"What?" (20/30 Alley)

Downtown, Daegu

The Good+ Delicious pork
+ With herbs and spices
+ Reasonably priced
+ Convenient location
The Bad   - Surrounded by decent alternatives
- Crowded and hectic seating
Best for: Groups, drinking

Downtown's '20/30 Alley' (20대30대 골목) is lined with suitable locations for eating out.  But perhaps the most famous, especially among foreigners, is "What?"  Some even refer to the whole alley as "What Street" in its honor.  What sets "What?" apart from the rest, aside from taking an English name and providing English menus, is their sauce as well as their herb-flavored pork.

("What's" Korean name is in Daegu dialect, "머꼬" spoken with a long, whiny emphasis on the second syllable.)

First, choose between Korean pork or, for nearly half the price, inferior Austrian waygook pork.  Presumably the price difference is justified by national pride.  That, and the foreign pork has lowered quality from being frozen and stored during importation.

Next, choose your topping.  "What?" specializes in pork with various herbs and spices, such as 통후추 (black pepper), 허브(dried mixed herbs) and 코라 (coke).  Pictured here at center is 오바마 ("Obama"), a combination of 올리브 (olive), 바질 (basil) and 마늘 (garlic).  Pictured on the right is 소갈비살 (beef rib meat).

The other specialty of "What?" is their 소스, or "sauce."  The secret recipe (looks like teriyaki and chunks of garlic) is so delicious it's included in the restaurant's full name ("What? 소스 삼겹살").  It comes in a neat little mortar and pestle dish, although this seems more for fanciness than functionality.  Regardless, the special sauce adds a whole new level of juicy flavor to their pork.  For beef, the suggested sauce is 기림장 (sesame oil sauce), which includes 소금 (salt).

Here's an all-time favorite, 통후추 (black pepper).

The smooth grill pan is tilted by design.  Gravity draws out samgyupsal's grease, which drips into the tray below.  This can be a healthy fat-removal system for those counting calories.  But those who prioritize porky deliciousness can build a grease dam with the side dishes.  콩나물 (bean sprouts), 마늘 (garlic) and long strips of 김치 (kimchi) can be stacked at the lower end to absorb the flavorful secretions.  MMMMmmm.

Not a conformist BBQ joint, "What?" does things differently when it comes to their 찌개's, or thick spicy soups.  While many places provide free 된장찌개 (fermented bean-paste soup), or free with an order of 공기밥 (rice), here you must pay \1,000 for each.  Instead, for their complimentary soup they give 김치찌개 (kimchi soup).  Both are decent here, although I always prefer the salty 된장찌개 for its strength as 안주 (anju), meaning chaser for Soju shots

"What?" has been open for 10 years, since 2003.  Their signs guarantee all natural ingredients, even in their addicting sauce.  They also promise to constantly monitor their service to provide the best for customers.  Sweet.


"What?" is a decent-sized place, with about 18 tables.  They each sit 4 comfortably, although most tables are combined, allowing for larger parties.  Otherwise, it's possible you'll be sitting with rowdy neighbors.  Its popularity and proximity to Club and Bar streets mean it's usually packed on weekends.  The wide bench seats with narrow walkways and connected tables may lead to a hectic scene.  So I'd avoid this place if seeking a quiet and peaceful dinner, or if agoraphobic.  Otherwise, it's a fun place to eat and drink.

Monday nights are safer than others.

"What?" is located on '20/30 Alley' (20대30대 골목), or Meat Street.  From 삼덕소방서 (Samduk Fire Station), head into downtown and make your first left onto "Club Street." Just before clubs Frog and MK you'll see the narrow Alley on your right.  "What?" is a few stores down on your right.  Look for their recently redecorated exterior, with white signs and grey walls (formally a redish theme).

The Address is: 대구광역시 중구 삼덕동1가 28-12
See map

If you're looking for another great place on '20/30 Alley,' check out "Meat Cooked by Men."

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