▲ A sampling from the three nations’ cuisines. Photo by Kim Jung Lim
“Eoureong Daureong” translates from the Jeju dialect to English as “multicultural gathering,” and the Eoureong Daureong Restaurant is just that — a literal gathering of cultures. The restaurant represents three countries: Vietnam, Philippines and China. Not only is the food authentic, but the women preparing the food are originally from the representative countries.
The restaurant opened on Feb. 23, born as a project sponsored by the Seogwipo Migrant Worker’s Center, which wanted to provide a different kind of employment for immigrant women who had married Korean men from Seogwipo City. Because there are so many Korean restaurants in Seogwipo, the migrant center was looking to gain a competitive advantage and decided on a multi-ethnic theme for the restaurant and its food. Once the project was approved, they had some difficulty recruiting women because they needed approval from their families and husbands.
However, I was able to interview all three women who owned and ran the business. An interesting side note: During our visit over 30 customers visited the restaurant in just one hour.
Philippines Philippines native Rose Marie came to Jeju in 1999 and has worked with the Seogwipo Migrant Worker’s Center doing various projects such as multi-cultural presentations and has provided English tutoring to primary and secondary schools. When the opportunity came up to work at the restaurant she was thrilled and accepted the position. It allowed her to be her own boss and have her own restaurant. She loves to cook and has had previous experience with food preparation.
In discussion with Rose, it was apparent that this was her calling. The only down side of the work is that she has less time to spend with her three children. She admitted that running a business is time consuming but still she finds time to be a mother and a business women because it is worth it!
Dishes served from the Philippines are gamja (potato) omelet, rompia (the most popular Filipino item — a spring roll with meat, carrots and bean sprouts), and bbyeotang (a pork bone broth soup).
China Li Ying Yu arrived in Jeju from China in 2002. She previously ran her own restaurant for five years in her native country, so the opportunity matched her experience perfectly. The other women call her eonnie, or “older sister” in Korean.
Chinese food on the menu includes tangsuyuk (sweet and sour pork with a mixture of green pepper, carrots and pineapple), which is one of the two most popular dishes at the restaurant; dobu bokkeum (a mixture of tofu with meat and vegetables); xianglarousi (meat, fried noodles and peppers) and dumpling soup. The dumplings are filled with hand minced chicken and green onion and two holes are made in the dumplings so the soup can be infused. This is another popular Chinese dish.
Vietnam Pham Thi Cam Loan came to Jeju three years ago from Vietnam. She admits she couldn’t cook very well at first, but gradually she improved and the other women now praise her for her work. She explains life in Korea was difficult at first because of the language barrier, but she overcame it and looks forward to coming to work every day with her new family, she said.
Vietnamese menu items include Vietnamese rice noodle soup with pork; shrimp and bean sprouts served with a slice of lemon to squeeze over the soup; Vietnamese ssam, which is meat and a mixture of vegetables served with rice paper that you use to wrap the dish yourself.
Together the three women have become a strong multicultural team, having all learned to cook each others’ recipes and they have also become good friends. I enjoyed the rompia, the tangsuyuk and the Vietnamese rice noodle soup, which are among some of the more popular dishes served at the Eoureong Daureong Restaurant.
Their restaurant is already famous among the migrant population on Jeju, although many other people are now discovering the unique pleasures of new flavors on the island.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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