We love Korean food. Let’s face it, there aren’t many things better than a bowl of hot sundubu-jjigae on a winter night or a plate of japchae when you’re feeling down (or up, really. Japchae is kind of an “always food”). Finding a good Korean restaurant in Montreal is no easy task though, especially one we could both agree on. So it took many months of trial and error to finally settle for our favourite. And that we did: Jumak!
I [Henry] discovered this hidden gem a few years ago. Jumak is a tiny, cozy restaurant that is almost perfectly in the middle of the Côte-Des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-De-Grâce borough. It’s pretty below the radar compared to a lot of other NDG mainstays. Even though I actively seek out new and different restaurants and food shops all the time, I still managed to miss Jumak despite often visiting the neighbourhood.
It wasn’t until a friend who lived in the neighbourhood wandered into Jumak out of sheer curiosity that this restaurant even entered my orbit of awareness. And boy, was I happy it did.
Fast forward a couple of years. When I discovered that Mariam loves Korean food more than she loves air 😛 , I knew I had to take her there. The first occasion I found to do so was on a cold, wet, wintry day. Of course, I had my work cut out for me, since Mariam’s had really good Korean in the many many cities she’s visited. It took some talking, but I managed to convince her to try Jumak. Hoo boy, did it take some talking…
You can imagine my surprise [Mariam] when we parked near a tiny restaurant in the middle of NDG. I thought, “This can’t possibly be the place he’s been talking about?” It’s small, quiet, with a sparse decor. I give Henry a suspicious look, and he gives me the “don’t worry, you’ll see” look. I’m not convinced. I check my phone very quickly to see what people say about this place, and realize that they don’t even have a website. I’m even less convinced.
We go in, and we are greeted by a very charming staff. They seem friendly, courteous, and quite warm. it looks like a family business which immediately puts me at ease. This might actually be okay.
Then, they sit us by the window and bring us the menu and some tea. The menu is in the form of a parchment scroll. Quite unique and attractive. Okay, now I’m warming up to this place. The tea tastes delicious and is quite refreshing. And, the menu is full of dishes I recognize from previous Korean restaurants. They have all my favourites: Sundubu-jjigae, bibimbap, cup bap, pajeon, and more.
This being my first time here, I wanted to try something relatively simple. I always find that the simplest dishes are often the best to test how good the chef is. Plus, these are usually the dishes I know best so I can tell how authentic it is with a very quick taste. So, I settled for their bibimbap. And I got the pork donkatsu, being the meat-lover that I am. We also ordered a kimchi pancake (pajeon) to share. And later on added a sweet pancake with ice-cream (hotteuk). Because, honestly, there is always room for dessert!
And, well, we were left with one hell of good impression, and have been going back since then.
Let us tell you why.
Pretty much every dish we’ve tried so far has been quite satisfying and some have even been purely excellent: The sundubu, the cup bap, and the bibimbap to name a few. In addition, the noodles are great, the stews even better, and their handle on grilling is to kill for.
Beyond the food being great, Jumak has earned our adoration for a few other reasons. First, every time we go, we’re grateful that we found a place than we can both agree on; second, their food is always consistently good; third, the service is fast and courteous; and finally, Jumak’s hidden gem status has always meant neither lineup nor long wait for exquisitely tasty, unpretentious food at great prices.
Hm. Why are we sharing this place with you all again? :p