A very large plate of fresh hwae!
More than one photographer snapping a shot
of the seafood feast-laden table ;b
After watching the haenyeo collecting seafood from Jeju's waters, I think it was only to be expected that the same group of people who already had had eaten a hearty oyster-heavy breakfast/brunch earlier that day would suddenly hanker after a seafood dinner. And actually, in view of the large numbers of restaurants that specialize in seafood over in Seongsan town, my distinct sense is that feasting on seafood is very much the thing to do in that part of Jeju!
Faced with a raft of seafood restaurants to choose from, we did the tourist thing and opted for an establishment with a bilingual menu with lots of photos and a waitress who was so enthusiastic about getting our patronage that she had cheerily hailed us over from by the restaurant's entrance. That level of welcome may be not too exceptional in certain other parts of the world but, from personal experience, that's pretty unusual in Korea! But rather than look upon it with suspicion, we decided to take it at face value -- and it really was nice to feel post-meal that our trust had been yielded dividends.
Put another way: we proceeded to have yet another delicious, value-for-money feast on an island where it seemed impossible to have a bad meal! Quantity-wise: just look at the photos at the top of this blog post! And in terms of quality: like one of my friends remarked upon reminiscing about our Jeju trip after she had returned to the landlocked American state where she resides, if seafood were this good and fresh where she lived, she'd happily eat it every day!
Of the five main dishes we ended up with (along with a slew of banchan), my favorite by far was the large plate of hwae which was part of the assorted set for two (Koreans that would have been fine for three of our party!) that we ordered along with one additional main course. Consisting of slices of eight different fish and shellfish, some of which (e.g., abalone, mackerel, octopus, prawns, mussels, turbo shell) I could identify and others (sea bream? hairtail fish?) of which I couldn't with absolute certainty, they were eaten dipped in soy sauce like one would sashimi but prepared in such a way that they often had a chewier, crunchier texture -- in the case of some of the fish as well as shellfish -- than one would find at sushi-ya.
The rest of my dinner party actually preferred the other dishes served -- which was fine by me since it meant that I could feel less guilty eating more of the hwae (which was served raw bar for the octopus and prawns)! This is not to say that I didn't like the other dishes, which included a seafood jigae (stew), a seafood dolsot bibimbap, a seafood pajeon (Korean savory pancake) and a whole -- well, minus head and tail -- grilled sea bream, though and I also happily sampled all the banchan on the table!
Considering how large our meals in Jeju were, it's probably a good thing that we ended up having just two meals a day when we were on the island -- that is, if you don't count the snacks (which included the island's famed tangerines, dried persimmons and... maple flavored corn snacks!) we also would have at various times, including while shooting the breeze over a few drinks post-dinner! All in all, it's a good thing that I also did do quite a bit of walking around, even hiking, on this Korean isle whose culinary offerings may well be as wonderful as its geological sights! ;b