Namdaemun Market is one of the hottest tourist attractions in Seoul. People from all over the world, as well as the locals, come to visit the oldest marketplace in South Korea to explore, shop, and dine. The 600-year-old market has got anything and everything you could possibly imagine.
In the narrow alleyways hidden among tightly packed vendors, an old beef soup joint stands on what is called galchi golmok. The alley is filled with restaurants mostly selling braised cutlass fish except for Jinjujib.
Established in 1950, the restaurant started out in the underground of Namdaemun Market and gradually moved up to current location as its ox tail delicacy gained popularity.
After the war, the broth from cheap, leftover soup bones was widely consumed among the poor in Seoul. Seolleongtang, the beef bone soup, was considered as a peasant food while ox tail soup was treated as rare delicacy and enjoyed by the upper class.
Mrs. Kwon, the lady who founded the place, was born in southern city of Jinju and thus named the restaurant after her hometown. In 1996, after more than forty years of business, Kwon finally retired and passed on the torch to her distant relatives and also Jinju-born Ha Mi-sun, Ha Yang-suk sisters.
When I visited the place around 4pm on a Thursday (to avoid crowd), there was only one other table of four Japanese women. Apparently, one of the most memorable regulars that Ha sisters mentioned is a news reporter at NHK, who had been visiting for a bowl of ox tail broth for past twenty years whenever they’re in the country.
The meat on the bone makes you use your hands. Grab the tail bone and dip the meat in house-special chive dipping sauce. The milky soup warms up your belly and keeps it full for hours with noodles and rice.
22-2, Namdaemunsijang-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul