12 Must-Eat Foods in Jeju Island

A selection of 12 Jeju's speciality foods with our suggested restaurants to try out the dishes.

Jeju Food To Eat Galchi Jorim Braised Jeju Cutlassfish
Galchi Jorim 갈치조림 - Photo Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organisation.

Jeju Island is packed full of speciality dishes. From the famous black pork to abalones plucked fresh from the ocean by Jeju’s very own ‘mermaids’, this island is the home to plenty of mouth-watering and time-tested local delicacies that are rich in history and culture.

With Scoot launched its direct flights from Singapore to Jeju this June, I am sure many of you are looking forward to spending a long weekend in South Korea’s island paradise.

Here’s a selection of Jeju’s best dishes and must-eat foods completed with our suggested restaurants to try out the dishes. Some are classified as Jeju’s Traditional Food or Speciality Local Cuisine (향토음식 鄉土美食) by cultural anthropologists in Korea. While they may not be the most trendy and instagrammable dishes to try, these are culinary gems that are passed down from generation to generation and are only available on the island!

#Tip: I have also provided a map at the end of this article to help you plan your trip better. :) 

1. Galchi

Prized by Jeju’s local, Galchi (갈치) or hairtail fish is a long, thin and silver-coloured fish that is hard to keep fresh once it’s caught. So eating it at Jeju Island where it is usually harvested guarantees the freshness of this unique fish! It’s normally served in a kind of spicy stew called Galchi Jorim (갈치조림).

You can find this classic dish almost everywhere in Jeju. However, if you are aiming to up your game for the Gram, try to find those that serve the entire Galchi fish in a long metal pot — Tong Galchi Jorim (통 갈치조림). The spicy braised fish stew usually comes with a sumptuous spread of octopus, shrimps and abalones, a seafood lover’s dream come true!

Jeju galchijorim
Galchi Jorim 갈치조림 – Photo Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organisation.
Jeju Food to eat Galchi Gui(Grilled Cutlassfish)
Galchi Gui 갈치구이 – Photo Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organisation.

Non-spicy eaters can also enjoy the fish by ordering grilled Galchi, or Galchi Gui (갈치 구이), as most hairtail fish speciality restaurants in Jeju would serve both types of dishes. If you are travelling in a bigger group, I’ll recommend you to try both!

 Jeju Madang 제주마당  
The very first hairtail fish restaurant in Jeju that serves Galchi Jorim in a long metal pot! The restaurant has different kinds of set menu, and is famed for serving Jeju pork donkatsu and Jeju's specialty Omegi rice cakes as refillable banchan too! Wear something comfortable as we are pretty sure you can hardly move after the meal! 
663-1  Iho il-dong, Jeju-do | 제주 제주시 이호1동 663-1 

 Buddumak Sikdang 부뚜막식당  
A small family restaurant that is well loved by the locals. This rather unassuming restaurant has a 80s, old-school vibe, and serves great Galchi dishes like Galchi Jorim and Galchi Gui at a very affordable price!  
11 Goseongojo-ro, Seongsan-eup, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do | 제주 제주시 성산읍 고성오조로 11  
Jeju Must Eat Food Galchi Guk
Galchi Guk 갈치국- Photo Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organisation

Galchi Soup, or Galchi Guk (갈치국) is a simple dish boiled with pumpkin or squash, cabbages, green chillies and other vegetables, and is listed as Jeju’s Speciality Local Cuisine. If you partied until the wee hours of the morning, this soup would be a perfect dish to cure your hangover. It is slightly similar to Singapore’s Batang fish soup, but the Galchi fish definitely has a softer and fluffier texture.

 Dongyang Sikdang 동양식당  
A 40-year-old restaurant in the historical Dongmun Market. The fresh hairtail fish has a soft and tender texture and a nice savoury taste that complement well with the sweetness from the Chinese cabbage and pumpkin. A simple, nutritious and comforting dish to warm your stomach during the colder days.  
Dongmun Market, 1136-2 Il-do il-dong, Jeju-do | 제주 제주시 일도1동 1136-2 

2. Black Pork BBQ

You may already hear about Hanwoo Beef as the pride of South Korea, but the country also prides itself on another meat product — Jeju black pork (Heuk-dwaeji 흑돼지). This black-haired breed of pig hails from Jeju Island and is leagues above standard pork, as it has the best chewiness, great marbling, and a meaty, steak-like flavour without the gaminess.

