When you stumble across something as unique and delicious as this, it’s worth sharing.
Like most non-natives here, I have found myself falling in love with Korean cuisine. A quest for new foods led me to an inconspicuous restaurant near Samyang Black Sand Beach on Jeju Island.
Passed by word of mouth, the name of this restaurant’s signature dish finally made it to me: hobakhunjeori (호박훈제오리). In English: smoked-duck-in-a-pumpkin. I like duck. I like pumpkin. It was worth a try.
In business for 6 years, the chef of Momaejon Garden (모메존 가든), Lee Jin Ro, moved with his wife to Jeju from the Chungcheon area. They originally opened a chicken restaurant in Seongsan before deciding to settle in Samyang with their new venture serving Chungcheon-style foods and the delicious hobakhunjeori.
We ordered two of the large-sized duck-in-a-pumpkin dishes for a group of eight of us. Of course the starting side dishes were tasty, but nothing spectacular. After about 25 minutes, the main dish arrived.
It was beautiful. A full, roasted pumpkin, cut and spread out, served as the “bowl” for a heaping pile of mini-oyster mushrooms and smoked duck. Drizzled over the entire dish was something of a sweet soy glaze. With a side of mustard for optional dipping, the duck was mouthwatering and full of flavor. Everything was perfectly cooked and was devoured all the way down to the last morsels of the roasted pumpkin.
From Jeju-si, follow the 1132 highway towards Samyang. Turn left at the light after the turn for Samyang Black Sand Beach. Momaejon Garden is just east of the Samyang Police Station.
Words and shots by Mary Rager-Summers