Travel in Korea: Jeju Island Vegan Restaurant 'Jayeoneuro'
Today, I want to introduce my favorite restaurant on Jeju Island! If you're traveling to Jeju or even living here, you should definitely give it a look.
All the food is made by two sisters with a love for organic, natural produce and traditional recipes. And, as I found out later on, everything is actually vegan, so if you're vegetarian or vegan, you can eat to your heart's content!
We'd discovered the restaurant called "Jayeoneuro" (자연으로), which means 'by nature' or 'through nature', about three years ago. It has since changed its name to 'New Jayeoneuro', but everything else stayed the same and we like to visit there every couple of months since the side dishes change seasonally.
How to find it? The address is: 079-5 Samdal-ri, Seongsan-eup, Jeju-do, South Korea
You can find a link to the map and more reviews here: Happy Cow Jayeoneuro Jeju Island
Jayeoneuro is located on the southeast side of Jeju Island. If you're visiting Seongsan Ilchulbong or traveling towards Seogwipo, you're not too far away.
The building doesn't look impressive from the outside, but everything is lovingly decorated, clean and bright. I love the atmosphere, which is so much calmer and relaxing than most traditional Korean restaurants. If you've traveled around Korea before, you might have noticed how noisy and quickly eaten most meals are (which has a charm of its own, of course) but if you'd like to sit for a while, maybe look at your guidebooks, sketch a bit or just take a breath, this is a great choice.
It feels more like a cafe than a restaurant, actually!
There are a lot of creative little decor elements - bring your camera!
Below, you can see the menu.
The most famous dish is actually the 'Sinseonbab', a large bowl of rice with different grains and nuts that is served with a variety of side dishes. If you love Korean cuisine, then you know how important side dishes 'Banchan' are!
A variation of that is the second item on the list, Ueongteopbab. Ueong is burdock root, and Teopbab just means rice with something served atop. It's similar to the Sinseonbap and definitely worth a try if you haven't tasted burdock root yet.
You eat the rice dishes together with the leek side dish.
Other available dishes change depending on the season, but there's Tomato Bibimguksu and Tomato Memilguksu - both noodle dishes served with a tomato sauce instead of the chili-based sauce typical for Bibimguksu ("mixed noodles"), so if you're on the look for something not spicy, this is a refreshing choice! Memilguksu are noodles made from buckwheat.
As mentioned, Jayeoneuro offers a lot of Banchan side dishes, and they change up their ingredients and recipes depending on the season. Last time, they had these delicious sweet dried radish stripes ('sweet radish' sounds like an oxymoron, but it was so good!) and pickled plums.
Another in-season side dish was 'Gosari', a Korean fern bracken that is very sought-after in spring.
A favorite of mine are the Kongguksu, though. It's soybean noodle soup - imagine noodles in a soymilk sauce. Now imagine that again, but in delicious. I know it sounds strange, but the broth prepared from soybeans, with just a hint of salt, is creamy, nutty and unique.
Since the ingredients for this dish are so minimal, it's all the more important to find a restaurant that gets those basics just right, and the lovely ladies at Jayeoneuro definitely do!
This is a really filling dish, so make sure you have someone to share it with!
The cozy interior and friendly cooks really invite to stay for a while! This is also one of the very few traditional-style Korean restaurants that serve a dessert. Sometimes a sweet drink (we had pine tree tea last time - a very pricey delicacy made from pollen...) or tea are served along with the dessert, too.
There's always some ingredient being prepared for future Banchan. Both inside...
... and outside. Take a look around the garden!
Also, if you speak Korean, it's a lot of fun to talk to the owners/cooks! They're very kind and love sharing information about their cooking methods, traditional Jeju plants and recipes - I'd love to just go to a cooking class at their place!
They also sell special delicacies you'll have trouble finding anywhere else. From tiny crackers/cookies made from a mix of whole grains, to a honey-like paste made from grains (do you see a pattern there?) to oils and even nutrition bars.
We've been to this restaurant so often but the dishes never get 'boring' - and especially when family or friends from back home in Switzerland visit, I make sure to take them there. The very healthy, non-spicy dishes offer something for every taste, and we love to take our meals slowly and laze around afterwards - unlike with my Korean in-laws, where we barely managed to eat the dessert before everyone was getting antsy ;)
All food served is vegan - with the exception of that mentioned pine pollen tree, which contained honey, so maybe try asking about that if you're concerned.
I hope you liked this little tour! I love taking food pictures and drawing food, so I'll probably introduce more vegan restaurants both on Jeju Island and in Korea in general.
The Korean food stickers in the image above can be found on my Etsy shop. Thank you for reading!