Jeju Island – The night we ate a grilled fish head

Casual seafood restaurant, Hyeopjae Beach, Jeju Island

We were walking around in Hyeopjae Beach, looking for a place to eat, when we stumbled upon this cozy seafood restaurant. It was a very casual place, but it seemed popular among the locals. Nobody spoke English, but the staff was very friendly, and we managed to place our order by pointing at different items in the menu.

We had a selection of raw fish, which we ate wrapped in lettuce and with a spicy dipping sauce, which was delicious. We also had a seaweed soup and some grilled shellfish, which was also very nice, but soon we started noticing how people kept ordering something we assumed was a fish served straight from the grill. We got curious and asked the staff if we could also have whatever the other guests were having, but they politely gestured that we couldn’t. Now we got even more curious about what that secret, for-locals-only, delicacy was, so we asked once again, and we were once again told that no, we couldn’t order that. But I kept insisting, and finally, they reluctantly took our order.

It took a few minutes before a plate with a grilled fish head landed at our table, and I could see how the staff, almost apologetically, was waiting for our reaction. Obviously, they did not want to serve us the fish head because they did not think we would not like it.

We tried not to laugh and silently agreed that it would be embarrassing not to eat the fish head, now that we had insisted so hard on having it, and it wasn’t bad at all. The meat around the cheeks were delicious, and the skin was nice and crispy, so we ate up everything except from the eyes.

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