Jin golmok(‘jin’ is a Daegu dialect of ‘gin’, which means ‘long’) is a ”long“ golmok (side street) but it’s actually rather short and narrow. When I went into the alley for the first time, I doubted if there were other alleys like this. Where is Jin Golmok? First, cross the street from Dongseongro area toward Yakryeongsi (the street with a many great medicinal herb stores behind Dong-a Department Store and Hyundai Department Store). Walk along the Yakryeongsi alley until you see the first four-way intersection. Make a right at the corner and walk down about 15m then you’ll be between a rice cake store and a traditional teahouse. Go through the alley and you will see another small alley on the opposite side. The alley you just passed and the other one that you are facing were connected before, and the whole alley is the original Jin Golmok. In the late 1970s, two fire roads were made through the original alley and many shops and restaurants opened on those fire roads.
The narrow alley mingled with old Korean-style houses blocks makes noise from downtown and it gives you the feeling that you are in another place. My friends who visited my guest house on Jin Golmok for the first time would say that they felt like being cut off from the world and in a totally different place. Jin Golmok is in Seongnae-dong and Seongnae means “inside of a rampart” of Dalseong in Joseon time. Therefore, the Seongnae area was downtown before downtown became Dongseongro. For today’s youngsters, it’s just an old alley in the downtown while among the elderly people it still maintains a glorious spirit of yesteryear. One can often see an old man in a trench coat with a fedora or an old lady dressed up at Jin Golmok. Nearby Korean style houses were used as houses of nobles and then turned into high-class Korean style restaurants. Unfortunately only one remained. Now there are restaurants with amazing homemade dishes.
If the Nile is the lifeline of Egypt then Jin Golmok is the lifeline for office workers. It is also the Holy Land for gourmet food. Most restaurants are at least 15 years old and the food quality is supreme. For my readers, I’d like to introduce the best five restaurants on Jin Golmok, which have been recommended by domestic bloggers and local people.
1. Cheonggukjang & Bori Bibimbap
- Woori Sikdang (Restaurant ‘Woori’): This fifty-year-old restaurant has the most delicious boribap (boiled barley) in Daegu and it’s across from Jin Golmok Guest House. The average price is 5,000~7,000 KRW. It serves meals with abundant side dishes.
2. Baekban (Korean meal consisting of rice and side dishes called ‘banchan’)
- Songjeong Sikdang (Songjeong Restaurant) : A company which was called Kolon brought a revolution in nylon clothing from the textile industry in 1954. The first CEO of that company was very devoted and actually lived in the building of that restaurant. The facilities are still owned by Kolon and the restaurants inside serve a delicious baekban, the meal which consists of rice and side dishes. It takes some time to prepare any of those tasty dishes but the time goes fast while you look around inside the finely crafted interior.
- Jongro Chobab & Miseong Chobab: It was opened in the 1970s when fire road was made. They are prominent sushi restaurants on Jin Golmok. Their sushi is made of “fresh fish” (matured/ripen fish) and its taste and texture are better than “live fish” (alive fish). You can have food of better quality with a cheaper price.
4. Chinese Food
- Yeongsaengdeok: Near Jin Golmok, there were Chinese restaurants at Jongro where the Chinese settled since the Japanese colonial era. As time went by some restaurants were taken over by new owners and the original tastes changed. On the other hand, Yeongsaengdeok still keeps their old taste and atmosphere. The most popular menu is “gogi mandu” (meat dumplings), the steady-seller of the restaurant for 40 years.
- Mido Dabang (Cafe Mido): This old cafe is located at the entrance of Jin Golmok. They offer 1970s-80s era coffee as well as the traditional tea. Jeong In-sook, the owner of the cafe, opened it in 1992 and has run it for twenty years. Many writers have visited that place over the years including Jeon Sang-yeol, who dedicated his “Mido Dabang” poem to that cafe. It’s worth trying a cup of americano with the egg yolk. 2,000-4,000 won is enough for your budget while snacks and tea are for free.
Namseong-ro, Jung-gu, Daegu