Monday, June 7, 2010

Seaside eatery on Jeju Island

This post originally took place on May 30, 2010.

We started an organized tour on our third day in Korea. First stop was Jeju island (Jejudo) which is just south of the mainland. Our guide took us to Dragon's Head Rock which had a large rock in the shape of a dragon's head. But there was also this encampment nearby.

They were selling fresh sea cucumbers (haesaam), abalone (junbok)

and mungae!

I have never had sea cucumber or even heard of mungae. And I've never had raw abalone. We sat down at little tables, drank soju, and ate lunch, though we had to get back to the tour bus so we were rushing a bit. It was awesome. The pieces were cut coarsely so you got a sense of what you were eating.

The sea cucumber, in particular, could be different depending on the piece you got. One part of the cucumber burst as I bit down--I think it was the head, do they even have heads?--but it tasted all fresh and oceany. The abalone was a bit crunchy and mild, a treat to eat. And the munge had this sea urchin metallic tang. It wasn't the absolute freshest, but it was still good. It exploded when they prepped it.

They were boiling octopus behind our table so we got an order of that too. Right next to us there was a barrel they use to burn their trash.

I love this place. What a way to start the tour.

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