One of the Best Burgers in the World is on a Tiny Island in South Korea
I have a habit of doing something I refer to as "unicorning." Unicorning is the act of ascribing superior qualities to an object or experience you've yet to attain due to the elusiveness of said object or experience. This fantastical practice often results in an inevitably disappointing return to earth when that once glorified and enigmatic object proves to be just eh, average, basic and not so unicorn-like after all. Yet once in a rare while, that unicorn confirms its exalted existence in the form of a meal or experience that actually meets or even exceeds my once lofty expectations.
One such proven unicorn is Ha Ha Ho Ho Cafe on Udo Island in South Korea. On a recent weekend getaway to the well-known Korean vacation spot Jeju Island, I took the short ferry ride over to Udo, rented a moped and joined the crowds of vacationers whipping around the island on their own rented contraption of choice. My cruise around the island came to an abrupt halt when we rounded a corner and saw a small mass gathering around the unassuming Ha Ha Ho Ho Cafe.
My nose, distracted by the wafts of garlic emanating from the cafe, led us inside to determine the source of the commotion. We discovered that Ha Ha Ho Ho Cafe serves burgers, sandwiches and salads made from the highly coveted Jeju black pork meat with sauces made of Udo's own roasted peanuts and garlic. After waiting in line behind several similarly eager diners-to-be, we learned that to our chagrin, this seaside shack makes a limited daily batch of its offerings and closes once it sells out (typically around 1:00-2:00 PM). Without even managing a sneak glimpse of a burger, severe disappointment set in and Ha Ha Ho Ho Cafe found its way to the top of my list of coveted unicorns.
A few weeks later, partially fueled by the selfish motivation of potentially scoring a Ha Ha Ho Ho burger, but mostly out of a desire to show her the beauty of South Korea's islands, I booked a trip for my mother (visiting from the Jersey Shore) and I to Jeju Island. Upon landing, we promptly made our way via ferry to Udo and snagged ATVs to explore the island. Dreading a second bout of "sold-out" disappointment, I rushed us to the cafe and with heart racing and taste buds pulsing, joined the ordering line.
After scoring a small rickety table overlooking the water, impatiently waiting 20 minutes for our order to be called, and getting a crash course in Ha Ha Ho Ho burger eating methods from an enthusiastic English-speaking employee, I returned to our table, the proud deliverer of two gigantic burgers. The peanut burger (₩10,000), with its umami-like balance of smoky, salty black pork meat and sweet, savory Udo peanut sauce was to my pleasant surprise, exactly what I hoped it would be. The garlic burger (₩10,000) proved equally delicious, featuring the same black pork patty now smothered in a garlic cream sauce and fried garlic chips. Full, happily satisfied, and on a temporary unicorn, sea breeze and Hite beer induced high, we sauntered back to our ATVs and enjoyed the rest of beautiful Udo.
HaHa HoHo Cafe
Address: Jeju-do, Udo-myeon, Yeonpyeong-ri, 859
Hours: 9:00 AM - Sold Out