There are people travelling to the island specifically for the best pork in South Korea so if you are in Jeju, a black pork BBQ definitely deserves a slot in your itinerary.

It is very easy to enjoy black pork in Jeju as there is a special place called Heuk-dwaeji Geori 흑돼지거리 or Black Pork Street where all restaurants lined up serving black pork right in downtown Jeju City.

Jeju Food To eat - Jeju Black Pork Street
Black Pork Street at Jeju Island – Photo Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organisation
Jeju food to eat blackpork
Photo Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organisation
Jeju Food To Eat Samgyeopsal(Grilled Prok Belly)
Photo Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organisation

One of my favourite black pork restaurants is called Chil-donga 칠돈가. I first visited the restaurant in 2008 and it remains on my list ever since. I like the chewy texture of the pork that is oozing with fat juices. It just tastes more meaty and juicy than ordinary pork.

Chil-donga 칠돈가 
You can definitely tell that the restaurant specializes in black pork when there are only 2 items on the menu: Jeju black pork and kimchi stew. The thick black pork is roasted over charcoal fire, and served with myeolchi-jeot, a pungently salty anchovy-based dipping sauce, among other condiments. Don't leave the restaurant without trying their kimchi stew with plenty of meat too! Note that there is an outlet located near the airport so you can easily slot it into your itinerary. 
144 Sin-daero, Yeondong, Jeju-do | 제주 제주시 신대로 144 1층 Don-sadon 돈사돈  
Opened in 2006, Don-sadon is a restaurant that serves only Jeju black pork. You can choose between 400g and 600g pork, and the meat is grilled over charcoal to perfection in front of you by their trained staff to ensure you're feasting on one of the best black porks in Jeju. 
3086-3 Nohyeong-dong, Jeju-do | 제주 제주시 노형동 3086-3

3. Jeju Tangerine

What’s a Jeju trip without tangerines? Jeju tangerines typically have high sugar content, thin rinds, and a juicy, succulent texture and are extremely popular with visitors.

The Hallabong (한라봉) tangerines would be the most famous type of Korean tangerines in the world. It is named Hallabong due to its resemblance to the Hallasan Mountain on Jeju Island. This variety of tangerine has a crunchy pulp and is rich & juicy.

However, I prefer Cheonhyehyang (천혜향) over Hallabong and it is my favourite Jeju tangerine. Cheonhyehyang contains less acidity and has a rich sweetness. The flesh is soft, juicy and tender, and the fragrance is to-die-for. In fact, the delectable fragrance is how it got its name as there is a Korean saying that ‘the fragrance of the fruit can travel a thousand miles’. (향기가 천리를간다).

Jeju tangerines are typically harvested in winter. Most varieties are harvested from December to April. If you’re the lucky one that is visiting Jeju during the harvesting season, please enjoy an abundance of tangerines before coming home!

Jeju must eat food - tangerine
Photo courtesy of Hoyoung Choi (left) and Daniel Bernard (right).
Jeju food to eat - tangerine farm
Photo courtesy of Hoyoung Choi.

4. Peanut Ice Cream

Udo Island (우도) is a small island located off Jeju island. It is famed for its pristine white beach and emerald sea. It is a hidden gem to check out if you’re visiting Jeju in the warmer season. Udo is also famous for its locally grown peanuts, and one of the most instagrammable & delectable food to enjoy on this ‘island within an island’ is their peanut ice cream!

You can find different combinations and concoctions of peanut ice cream at different cafes and restaurants around this tiny island.

