“Finally!” I exclaimed as I circled the block one last time and spotted the sign for the restaurant I was looking for. Tucked away in a back alley just minutes from Ora Stadium and the central bus terminal, four-month-old Sariwon is a little hard to find but worth the extra effort.
Just meters off the main road, a winding path led me past a convenience store to a small white building. I opened the door and entered the restaurant. There were no customers inside yet as it was still early. Perfect, as I’d brought my camera and didn’t want any distractions.
As the door closed behind me I was greeted by the owner of the restaurant, Huh Jong Hun. While he led me to my table he explained that while his restaurant was new to this location, he had been in business for 10 years. This was encouraging as I was looking forward to a meal made by experienced hands.
The side dishes came quickly and were simple, mirroring the restaurants spartan interior. I nibbled away at an assortment of kimchi, chili peppers, and canola stems. Not bad!
But, I thought, you don’t come to this restaurant for fancy ambiance and exotic appetizers. This place is all about the main course: meat.
There are only two dishes on the menu, haejangguk (beef broth hangover soup, 5,000 won) and galbijjim (steamed pork ribs — 25,000 won for a large pot / 5,000 won for an individual serving).
I ordered the galbijjim, one of my favorite Korean dishes, and just as I finished the last morsel of pumpkin side dish, it arrived in a huge steaming pot.
The owner patiently waited while I snapped a handful of photos and then he turned on a small burner and within minutes I was eating a hearty meal. I often find that galbijjim is made too sweet for my tastes. But a nice balance of fresh ingredients (onions, carrots, leeks, ginger, garlic, and apples) gave the tender meat just the right mix of spice and sweetness.
“Come again!” he shouted with a smile as I left the restaurant.
I certainly will.
Sariwon Address: 10-1 Ora-ro 18 gil, Jeju City Hours: 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day, except major national holidays Phone: 064-723-9289 / dmaps.kr/87t9
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