Basement, 407-409 Swanston Street
+61 3 9663 7123
Melbourne boasts of secret laneways and underground restaurants. Joomak is one such place, hidden in the basement of the Druids House along Swanston Street. Head downstairs and be welcomed by blue discotech fairy lights draped across each private dining cubicle, great for group huddling and gossiping over Korean nibbles and drinks.
Toong organised a girls night out to celebrate her birthday and hens night. It was a small gathering of herself, Long Legs, Q and me. Toong had been here several times and loved the pineapple soju. It tasted exactly like pineapple syrup, sans the taste or smell of alcohol, making it an underestimated beverage that is pleasant-tasting and easy to drink.
Food is of a share-plate concept with no individual rice dishes such as bibimbaps gracing the menu. A button is located on the pillar and pressing it signals the waiter to your table. That night we shared 5 dishes amongst us 4.
The dish of rice cakes with seafood was the first to be set down. Normally involving cheese, Long Legs had requested that the cheese be omitted. It wasn’t quite my thing. Firstly, I’m not a fan of the Korean rice cake, which I find rather dense and chewy. Also the sauce was heavy and sweet, making it a combination not to my liking. Long Legs does like the Korean rice cakes though, and found no fault with the dish.
The rest of the dishes captured my full attention, especially the kimchi and tofu soup (which is one of my favourite Korean dishes) and the kimchi and squid pancake. The soup, while nothing to shout about, ticks all the boxes of spicy, bubbling and comforting. Oddly enough I liked the pancake (I wasn’t expecting to), with its resilient chunks of squid and undetectable kimchi flavour.
We also shared a beef short-rib soup and a chicken stew dish whose particulars I don’t fully remember. Both was tasty and full of flavour, heart-warming and would be perfect for winter.
If you’re interested in some eclectic Korean food and love exploring Melbourne’s hidden spaces, give Joo Mak a visit when you’re next passing by.