Jeju Food To Eat Peanut IceCream
Udo Peanut Ice cream – Photo Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organisation

5. Pheasant Buckwheat Kalguksu

I bet Pheasant Buckwheat Knife-cut Noodle or Kkwong Maemil Kalguksu (꿩메밀칼국수) is the most interesting dish on this list. Although it is classified as Jeju’s Speciality Local Cuisine, the English information about this traditional dish is scarce.

Pheasant Buckwheat Kalguksu is a dish that reflects the local food culture of Jeju. Because chickens were rare, so the broth is made with pheasants caught at the foot of the mountains. Rice was scarce because it was impossible to farm due to the extreme weather and the type of soil on the island. Staple food like carbohydrates was made with buckwheat and is added to noodles, rice cakes and sujebi (Korean Mee Hoon Kueh). Eating pheasant buckwheat kalguksu is like studying the culinary history of Jeju island.

Pheasant Buckwheat Noodle Jeju
Pheasant Buckwheat Noodle – Photo courtesy of Hansik Magazine & 메밀꽃차롱
• Golmok Sikdang  골목식당  
Golmok Sikdang is a 'restaurant in the alley' that is around for over 50 years in Dongmun Market. As the name suggests, this restaurant is located in a quiet alley and is only visited by people in the know. Their menu is simple: pheasant buckwheat noodles during the day and BBQ pheasants at night. The recipe remains unchanged since its opening. The broth is made with pheasant and radish, and the handmade buckwheat noodles to thicken the broth. The pheasant broth has a subtle flavor and a strong umami taste, which makes a nice tummy warmer during winter.
1347-1 I-do il-dong,Jeju-do | 제주시 이도1동 1347-1

• Maemil Kkot Charong  메밀꽃차롱 
Maemil Kkot Charong proudly follows an ancient pheasant buckwheat noodles recipe from the Go Family which was originated from the middle-mountainous area of Jeju island, Gyeorae-ri . Each bowl of the noodles were hand made from scratch, from slicing the buckwheat dough to boiling the pheasant broth. Pheasant bone, radish and kelp were added to the broth and simmered for about 5 hours to make the soup.  
368-1 Yeon-dong, Jeju-do | 제주시 연동 368-1

6. Abalones

Abalones are harvested by Hae-nyeo(해녀), Jeju’s ‘mermaids’, a traditional occupation that is passed on from mothers to daughters of Jeju Island. These female divers descend to depths of up to 15 metres to collect delicacies such as shellfish, sea urchins, octopus, abalones and etc.

Abalones in Jeju live in strong sea currents which require them to move extensively in the sea and resulting in a nice and chewy texture. They used to be exclusively served to royals, but we can find them easily all over the island now, especially at restaurants run by Hae-nyeos.

Jeju Food To eat - grilled abalone with butter
Grilled Abalone – 전북 버터 구이. Photo Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization.
JejuFood to Eat Abalone Sizzling stone rice
• Myungjin Jeonbok 명진전복 
Myeongjin Abalone, or Myeongjin Jeonbok only serves four dishes — abalone sizzling hot pot rice, grilled abalone, rice porridge with abalone and sliced raw abalone. This means that each dish is honed to perfection. The restaurant uses the freshest ingredients, and is value for money compared to other similar establishments.
1282 Haemajihaean-ro, Gujwa-eup, Jeju-do| 제주 제주시 구좌읍 해맞이해안로 1282

7. Jeju Pork Noodles

Listed as one of the Speciality Local Cuisine in Jeju, Jeju pork noodles or Gogi Guksu (고기 국수) is another way to enjoy Jeju’s black pork in the form of a hearty bowl of soup noodles.

If you visit Jeju Folklore & Natural History Museum (제주 자연사박물관), pop by the nearby noodle street where you can find 10 restaurants selling Jeju pork noodles, one of the remaining cultural heritage items in Jeju island. This is a dish that typically appears during festive seasons and ceremonies during the olden days when the black pig was slaughtered for such events. The leftover bones will be slow-cooked for days to create the creamy soup and served together with sliced pork & yellow noodles.

