Some answers to the never-ending search for Jeju's best cafes
JEJU ISLAND — The quest to create the perfect itinerary for Jeju Island can seem never-ending considering the amount of new cafes, restaurants, and bars that are continuously springing up.
In a neighborhood far from the hustle and bustle of Jeju International Airport, many are creating spaces that highlight the nature of the island for those visiting for a break from their busy city lives.
Since not everyone enjoys hiking for hours to get the best view of Jeju’s amazing nature, many cafes are setting up shop in areas that allow patrons to enjoy the scenery in a more comfortable way.
For those planning to visit Jeju in the coming weeks, the Korea JoongAng Daily has compiled a list of the trendiest cafes on the island for the ultimate respite in between meals.
But do remember, all these cafes are likely to be crowded if you visit on the weekends and right after the usual lunch time which is peak time.
If you want to be surrounded by trees and flowers, head to Veke in southern Jeju’s Seogwipo. You'll walk alongside flowers dancing in the breeze as soon as you enter the premises of the cafe which will make you lose track of time. With blue skies harmonizing with the colorful flowers and greenery, it is easy to picture yourself as the owner of a countryside home with a vast garden. The garden that leads to the cafe building on the left has a somewhat unkempt style. If you go right, more gardens unfold with outdoor seating. Some parts are neatly lined with tall tress that are reminiscent of tree mazes often seen in the gardens of large European castles.
Inside the building is a large glass window with a direct view of the garden. The bar-style table allows visitors to sit by the window and enjoy the view while remaining cool inside thanks to the air conditioning. The inside is all black to make the colorful view outside the window all the more dramatic.
One and Only [LEE SUN-MIN]
One and Only, a cafe that uses the grandiose rocky mountain named Sanbang as its backdrop in southern Jeju’s Seogwipo, will make visitors' jaws drop. The building housing the cafe is adorned with many palm trees that create a resort vibe and will make you feel like you should be wearing a swimsuit while sipping on your coffee. The sunbed-like seats lined outside the cafe add to the ambience. The cafe is located by Hwanguchi Beach meaning you might be able to see actualy swimmers during your visit.
If you're looking for a less crowded spot in Seogwipo, head to Heuilot. The neighborhood where the cafe is located feels more residential and features many overnight lodging options. Although it isn’t on the beach, the gentle sound of waves breaking entertains cafegoers’ ears. It seems to be a good place to visit by yourself if you're interested in some alone time to reflect while gazing out at the sea or up at the sky at sunset.
To get a taste of a local neighborhood in Jeju, check out Janmulgyeol in western Jeju’s Hallim-eup, which is also known as Little Waves.
Janmulgyeol or Little Waves [LEE SUN-MIN]
You'll need luck on your side to secure seats at Janmulgyeol. Compared to One and Only or Heuilot, the cafe is rather small but cozy. There are some outdoor seats but it is soon likely to be too warm to sit outside. The vibe is chilled, with patrons quietly chatting amongst themselves or just enjoying their beverages.
Ultramarine [LEE SUN-MIN]
For a more industrial look which harmonizes unexpectedly with Jeju’s nature, visit either Ultramarine or Gongbech. Ultramarine is located in western Jeju’s Hanggyeong-myeon and can overwhelm visitors with its façade. Right along the coastline, a faded-black, container-box-like building whose main gate is rusty red, stands tall and somewhat intimidating. But as you approach it you will see an excellent view of the water. The downstairs area of the two-story building has a large window offering a view of the sea and makes a good backdrop if you want to take a photo that only shows your silhouette.
Gongbech in northern Jeju’s Gujwa-eup will make you feel like a spy breaking into a high-security secret lab. The cafe appears to be abandoned and is covered in overgrown ivy. Purchasing a drink means you are also allowed to navigate the rest of the premises which has many different buildings that are used as a gallery and a communal space for cultural events. Light installations, mirrors and some wooden furniture are also scattered around.
Yeonhwa Tea [LEE SUN-MIN]
If you want to actually taste the nature of Jeju rather than just look at it, you should visit Yeonhwa Tea in central Jeju’s Jocheon-eup or Carrot and Ggannip in Gujwa. The owner of the cafe gathers greens to heat and dry and uses them to make tea to serve to guests. The teahouse only has bar seats and takes one group of guests at a time. It is recommended to make a prior reservation or you might not get seated. The owner sits down with guests to prepare the tea and small bites and share her tea experiences in Jeju. It is also possible to buy a pack of dried tea leaves to take home.
Carrot and Ggannip got its name for serving food and drinks made with carrots and ggannip
, which is a perilla leaf. However, at the moment, they only serve food and drinks made with carrots. The cafe serves fresh-squeezed carrot juice which is so tasty you'll be ordering glass after glass. Gujwa, which is known by many across the nation for its carrots, grows a variety of the root vegetable that is sweeter than others. The cafe is located in a building in the style of a traditional home on Jeju with surrounding walls made with local rock. You really feel like you've been invited into the home of a Jeju native.
Carrot juice and a cupcake are served at Carrot and Ggannip (Carrot and Perilla Leaf). [LEE SUN-MIN]
One wall is filled with children’s books about carrots, and another is filled with notes by visitors expressing their amazement at the taste of carrots, even by those who wouldn't consider themselves carrot fans. All the carrots used to make the juice and cupcakes are grown locally. The cupcakes seem rustic as if your grandmother just took them out of the oven. It is also possible to buy the juice in a bottle to take away.
Coffee drinks at Coffee Temple [LEE SUN-MIN]
Coffee Temple in Jeju, run by an award-winning barista, offers cappuccinos and lattes with a hint of local tangerine. The subtle taste of the citrus is one of the popular options alongside its signature shots of espresso.
If you miss the desert-like scenes of Palm Springs in California, you can trick yourself to think that you are there at In’s Mill. Apart from the humid weather, unlike the dry heat in the California desert, the cafe with clay-colored building and many palm trees is a dead ringer for Palm Springs.
Fancy a taste of Portugal? Head to Azulejo in southern Jeju’s Seogwipo. The cafe is located in a small house-like building with walls that have been decorated with ornate tiles. Munch on some freshly-baked egg tarts for an authentic taste of Portugal .
Jeju also has a spot to remind you of Italy. Bar Bacco is an espresso bar and restaurant during the day time, run by a florist wife and chef husband. The cafe that looks like a grandmother’s house in the Italian countryside offers sweet treats like amaretti, a traditional cookie of the Lombardi region of Italy and much more. The flower center-pieces on the tables come in very hand to make your photos of drinks and desserts prettier. Bar Bacco has a strict dress code for visitors that includes no gym clothes, flip flops or open-toe sports shoes.
For more information about traveling around Jeju, go to www.visitjeju.net