[Migyulin Guide] #11. Quiète
Korean vocabulary of the day
Gyul (n): Korean word for tangerine, a delicacy of Jeju.
There are some odd and quirky places that just seems out of places all around the island, like a cafe facing the ocean in seemingly abandoned neighborhood or a small souvenir shop in a fairly remote part of Jeju. These places make you feel like they have been swept away by a tornado from Kansas to Land of Oz. The beauty of these places comes from the complete unexpectedness. An Italian bistro, Quiète in Wolpyeong, Seogwipo is one of those places. Quiète in Italian is quiet and calm. And this name adequately shows the atmosphere of the neighborhood, Wolpyeong as directly it can. To paint the picture for you, when Pokémon GO was sweeping the international popularity, Wolpyeong was the neighborhood with not even a single Gym, or a PokéStop, for that matter. What I'm trying to say is that this is not the kind of place with enough traffic you'd expect at a place to get some Italian food as there are nothing but small residential houses. It is difficult to believe that there is a Italian bistro at a village with the average age of residents at somewhere in the 70s.
But the name that means quiet and calm, the atmosphere of the bistro and the air of Wolpyeong all helps to enhance the overall experience at Quiète. When dining at a restaurant it is important not only to create delicious dishes but to manage the atmosphere to which Quiète stats loyal.
Upon entering the bistro, you will notice the place has done minimal work of construction to make you feel you are entering a real Jeju home, almost to make you feel you are at a small shop in small suburban town of Italy. When you are seated to your table, you will also notice the vintage cutleries and dishes. From the interior design to small decors, you will know the owner values the entire experience from the atmosphere to the food at Quiète.
After all, the most important aspect when dining out is the food itself. Even with the most dazzling decor and most expensive cutleries, without the tastiest food, it will just be all style, no substance.
It can vary by person to judge a place as a good Italian restaurant, but my two cents goes to the gnocchi. Gnocchi are small soft dough dumplings made with ingredients like semolina, wheat flour and potato. Gnocchi di patata, or the potato gnocchi are one of the most popular and widely available versions of this dish in Korea. These gnocchi are made such complicated process. They need to be freshly prepared from the dough which makes it an uncommon option at restaurants. So it is a safe bet to assume when a restaurant offers gnocchi, it is an above average restaurant. This is my tip of the day.
Quiète offers various types of gnocchi, and I can assure that no other Italian places in Korea offers this texture. Of course, there are great Italian restaurants all throughout the peninsula that serve gnocchi, but most of the time the pasta was way too over-cooked. But the gnoccchi at Quiète has the perfectly glutinous pasta with the wonderful texture from potatoes and wheat flour.
The perception of texture is completely subjective and may vary but this has been the most satisfying gnocchi I have ever had. And the basil pesto made with home grown basil brings out the flavor as well.
Note: I learned later that Quiète had received a harsh review from a customer about the doneness of the gnocchi. The customer supposedly had said that it is way too over-cooked. Maybe that's why the texture is as it is now.
Other than a plate of gnocchi with the full flavor and appropriate texture with fragrant basil pesto, we ordered Carbonara Pasta and Pepperoni Pizza. The carbonara wasn't the authentic Italian style but had cream sauce but was made with fresh pasta which had such a satisfying texture. Of course, the sauce was complementing the pasta so adequately. The thick cut bacon, a style hard to find in Korea, in the pasta dish earned an extra brownie points.
An Italian homemade meal in a small town in Jeju and a bottle of beer would be perfect for those looking for an exotic getaway in Jeju.