▲ Sea Blue Restaurant and Bar offers a range of simple meal options, such as the cheeseburger above, and the views from the restaurant and both deck levels are spectacular. Photo by Tracie Barrett
When I returned to Jeju Island in December, my first meal was with friends at Sea Blue Restaurant and Bar at Hamdeok Beach. Overlooking one of Jeju’s most beautiful shorelines, Sea Blue has a perfect location. It was in fact that location that led owner Chong S. Sien to purchase the eatery two years ago. “I think it’s the best place in Jeju in terms of landscape and scenery,” he said.
The building has been on the spot for more than 50 years and has gone through many changes, ranging from a coffee shop to a seafood restaurant. These days, under Chong’s guardianship, it operates as a family restaurant, serving Western and Oriental food. Usually any restaurant describing itself as a family choice is one I would avoid, but Sea Blue has drawn me back multiple times, and will continue to do so.
Like Chong, I consider the view one of the best on the island and I look forward to the arrival of summer, when one can walk from the sea straight up the steps to the restaurant’s deck. But even in winter Sea Blue is welcoming, with a pot belly stove warming the interior and the smell of wood smoke through the rooms. With seating for up to 80 diners inside, and about 200 on the two levels of deck, it’s a perfect place to wind up the weekend while watching Hamdeok Beach fade to night and squid ships set out to sea. Or if you’re dining during the day, you may be treated to the sight of energetic wind surfers offshore as you sink into your warm and comfortable couch.
▲ Photo by Tracie Barrett
In keeping with its target market, the food choices are reasonably simple. The Wes-tern menu features family favorites of pizza, hot dogs or club sandwiches, cheese-burgers and spaghetti. It’s not five-star dining by any stretch of the imagination, but I can’t find fault with Sea Blue’s pizza or its cheeseburger, which is my regular choice when dining there. Served with French fries and the ubiquitous pickles, the burger is a satisfying and filling meal. When dining with a group, we often share a large pizza as an appetizer. The Oriental options include bulgogi, galbi, seafood or beef and kimchi fried rice, as well as a choice of snacks for those simply wanting bar food.
Once the current rainy season is over, Chong said, he will also offer beef and pork cooked on a charcoal grill on the deck. He makes his own 10 varieties of sauce, and served me and my colleague a sample of Jeju’s famous black pig doused in his home-made gochujang (chili sauce). Although it was cooked in the kitchen rather than over charcoal, it was hot and spicy and I look forward to getting the charcoal flavor also once the grill is lit.
The staff members are friendly and Chong knows his regular customers by name and always asks after mutual friends. Meals can take a while to be served and I was once witness to an elderly Korean man yelling at the staff because he thought he’d been waiting too long. To me, it is part of the charm of the restaurant that no one seems in a hurry. Popcorn gets brought to the table on arrival so it’s easy to sit back and relax while you wait and sip a cold beer or a hot cup of tea.
Sea Blue is open from 9 a.m. for coffee and tea and serves meals from 11 a.m. until mid-night. With dishes starting from as little as 6,000 won and one of the best views on Jeju, I’m more than happy to go on island time when I walk through the door.
Sea Blue Restaurant and Bar 1008-Hamdeok-ri Jocheon-eup Jeju City Tel: 064-782-1002
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