Joomak is a nifty, little Korean place located in a spot that you probably walk past everyday. In fact, it’s located immediately across the university I attended for three years, and I still never noticed!
Of course, there’s a reason for that. It’s located downstairs, with the only signage evident after you poke your head into a random doorway and spot the pictured Joomak signs.
Once you walk down the random stairway, not sure what to expect, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when some warm blue lights and private booths greet you. There are smaller tables out in the open, but we made a reservation, so we were led to a spacious booth.
For a place I hear of so often, the menu seemed quite succinct (click image for larger picture). We were actually hoping for Korean BBQ but didn’t realise that they don’t offer it.
On the brightside, this made it easier to choose as we were especially hungry.
I can never pass on most Korean pancakes. I usually order the seafood but as one friend wasn’t a fan of seafood, we thought we’d try the kimchi and pork.
This was not bad, a little thin, but it was good to have a bit of meat in there. Of course it tasted better with a bit of dipping sauce (bottom dish), which seemed to be some mix of soy and sesame? Not an expert on the sauces that come with Korean food, but I know that I like them! You also get a bundle of kimchi (above the sauce) and interestingly a side dish akin to a pasta salad. We ordered a few more dishes, and as often with Korean food it’s all about their marinated meat. Pictured above is the mild pan-fried pork ($15). It looks a bit small compared to other restaurants and for the price, and it also didn’t look as red as other places, which usually comes from some classic, spicy Korean sauce.
However, we did ask for mild and despite the appearance, I could taste a similar flavour to that red Korean sauce. It wasn’t really spicy at all, but that familiar Korean pork flavour demonstrates that it’s hard to go wrong with this dish.
I preferred the pork to our beef bulgogi ($33, above), which has less of a flavour but kept me coming back because it has some Korean noodles underneath. This helped to satisfy one of my friends and I, as we were disappointed we couldn’t find japchae, sweet potato noodles, on the menu.
We also ordered the deep fried chicken drummettes ($15 for 7 pieces). This came with a sweet chilli dipping sauce. Like The Bakeanista, I found this similar to a Chinese fried chicken, the skin not as crunchy and crumbed as most contenders in this new KFC/Korean Fried Chicken craze.
But, what really got us was the drinks. Unsurprisingly, Joomak is also a popular bar, thus the small tables are available to those just after a few drinks, or there are some stools along the side. Above, you will see a strawberry soju cocktail that one friend ordered, with a little shot-like glass hiding behind it.
Another friend ordered the pineapple, and they both taste quite fruity with the alcohol not obvious. My friend and I received a lychee version for two, and for some reason it tasted a lot a stronger (but still good). I think they were about $17, so they really add up in your bill!
This place was not a standout to me, surprisingly after so many raving reviews. But, I’ve decided that after I saw this Instagram post from Food For My Belly that I’ll definitely need to return for the rice cakes with cheese and seafood. Looks devilishly good!
Joomak is located at 407/409 Swanston St, Melbourne CBD and is open Mon-Tue 5pm-1am, Wed–Thurs 5pm-3am and Fri-Sun 5pm-5am according to their Facebook.