Eats Jeju Island South Korea

(Shark?!) for the Soul: Willala Fish and Chips on Jeju Island

Willala Fish and Chips (and Shark!): Best Fish and Chips on Jeju Island
“Craving fish and chips on the real right now,” I whined to Ben (in typical fashion) expressing my yearning for what seemed like a pie in the sky on Jeju Island, South Korea.
We were staying at the Yellow Submarine in Seongsan-ri in order to hike the iconic Sunrise Peak at the crack of dawn the next morning. The familiar salty ocean air of Seongsan-ri inspired childhood memories of fish and chips at Neptune’s Net in Malibu, and I had trouble declaring kimchi chigae (kimchi stew) an adequate substitute (as purely delicious it is!).


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“Good luck!” Ben responded. Because surely, finding fish and chips on Jeju Island just wouldn’t happen. Surely, we’d end up snagging a kimbap (rice and seaweed roll with a variety of fixin’s) or hovering over a steaming hot pot of some variety of red hot spicy stew. Surely we’d resign ourselves to the food we’d been eating for a year living in South Korea, delicious, to be sure, but not the food our nostalgia currently begged for.

Minutes later, we stumbled upon Willala Fish and Chips, arguably the best fish and chips on Jeju Island. I just love proving Ben wrong.

Willala Fish and Chips sign, Jeju Island

The Heart Wants What It Wants

I adore Korean food—the savory kimchi jeon (kimchi pancake), stews bursting with spice and sour and swagger, an entire spectrum of flavors largely unmatched, and every meal treated like a feast to be served with a platter of sides and pickles. Anthony Bourdain calls the food of Korea “an emerging and important cuisine that I’d like to know more about.” And surely, we’re lucky to be living smack dab in a country which birthed a cuisine currently enthralling some of the world’s best up-and-coming chefs. And we certainly take advantage of this every day.


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But memory and nostalgia are powerful, and smell is a formidable trigger. Walking around that small beach town at the foot of Seongsan Ilchulbang and inhaling that salty sea air, the heart couldn’t help but want what it wanted: fish and chips on Jeju Island (a difficult feat when it involves finding international food on the still largely un-waygooked Jeju Island). As if an answer to our prayers, Willala Fish and Chips on Jeju Island appeared to us.

Willala Fish and Chips, Jeju Island

Shark & Chips

One little surprise exists on the menu: Willala’s house specialty includes fillets of battered shark meat. We weren’t feeling that adventurous (shark meat wouldn’t exactly fulfill that nostalgia criteria, after all), and so we ordered a couple of good ol’ fish and chips plates at the counter and found a seat.

Willala Fish and Chips Menu (with shark!)

Drinks

Willala’s drink menu has some affordable draft beer at ₩3000 (about $2.56 USD), as well as coffee, hot cocoa, and a variety of juices.
 Drink Menu at Willala Fish and Chips, Jeju Island

 

The Digs

The surf-themed shack can hold a maximum of three parties, but it’s perfect for take-out. The fish and chips at Willala are made fresh, which means you wait a little, but it’s worth it. After some brief anticipation (fully resisting the urge to overwhelm Ben with I-told-you-so’s) our glorious steamin’ plates were delivered to us as if on clouds from the heavenly sky above.

 

Willala Fish and Chips Kitchen
Surf-themed fish and chips shack on Jeju Island

 

Best Fish and Chips on Jeju Island

A nightmare for the waistband but a godsend for your cravings, the red plates bore fish, crispy, light, and golden, crowned by a single onion ring as if to commemorate the royalty of the feast we were about to engage in, and a bed of Lauren-tested, Lauren-approved, freshly-made fries.


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The supporting cast included a very small salad garnished with black olives, tomatoes, and a sweet dressing drizzle, as well as a helping of ketchup and tartar sauce topped with wasabi tobiko. Tabasco was available, but, to the dismay of the Filipina half of my palate, no vinegar.

 

Fish and Chips for Two on Jeju Island
A Happy Expat on Jeju Island

 

The trays landed and we pounced. One gobble-ful: a bite of chunky, flaky John Dory fish still glistening gently from the fryer. The next: a kingly sword of french fry dipped heartily in ketchup. Victory was had. Warm, comforting, hug-for-your-tummy victory. A triumph for fish and chips on Jeju Island.

 

Willala's Fish and Chips plate

 

Gobble, we did. We ate until our plates looked clean and Ben, leaning a mournful glance in my direction, moaned he could still devour another entire plate. “That good?” I asked. His sedated food-coma nod told me yes. And then, my heroism weakened by my culinary intoxication, I finally let those good words slip.

 

“Told you so.”
 Empty Fish and Chip Plates at Willala Fish and Chips on Jeju Island

 

Getting There

Willala Fish and Chips on Jeju Island
Address: 성산읍 성산중앙로33, Seogwipo, Jeju-do, South Korea
Phone: 064-782-5120
Hours: Open from 12 pm to 11 pm

From Jeju-si Intercity Bus Terminal: Take the 701 or 710 bus. The 701 leaves every 15-20 minutes starting from 5:40 AM until 9 PM . The 710 bus leaves every 25-30 minutes starting from 6:15 AM until 9 PM.  The 701 is the eastbound coastal route, and is a bit longer than the 710 bus because it makes many stops at coastal villages on the way. The 701 bus ride takes about one and a half hours, and the 710 ride about an hour and five minutes.

From Seogwipo: The easiest way is to catch an eastbound 701 bus heading to Seongsan. You can get the bus from Seogwipo Intercity Bus Terminal or Dongmun Rotary in downtown Seogwipo.

From both directions, get off at the Ilchulbong Entrance stop (일출 입구).The restaurant will be a few minutes walk south down Seongsan Jungang-ro on the west side of the street.

 


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Willala Fish and Chips (and Shark!): Best Fish and Chips on Jeju Island

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5 Comments

  • Reply
    Candy
    June 14, 2016 at 8:11 am

    Once again, you’re making me hungry with those gorgeous photos and descriptions. I love the homey atmosphere of that place!

    • Reply
      Lauren West
      June 14, 2016 at 9:31 am

      Then our job here is finished! Thanks for the compliments, Candy! 🙂

  • Reply
    Anna Schlaht
    June 14, 2016 at 11:27 pm

    I didn’t know I wanted fish and chips until I read this post. Now, all I want is fish and chips, and maybe some delicious kimchi to boot. Ugh, it all sounds so good.

    Thanks for sharing! I’m starving but also oddly satisfied seeing all the mouth-watering photos and reading your well-written post. If we ever make it to Jeju, we’ll have to stop by Willala Fish & Chips for sure.

    • Reply
      Lauren West
      June 15, 2016 at 8:35 am

      Oh thank you so much, Anna! Hoping you do make it to Jeju one day. It’s not necessarily on-the-radar for many travelers yet, but it’s certainly worth a visit!

  • Reply
    Television of Nomads
    November 30, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    […] (Shark?!) for the Soul: Willala Fish and Chips on Jeju Island […]

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