Jeju Guksu, jeju must eat noodle
Jeju Pork Noodles (Gogi Guksu) – Photo Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization.
Jeju Must Eat - Jeju Guksu Culture Street
Jeju Pork Noodles (Gogi Guksu) – Photo Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization.
• Ollae Guksu 올래국수 
A famous Gogi Guksu restaurant that rises to stardom after appearing at South Korean's popular gourmet variety show 'Wednesday Food Talk' (수요미식회) . The noodle soup here looks rather humble and unassuming, but the taste is gratifying. They are generous with their meat portion too! 
24 Gwiarang-gil, Yeon-dong,Jeju-do | 제주시 연동 귀아랑길 24

• Samdae Guksu 삼대국수회관 
Samdae Guksu serves a great example of how a perfect bowl of Gogi Guksu should be: Freshest pork without the gamey taste, al-dente noodles, creamy broth. Their version of noodles comes with freshly shredded seaweed flakes and topped of with their secret yangnyeom sauce  —  this added a depth in their soup stock. Simply wrap a piece of pork with the noodles and give it a bite. As the juice flows out, the umami taste spreads across your tongue and you'll go back for more.
41 Samseong-ro, Jeju-do | 제주시 삼성로 41

8. Omegi Rice Cake

Omegi rice cake or Omegi-tteok (오메기떡) is a speciality rice cake of Jeju Island. To make this traditional snack, you’ll have to boil the glutinous millet dough, roll them in bean powder and mashed red beans. Mugwort is sometimes added to the dough for natural colour and flavour. While the rice cake looks rough and crude on the outside, it is an incredibly chewy snack with a delightful blend of tender, nutty, sweet red bean flavour.

Jeju Must Eat Food Omegi Tteok(Omegi Rice Cake)
Omegi Rice Cake, Photo Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization.

You can easily find Omegi-tteok at Jeju’s traditional markets or tourist sites and it makes for an ideal gift as some souvenir shops offer individually wrapped rice cakes. However, to enjoy the snack at its best, I’d recommend purchasing it right from the Tteokjib (stores that sell rice cakes) and consuming the tteok within 24 hours!

O-Bok Tteokjib 오복떡집
As one of the signature store at Jeju's Dongmun Market (동문시장), the store opens in 1986 and has been serving a variety of rice cakes since then. If you're a sweet tooth, you'll like their Omegi-tteok. 
Dongmun Market, 10 Dongmun-ro 2-gil, Jeju-do | 제주 제주시 동문로2길 10

• Jina Tteokjib 진아떡집
Opened in 1945, this rice cake shop at Dongmun Market has a history of over 70 years and is now operated by its 3rd generation. Well loved by South Korean celeb Lee Hyori, their Omegi-tteok is less sweet compared to other places as there is no sugar added to the red beans. This would suit you if you love a healthy & light snack! 
Dongmun Market, 7-1 Dongmun-ro 4-gil, Jeju-do | 제주 제주시 동문로4길 7-1Halmoni Tteokjib 할머니떡집
A 40 years-old business in Jeju island, Grandma's Ricecake or Halmoni Tteokjib serves Omegi-tteok the traditional way — no glutinous rice flour was added to the Omegi-tteok. You can find the classic red bean and assorted nuts flavour, and special flavours like black sesame and Injeolmi Omegi-tteok here.
273-5 Seogwi-dong, Seogwipo, Jeju-do | 제주 서귀포시 서귀동 273-5Jeil Tteokjib 제일떡집
Jeil Tteokjib at Seogwipo serves their version of Omegi-tteok with plenty of nuts, hence it tasted more fragrant. It is less sweetened with sugar, but their mashed red bean crust is lighly seasoned with some salt so there is a slight hint of saltiness in their Omegi-tteok, for those who prefer their tteok sweet and savoury. 
276-15 Jungang-dong, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do | 제주 서귀포시 중앙동 276-15

9. Moom-guk

Gulfweed Soup or Moom-guk (몸국) is another Jeju’s speciality local cuisine. “Moom” is a Jeju dialect for the seaweed used in this dish. Korean mainlanders call it Mojaban. It is an edible brown seaweed called Gulfweed that grows in the shallow waters of Korea and Japan.

