Escape the bone-chilling Korean winter with a piping hot bowl of fresh and healthy rice porridge from Haneul Nari, a quaint little juk (죽) restaurant located across the street from McDonald’s near the Jeju City Hall area. With an extensive porridge selection including meat and vegan dishes, this adorable restaurant provides a cozy atmosphere and a menu that can please a variety of palettes.
Opening its doors in August 2011, husband and wife restaurant owners Jang Hee Sam and Jung Min Young strive to provide customers with fresh food and the best tasting porridge in town by using primarily fresh, local Jeju Island ingredients. The porridges are prepared daily and they avoid the use of MSG. Jang and Jung believe customers are like family, and they refuse to serve clients food they are not willing to give to their own children. The owners are genuinely concerned about the well-being of the customers and serve their delicious porridges with a smile.
“I like [the porridge],” said Kim So Young, a customer at Haneul Nari. “The food is delicious, and I feel like I am in my dining room. It’s cozy and comfortable.”
“The food is great!” exclaimed another customer, Oh Mi Hwa. “Delicious!” added another, Lee Hae-sook.
Haneul Nari’s porridge menu includes a vast array of rice porridges (with prices varying from 6,500 won to 13,000 won) including vegetable rice porridges, seafood rice porridges and a special local abalone rice porridge with abalone caught by haenyeo, the iconic women divers of Jeju Island. They also serve a variety of coffee beverages as well as yuja cha (citrus tea), iced tea, ginseng tea and fresh fruit juice.
Over the course of a couple of visits to Haneul Nari, I had the opportunity to try the curry seafood porridge, the regular seafood porridge and the local bomal shellfish porridge. All were tasty and so filling that my stomach was satisfied all day without feeling bloated.
“The best part about owning this restaurant,” said Jung Min Young, “is that I give people a chance to enjoy local food.”
When asked about her inspiration for starting a porridge restaurant, Jung said that she began making porridge years ago with her mother, Yang Jung Im, who often helps at the restaurant. She said she did this because she was expecting her first child at the time and was concerned about feeding healthy food to her children. Jung admitted that she previously thought porridge was only for sick people but then she saw the potential as a healthy option for her children as well as a possible business venture.
Jung ran a Korean restaurant prior to her porridge restaurant, but she decided to take the leap and transform her business into a porridge restaurant in 2011 when these restaurants were becoming increasingly popular on Jeju Island.
Now with three young boys, Jang and Jung often think about the future and are contemplating launching a line of baby food porridge produced from organic local ingredients. For the time being though, they hope they can continue to provide scrumptious and filling food for their extended family, otherwise known as their customers.
Haneul Nari (Sicheong, City Hall)
9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Open daily except the 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month
1018-16 Ido 2-dong, Jeju City
064-753-2426 / 064-753-6288