▲ Lighthouse Restaurant serves primarily Western dishes . Photos by Tracie Barrett, right, courtesy Lighthouse Restaurant
In spring, so the saying goes, a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of love. This writer’s fancy, however, is far more likely to turn to thoughts of food, specifically brunch in a setting with water views. A good Western brunch is hard to come by on Jeju Island, so when you stumble across one, you’re likely to keep going back.
I literally stumbled across the Lighthouse Restaurant at Sam-yang Black Sand Beach on my first week back to the island last December. I was staying at a friend’s apartment while looking for my own accommodation and would often take her dog for walks along the Samyang waterfront where Lighthouse sits at the end of the boardwalk, with floor to ceiling windows opening out to a grassy area and then to the sea beyond.
I ate regularly at the restaurant in my two months at Samyang, often taking my laptop with me and enjoying the warmth of the room and hospitality of the staff on cold wintry days. With deep comfortable sofas that one sinks into and marvelous views of the sea, I happily whiled away more than a few hours. And now that the weather is warmer and the views just as good, I returned in early June with my friend Cat to sample the brunch menu. I was craving Western comfort food so ordered Eggs Benedict and Cat decided on Chicken Salad. We added a side of fries to share.
My eggs arrived light and fluffy, topped with a rich hollandaise sauce and ham, and accompanied by grilled tomatoes and asparagus, a delicacy I seldom see on Jeju. My only quibble was that the ham was thinly sliced sandwich meat, not a slab of ham steak as I had expected (and was surprised not to get, on an island famed for its pork products). Cat’s salad consisted of chicken strips battered and fried, served on salad greens topped with croutons and a honey mustard dressing. The fries were excellent – thick wedges crusted with seasoning, and we both cleared our plates.
One thing I had noticed on previous visits to the restaurant was the gospel passage written on the menus and business cards, and manager Lisa Kim told us the Lighthouse is affiliated with a well-known restaurant named Oasis in Cheongdam-dong, and both are run as working missions. “We work hard, make money and give it to the church,” she said. The staff members believe in feeding the soul in addition to the body and Kim said they try to give happiness through their food. “Even people who aren’t Christian come here and enjoy it.” The caring, cheerful vibes given off by the staff members are, to me, as big a part of that enjoyment as the good food and fabulous views.
In keeping with its Christian mission, Lighthouse serves no alcohol, a lack that might seem odd to some Westerners accustomed to leisurely Champagne brunches. It does give plenty of beverage options though, including coffee and a good variety of teas. Open from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, I highly recommend Lighthouse for a leisurely brunch or dinner while enjoying the changing views of one of Jeju’s many picturesque beaches.
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