Dombae Gogi: A Traditional Jeju Cuisine
There are so many seafood dishes to try in Jeju, but one thing you do not want to miss while visiting the island is the pork. There are two kinds of Jeju local breed–black and white. Black pork is indigenous to the area. It is more expensive than white pork because of its rarity and particularity in flavour and texture.
Cheonjitgol Restaurant in Seogwipo only has one thing on its menu: dombae gogi. “Dombae” is Jeju dialect for “cutting board,” and the name translates to “meat served on cutting board” and it is literally what it is. A chunk of braised pork is served on wooden cutting board. You need to decide whether you would go with black or white pork.
My sources recommended black pork. They stated that black pork has strong and nutty flavour whereas white pork has softer and lighter flavour. Jeju natives usually prefer white pork while tourists often choose black pork. I had my heart set on black pork since it is something I could not taste on mainland. However, as we patiently wait in line a dreading shout came from the kitchen: “that is the last black pork for the night!”
I stopped the rushing server and asked if what I just heard was true. Apparently, black pork they had in stock for the night has just run out–only after an hour they opened. Crushed, but we still waited to taste the white pork. After about 30 minutes of wait, we were able to grab a table and place an order.
Best Way To Try Jeju Pork
One serving of pork belly is about 600g and you choose black or white pork (in which for our case we had no choice). You can also choose the texture of the meat–tender or al dente (don’t worry the meat is cooked through). You can also choose to have more meat or more fat on your chunk of pork.
The owner comes up to your table to slice up the pork. She has been doing this for decades and would not let anyone else take her tongs and knife. As she began carving, the lady explains how the meat with a bit of texture is tastier than softly-cooked portion. She swapped two pieces of meat with ones from another table to prove her point. “Compare the texture,” she said with a pride. “Black pork tastes much better. Next time, come early to try it.” The restaurant opens at 6pm but apparently people line up well before then to try the black pork before they run out.
Braised Pork Belly > Grilled Pork Belly
The best ways to taste the braised pork belly are:
1. Try with just a little dash of salt
2. Lightly dip it in Jeju-style fermented anchovy sauce
3. Wrap the meat and kimchi in a slice of pickled radish
I am a fan of Korean barbecue and pork belly had always been my number one choice. But I have never realized until this day that braised pork would outrank grilled pork on my personal list. I could not get enough of the meat–they were so good.
The restaurant also offers bottomless momguk, a traditional Jeju soup made with gulfweed and pork broth. The buckwheat powder is added to enhance the nuttiness. The hearty soup is a great finish to a meaty dinner.
Cheonjitgol Restaurant 천짓골식당
Jeju-do, Seogwipo, Cheonji-dong, 294-10
6PM-10PM (closed on Sundays)