Myeongdeok Market

Myeongdeok Market
(명덕 시장)

III. Banchan

I love wandering the markets of Daegu.  They remind me of an earlier time -- a time before we had to spend thousands on a meal, before additives and preservatives debased our diet -- a time when the main ingredient was grandma's loving "hand flavor" (손맛).  Cheap, healthy and delicious.  In my opinion, that's the holy trinity of a perfect meal, and Daegu's many markets are its shrines.

According to Navermaps, there are roughly 50 markets throughout the city.  Odds are you live minutes from one and its unique, local flavors.  While in the past we've reviewed specific restaurants within Markets, ROKin' Daegu is planning a new series that investigates whole markets themselves.  So for our first episode let's start small in southern Daegu with Myeongdeok Market.

One common trait of most markets is the street food, or bunshik (분식).  Makes an easy snack, or even a meal for those lacking funds or time.
The quickest and most prevalent of all street foods are fish cakes on sticks, known as "Oh-daeng" (오뎅).  They are to fish what hotdogs are to pigs, in terms of quality and content.  Pour a small dish of soy sauce (간장) for dipping and a cup of the broth for drinking.  Don't worry, all airborne toxins, insects and viruses are boiled away for harmless flavor.
Soft gooey rice-cakes slathered in a spicy/sweet sauce, "ddeokbokki" (떡볶이) is an essential food group and primary source of sustenance for Korean youth.  Just remember: always buy ddeokbokki from the booth with the longest line.  Logic dictates that the random dude who started the line hours ago knew best.
Various deep-fried snacks are known as "tuee-gim" (튀김).  Pictured here, clockwise from top-right, are noodled-kimbap (김말이), sweet potato (고구마), shrimp (새우), squid (오징어), pepper (고추), and potato (감자).
Flat dumplings, or "napjak mandu" (납작만두), are specialties of Daegu found exclusively in this city.  Only here did a culinary pioneer take a common dumpling, remove most of its interior, and declare the remaining shell a new specialty.  Such innovation... It's actually quite a scrumptious snack.
Eat here at their cozy indoor seating areas.

 Or take out by asking "po-jahng hae joo-sae-yo" (포장해주세요).  They'll package your bunshik along with some soy sauce and pickled radishes.

Two sets of chopsticks?  How nice of them to assume I'm not a shameless hog who devours whole luncheons in solitude.   
Here's the Bunshik (분식) menu.  I'll post a translation if you want.  Just request it in the comments below, anonymously if you wish.

While street snacks tend to be universal, main dishes usually vary from market to market.  For example, Seonam Market is famous for its pig feet, while Chilseong Market is famous for its seafood (and dog meat).  Myeongdeok Market, being smaller than average, offers a little of both.

A seafood restaurant is the first thing you'll notice upon entering the market.
They have various fish depending on the season, as well as squid (오징어) and the B-52's favorite, "rock" octopus (돌문어).
Or if you prefer them cold and dead, Myeongdeok Market has options.

Pork vendors line both sides of the street towards the market's center.  This is the place to visit next time you're craving some face or ear.  They also have pig feet (족발) for only 7,000krw per foot.  That's 1/3rd the price as pig feet at Seonam Market, where it is more popular (and probably better quality).
Standard "meal houses" (밥집) can also be found towards the market's central intersection.  With menus similar to your common Orange Kimbap joints, they offer bibimbap (비빔밥), various spicy soups (찌게), noodle soups (국수) and rice dishes (덮밥). 
This is fermented-bean-paste soup, or dwenjangjjigae (된장찌게).  Here it is served in the traditional style of jungshik (정식), meaning a complete meal with rice, soup and sides (plus a happy egg, in this case).
The offer stands here as well: I'll post a menu translation. Just ask and ye shall receiveth. 

Banchan (반찬) refers to one of the greatest qualities of Korean cuisine: side dishes -- and lots of them.  Veggies, seafood, seaweed, veggies, eggs, veggies, pork, veggies, veggies.  Fermented, boiled, steamed, stir-fried, deep-fried, sour, spicy, sweet.  The options are wider than Psy's face.  If you had a Won for every type of Banchan you could almost afford one.

The smaller trays at this end are 2,000krw each.
The larger trays at this end are 3,000krw each.
Here are two of my favorites: glazed fried fish (쥐포볶음) and spicy clams (꼬막).  Along with rice, this banchan was enough for two or three quick home meals and only cost 5,000krw! 


Myeongdeok Market is in the center of Nam-Gu (남구), or Daegu's "Southern District."

By car it's less than 10 minutes and 5,000krw from downtown.  Tell a cabbie (or GPS) "myuhng-duck shee-jahng" (명덕 시장).

By subway, ride the red line (1호선) to Yeungnam University Hospital Station (영대병원역).  Surface through any exit and between them you'll see the arched market entrance.

The specific address is: 대구 남구 대명동 139-1
Open Naver map

For more great food in the Markets of Daegu, check out:

This review is the first in-depth look at a Market itself.  We plan to review more though, and support these wonderful local economies.  What's your favorite market in Daegu?

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