Traditionally, moom-guk was made from leftover pork bones. It usually appears during a celebration like a wedding, when a whole pig was roasted and anything that was leftover from the pig would be thrown into a pot and boiled. Onions, kimchi and vegetables will be added to the broth to add flavours, and finally, adding the gulfweed to the soup and the dish is served at family gatherings and events.

Jeju Must Eat Food - Moom Soup
Photo Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization.
Jeju Must Eat Food - Moom Soup
Photo Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization.

Moom-guk has an earthy and savoury taste which may be an acquired taste for some. However, it is a reliable source of minerals, vitamins and non-caloric dietary fibres to Jeju natives back in the days when the island’s crops were vulnerable due to harsh sea winds and extreme weather.

Jayeon Moomguk 자연몸국
Located in an alley within Dongmun Market, this restaurant is frequented by Jeju locals. The Moom-guk here has removed blood sausage (soondae) and intestines and added more buckwheat flour instead. Hence anyone can enjoy this traditional dish without feeling overwhelmed by the earthy taste of the gulfweed.
Dongmun Market, I-do il-dong, Jeju-do | 제주 제주시 이도1동Kim Hee Seon Moomguk 김희선몸국
Kim Hee sun's Moom-guk is the spiciest among the places introduced. The soup is clear and has a kick to it. It is very similar to Haejang-guk and you can still taste the crunchy texture of the gulfweed. Good food and very resonably priced. 
19 Eoyeong-gil, Yongdamsam-dong, Jeju-do | 제주 제주시 영담삼동 어영길 19 Yesodam 예소담
Yesodam is a noodle speciality restaurant well loved by locals. Their version of Moom-guk has pork and green onion with red pepper powde sprinkled on top. The pork broth has a nice, nutty and savoury taste and the gulfweed is braised to a tender, thick and succulent texture. 
544 Sinbuk-ro, Jochon-eup, Jeju-do | 제주 제주시 조천읍 신북로 544 

10. Bomal Kalguksu

Bomal is a Jeju dialect that refers to a sea shell called ‘Top Shell’. The sweetness from Bomal and the succulent and meaty texture of the snail is excellent when paired with noodles or cooked with porridge.

One of Jeju’s Speciality Local cuisines includes Bomal Kalguksu (보말칼국수), a type of Korean knife-cut noodles made with top shells. Interestingly, the taste of Bomal Kalguksu can be very different from place to place, as the main ingredients that go into the dish vary and therefore change the taste of the broth. It is also a great dish to savour during winter as it keeps your body warm inside out.

Jeju Must Eat - Bomal Porridge Bomal Noodle
Photo Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization.
Haewoljeong 해월정
Located along the Seongsan Coastline, Haewoljeong is a small restaurant that is extremely popular after appearing on 'Delicious Guys' (맛있는 녀석들). Haewoljeong's Bomal Kalguksu uses top shells, kelp, and mussels as their stock base. Your Kalguksu is served shabu shabu style where you'll have to wait for the noodles to be cooked infront of you. There is also rules that each customer has to order 1 portion (no sharing allowed) and if you'd like to order 2 different dishes, the minimum order is 2 pax per dish.  The restaurant is located right beside Jongdal Port where you can take a boat to Udo Island, so it will make a great stop over before or after visiting Udo Island. 
608 Jongdal-ri, Gujwa-eup,Jeju-do | 제주 제주시 구좌읍 종달리 608Okdom Sikdang 옥돔식당
Okdom Sikdang specializes Bomal Kalguksu and it is their only menu in the entire restaurant. The store is famous for its thick and chewy handmade kalguksu and the broth is charactherized by the sweetness from seaweed. Minimum order is 2 portions and above. 
1067-23 Hamo-ri, Daejeong-eup, Seogwipo-si,Jeju-do | 제주 서귀포시 대정읍 하모리 1067-23

11. Sea Urchin Kelp Soup

Sea Urchin Kelp Soup, or Seongge Miyeokguk (성게 미역국) is a local delicacy commonly served in Jeju. Sea urchins thrive around the waters of Jeju Island and are traditionally harvested by the haenyeos.

