King of the (Don)Kasu
Of all the places my wife and I have tried donkasu together, including a 50,000 won per person place in Tokyo, we never expected that it would be in the middle of nowhere in North Jeolla province that we would find the donkasu by which all other donkasu would be measured from now on.
Heaven, Earth, Water, Wind is run by a friendly woman that ran a popular Italian restaurant in Yangjae-dong, Seoul for years. Tiring of the rat race, along with her semi-retired architect husband, she decided to relocate to somewhere with a slower pace of life and some nice scenery. I have to agree that the location they found is stunning:
The odd-looking dome in the picture, also known as a “Korean Eco-House,” is the restaurant.
With a view of the mountains across Byun-sahn bay, and crops growing right up to the deck next to the dining area, it’s a great place to view beautiful sunsets. Weather (and mosquitoes) permitting, they open up the sliding glass doors to let the breeze come through the dining room.
The interior of the restaurant won’t impress the Gangnam crowd, but by countryside standards it’s open, bright, and comfortable.
Okay, enough about the setting. What about the food?
The restaurant aims to class things up a bit down here in Jeollabuk-do. As such, it is the only restaurant I’ve been to in the region that serves the food in courses. They get things started with a soup. Below you can see the pumpkin soup:
The soup is always great, but I prefer the broccoli. Unfortunately they don’t have it as much these days since the price of broccoli has shot through the roof.
When you finish your soup, the chef’s grandfatherly husband (and semi-retired architect) clears the table to make way for the main entrees. As a rule, I always order the pizza donkasu (12,000 won), and my wife gets the curry version (8,000 won). All variations are served with a scoop of rice on the side.
On days they can’t make one of those two for some reason, we’ll get the plain old donkasu (6,000 won) instead.
Not as pretty or filling as the others, but still holds its own. The chef is very proud of her pasta dishes (each with a heaven, earth, water, or wind theme) and is quick to recommend them. I’ve tried a couple of them before and they were good, but I’m just not much of a pasta person. Frankly, their donkasu is the reason we drive 40 minutes both ways to eat there. Friends of ours have tried the pasta and had favorable reviews so if someone in your party is trying to avoid fried food, I’m sure it’s a good option, especially considering the chef says her specialty is Italian food.
As you finish your main course, you’ll be treated to their home-made yogurt topped with a sauce made from locally-grown boysenberries.
Finally, you’ll have your choice of coffee or tea to finish the meal. Depending on availability, they might serve a small cookie for each diner. This isn’t the highlight of the meal, but it’s a nice touch and at least it’s better than the mix coffee machines most restaurants have by the door.
Whenever we’ve had visitors from out of town, this is the place we always take them to eat. I would definitely recommend it for anyone that happens to be in or near the region. If you’re super hungry, the donkasu course probably won’t fill you up, but if you go there with another person and each get a pasta dish, you could easily split a donkasu. Or you could do what we did today and just order three orders for two people.
For some better pictures of the restaurant itself, I recommend checking out this Korean-language Naver blog that focuses mostly on the architecture of the building.
13-3 Dueo-ri, Simwon-myeon, Gochang-gun, Jeollabuk-do, South Korea
Phone number: 063-563-3869