This year, the hubby and I celebrated our 3 year wedding anniversary. Since we were unable to have a honeymoon, we decided that every year on our anniversary we would take a trip. The first year we went to Chiang Mai and the second we went to Bali. We were so excited for our next big adventure… and then Covid hit. Of course this put an immediate halt on all of our travel plans, so we decided to celebrate a little closer to home.
Jeju Island is known as the Hawaii of Korea and we’ve been meaning to go back for a while now. This time we’d be retuning once again with our furbaby, Uyu, but for a longer period of time… an entire week! With so much to do, see and, of course, eat.
Dongmun Market (동문시장)
It wouldn’t be a real vacation without tons and tons of delicious local food. There were plenty of tasty restaurant options, but on all our travels we try to visit the local traditional markets. This is where we are always most likely to come across not only street food vendors, but also cheap souvenirs and other local specialities all in one place. In Jeju City, the local market of choice is Dongmun Market (동문시장).
Pickings were a bit slim, but we did manage to get chargrilled chunks of black pork served on a puffed taco shell (흑돼지 철판 반쎄오). The bites were a bit tough, but the flavor was undeniably savory. Think teriyaki chicken, but with grilled pork instead.
Close by was a treat that was not to be missed. A dumpling stall like we’d seen at other markets, but with unique ingredients. In our case, black pork with octopus (흑돼지 문어 만두). Two flavors which meshed better than we could have imaged. The dumpling was completely stuffed with chunks of ground pork and delectable cuts of octopus. If there was only one treat to be had at this market, the dumplings were it.
Between stuffing our faces, we took breaks to do some souvenir shopping. Jeju’s known for several varieties of chocolates available at just about every market. It’s all about shopping for the best deals and picking out your favorites. My personal favorite are the “crunch” chocolates which are crispy rice grains held together with chocolate. We ended up with 15 boxes of 5 (tangerine, green tea, cactus, hallabong and dark chocolate) flavors for ₩10,000. Perfect for sharing with family and friends (and still keeping some at home for us).
But the real stars of the show are the sun-dried tangerine slices dipped in chocolate. Sweet, tangy, and 100% more expensive than the other options. We bought four boxes (they were 2 for ₩10,000) and they are sadly almost done. Pro-tip: all the chocolates can be found at the airport, but for a substantial premium. Make sure to pick them up before you leave!
We wanted a few souvenirs that weren’t… you know, food. We wandered through aisles of adorable hareubang plushies, tangerine patterned scrunchies, and hallabong keychains! We got Uyu an adorable tangerine hat that was actually made just for decoration, but it fit his little noggin so perfectly that we simply had to have it! And since the hat was obviously more for our pleasure than his, we also got him a little hareubang plush which he now keeps in his bed at all times.
Sumokwon Park Night Market (수목원길 야시장)
Our next market was Sumokwon Park Night Market (수목원길 야시장). Less of a traditional market and more of a modern night market, the night market was similar to ones in Seoul and other mainland cities. And just like the other markets, there was a nice selection of food trucks and local merchant booths that did not disappoint.
While the hand made jewelry and clothes were cute and all, I’m not gonna lie… we were totally there for the food. So, we dove right into it with a Jeju Black Pork Katsu Sando (제주산 흑돼지 가츠산도). Like the name implies, the dish is based on the popular Japanese egg sandwiches. But nestled in with the egg and bread was the juiciest and crispiest cut of Jeju black pork katsu I’ve ever had. The only complaint was that we finished it too soon.
Having temporarily satisfied our taste of black pork (more on this later), we stopped off for Coconut Shrimp (코코넛 새우튀김). One simple reason: these were the biggest coconut shrimp I’d ever seen in my life. Crispy batter with a hint of sweet coconut that tasted just fine with or without the sauces provided. They put all past experiences with coconut shrimp to shame.
It’s rare for us to pick so many winners, but we’re nothing if not greedy when it comes to food. For our next dish, we went for the white whale. Enter the Jeju Black Pork Double Burger. Two thick patties of Jeju black pork, two hash browns, pineapple, two kinds of cheese, thick slices of ham, and lettuce barely held together with two brioche buns (drool). The only thing that matched that flavor was the heft leaving no room for any more dishes.
Good thing we were still thirsty. So we moved to the final food cart… pineapple juice (파인애플 통 쥬스) to help wash everything down. Or… a sweet ice-blended pineapple smoothie stuffed into a hollowed out pineapple. The perfect end to a perfect meal (or set of three meals).
Seogwipo Maeil Olle Market (서귀포매일올레시장)
Down on the southern side of the island, we made our way to the Seogwipo Market. While not as large as the Dongmun Market, it houses more street food and a larger variety. There were so many stalls we couldn’t even get close to trying it all. The theme of the day? Tangerine flavored snacks.
A long walk through the market led to the discovery of Tangerine Steamed Bread (귤찐빵). Cute steamed buns shaped like tangerines but filled with hallabong flavored red bean. The bun was light and fluffy, but it was dense. We spent the rest of the visit slowly snacking on the buns between meals and other snacks.
One of the more popular stalls served Tangerine Hotteok (귤호떡). Lines of people were buying them in bags which left us waiting our turn. The snack was lightly crisped on the outside with a sweet filling of honey, tangerine preserves and nuts on the inside. The sweet and tangy flavor was absolutely worth the wait.
This being our third trip to Jeju, we already knew we wanted a bag of Tangerine Hareubang Bread (귤하르빵). These are super popular on the island and you can find them in a lot of different places, but it is much more likely to get them fresh at a market with lots of foot traffic. When the bread is fresh, the outside is crispy, the bread is soft and the filling is warm and gooey. They’re super addictive and they make you really thirsty, so we washed them down with a nice cold hallabong juice.
Aside from food, there were also a few souvenir stores peppered in. While they offered a lot of the same stuff that Dongmun Market had, I think that Dongmun Market had a better variety. So, I’m glad we did the majority of our souvenir shopping there and the majority of our eating at Seogwipo Market. It was the perfect combination.
Visiting these types of markets is such a good way to literally get a taste of the place you’re visiting. Three might seem like overkill, but for us it’s hashtag goals. So if you get the chance, definitely check them out!