Fresh Jeju sea urchins are sweet in taste and have a clean flavour all thanks to the unpolluted ocean in Jeju. On the island, freshly harvested roes are scooped raw onto kelp soup. It is usually served to important guests in the olden days, especially during birthday celebrations.

Jeju Must Eat - Miyeokguk(Seaweed Soup)
Photo Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization.

It is very easy to find this dish around the island nowadays. Some premium restaurants or famous food establishments would have already included this dish in their set menu!

12. Mulhoe

Mulhoe or Cold Fish Soup (물회) is a popular dish enjoyed in summer, typically between end-May to early September. It is a dish made with seasonal Sashimi in a sweet and sour chilled broth.

Contrary to the Korean Mainland-styled Mulhoe which the red colour broth is made of gochujang (red pepper paste) and gochugaru (red pepper powder), Jeju’s original Mulhoe comes in an orange-brown broth as it is mainly made of doenjang, Korea’s soybean paste. During the time when food was scarce, the dish was eaten by mixing freshly cut sashimi, vegetables and soybean paste that is diluted with iced water to add flavour.

The two classic Mulhoe in Jeju are Hanchi Mulhoe (한치 물회) made of raw cuttlefish and Jaridom Mulhoe(자리돔물회) made of native Coral Fish. Beat the summer heat with a bowl of Mulhoe if you are visiting Jeju this summer!

Jeju Must Eat food Mulheo(Watery sashimi)
Abalone Mulhoe – Photo Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization.
Sun Oak's Myeongga 순옥이네 명가
Sun Oak's Myeongga is a famous restaurant that has been around for over 40 years and is run by Jeju's Haenyeo. Their Mulhoe broth is a mixture of meat-based broth with soybean paste and has a light and clean aftertaste. The most popular dish here is the Assorted Mulhoe, where you can find conch, abalone and other shell fish in the soup. 
8 Dogong-ro, Jeju-do | 제주 제주시 도공로 8

• Eojin's Hoejib  어진이네 희집 
A very popular raw fish restaurant with a spectacular view of the sea in the south of Jeju island. It is located just 5 minutes car ride away from Soesokkak (쇠소깍), a famous natural landscape on the island. The Mulhoe is served in a huge bowl or metal basin. The soup base has a nice, savoury taste like naengmyun broth that is not too spicy nor sweet. You'd find two types of vinegar in the restaurant. Most Jeju locals would reach out for the green bottle which contains glacial acetic acid (food grade), and visitors would reach out for the other one which contains apple cider vinegar. Be adventurous and try out both vinegars in your Mulhoe! 
84 Bo Mokpo-ro, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do | 제주 제주시 서귀포시 보목포로 84 

Writer’s Note:
As most restaurants listed here are time-tested and well-established in Jeju Island, please expect to wait for a table as they are extremely popular, especially during peak season or when you’re travelling in a bigger group. It is always better to make a reservation before your visit.

Speaking of which, this is also one of the many reasons I have always encouraged visitors to purchase a local sim card as you can simply drop your name and number at the restaurant and visit a cafe nearby instead! The restaurant can call you back when the seat is available.

You’d also see a notebook or blackboard at the entrance of some popular eateries where visitors would list their names and contact number to form a waitlist too. Some restaurants may have digitalized the waitlist process by using Kakaotalk App. The bad news is if you’re not a South Korean resident (not having a student or work visa), chances are that you’re not considered registered within the system even when you have a Kakaotalk account as it probably isn’t verified with a valid visa/ NRIC, therefore won’t be able to receive a queue number to your Kakao app.

If speaking Korean is not an option, try to adjust your visiting time to 1-2 hours before or after normal meal time to beat the crowd. (To avoid disappointment, please do your homework to check the restaurant operating hours and rest days when you are arranging your itinerary!)

Google Map: 12 Must-Eat Foods in Jeju Island

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