1131.) When you see signs for the altar, turn right, and the café will be on your right.
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