Da Ae Restaurant, Dodong Harbour
Price: 12,000 won (about $12)
Honghapbab [홍합밥] is definitely something you want to try if you ever visit our beautiful island. Honghab is mussel and bab is rice… you do the math. I asked around where I could have this local meal for lunch and were given a few options. No one seemed to be able to reach concensus. I myself had it at a few places but I was so overwelmed by how amazing my Imo’s recipe was that it drowned out all other memory. The closest place, by recommendation, was a little restaurant right by Dodong harbour called Da Ae Restaurant. Upon my arrival it was easy to see what they based their marketing scheme on. Outside the restaurant was a sign that informed prospective visitors that the eatery had been featured on SBS’s (a Korean television channel) Morning Wide.
Floor and chair seating is available so its up to you whether you feel like taking your shoes off or not. If you come here in winter, I recommend you take ’em suckers off. The floors are usually heated which may just allow blood circulation to return to your bottom. Ulleungdo gets pretty cold. The service is friendly, an ajoshi moved my soup bowl for me while I was eating. Strange, I know…but very kind considering the bowl was oddly placed. The side dishes were generously dished and the rice was not too much. I did feel the mussel rice was a little on the dry side, but that’s because I’m spoilt. Be prepared to fork out 12,000 won for this meal, but also bear in mind that everything in Ulleungdo is generally more expensive than the mainland, and that these kinds of restuarants cater for the tourist trade.
If you would like to cook honghab bab yourself, be prepared to do some dirty work. The mussels have to be debearded and its a bloody mess…literally. The trick is to place the mussels in the rice-cooker with the rice. I’m afraid thats the only part of the coveted recipe my imo let me see, perhaps I can get the sauce out of her next time. Top with seaweed and serve with sidedishes of myeongi, grated radish, bokchoi and pickled sesame leaf. If this is too much hassle, just visit Ulleungdo and let a friendly imo prepare it for you, island style.