Unni Sarang Bang (운니 사랑방)

Name: Unni Sarang Bang (운니 사랑방)

Location: Unni dong (Anguk Station) (운니동 )

Reviewed by: Mamas and Papas on May 28th 2016

Interior shot
The Traditional Hanok interior


Thoughts: After taking a stroll through the traditional streets of Unni dong, one can stumble upon this recently renovated hanok that has been transformed into a home for Korean traditional alcohol.  With a fridge that boasts some of the best makgeolli available on the market, and an inspired menu of delicate flavors, Unni Sarang Bang can be a quiet place to dine and enjoy.

Location

Service:         **** 4 Stars

Style:            ***** 4 Stars

Ambience:   **** 4 Stars

Overall:         **** 4 Stars

Yongha explaingin
Detailed explanations of the menu are available

Food

Bossam 보쌈                            4.5 **** (Juicy, tender, deep flavoured)

Deodeok Duck 더덕덕            5 ***** (delicate, complex, surprising)

Guacamole & Nachos            5 ***** (perfect)

Spring leaf Jeon 봄나물 전    4 **** (earthy, green, light)

deodeok duck
The Deodeok Duck was a favorite of the evening

                                          

Makgeolli

Jahuihyang Nabi 자희향 나바                       4**** (refreshing, light, floral)

Cheonbihyang 천비향 탁주                            4**** (citrus, tart, tangy)

Samyangchoon 삼양춘                                   4*** (milky, buttery, creamy)

Hansan Sogokju 한산 소곡주                        3*** (smokey, earthy, sherry)

Sool-ah  술아                                                    3.5*** (Strong, sweet, syrupy)

Solseongju  솔성주                                          3*** (Pine, crisp, bitter)

guacamole and chips
Few can resist Guacamole!



What we liked: The Food.  We couldn’t stop raving about the food.  The flavors were so delicate and complex, and despite the traditional atmosphere, the dishes were updated and modern takes on classic Korean pairings.  It was a first time for any of our Mamas & Papas to have the opportunity to match makgeolli with guacamole, and it was a happy experience.  We were also very pleased with the extensive selection of top-shelf brews to choose from.  Two of our guests visiting from overseas exclaimed ‘Beats the pants off anything you can get in Thailand’. 

Note:  We have received word that the chef has since changed since our visit, so there may be some food menu changes.

Group shot
A satisfied group of MMPK Tasters

What we disliked: The limited range of regular makgeolli.  No denying the fridge was truly a sight to behold, however many of our Mamas & Papas expressed an interest in trying some lower alcohol content makgeolli.  One Papa commented ‘This would be a sit and sip kind of place, rather than a drink with friends place.’

Recommendation: If you find yourself in the Anguk / Insadong area and would like a peaceful respite with excellent food and Korean alcohol, this is your place.  The hanok location also makes it great for taking visitors to Korea to experience quality makgeolli in a beautiful setting.

Outside sign
The Outdoor Signage



Directions:
 Come out of Anguk Station (line 3) exit 4 and follow the main road as you pass a palace grounds on the left hand side.  When you reach Deoksung Women’s University on the corner, turn left.  Follow this street down until your third left, which will be a small narrow alley.  The restaurant is an old Hanok on the left about halfway down the alley with the doors wide open for you to come in.

Phone Number: 02-742-3633

Map: Here

Have you visited Unni Sarang Bang? Is there anything we could have mentioned? What were your likes and dislikes? Tell us your story by commenting here or on our facebook page

Nuruk Namu (누룩 나무)

Name: Nuruk Namu  (누룩 나무)

Location: Insadong (By Anguk Station)

Reviewed by: Mamas and Pappas on June 14th

 

photo1

Thoughts: Immediately around the corner and down the tiny alleyway in front of Anguk Station exit 6, in Seoul’s tourist hot spot of Insadong you’ll find Nuruk Namu (Nuruk Tree) next to the previously reviewed Story of the Blue Star. It’s a quaint place with lovely green plants and pastel tones; a naturally comfortable  place with its low light and wooden tables. Not a particularly large venue, although at the time we visited (with a rather inflated group) the place was busy, bustling and full of the jovial banter of more people than you would expect to be in a place this size. A fantastic atmosphere for an MMPK meet, and apparently quite a popular spot!

 

Overall: **** 4 Stars

Some serious contemplation  by our mamas and papas
Some serious contemplation by our mamas and papas

Food:

순대 복음 Sundae **** 4 stars                                          (Well cooked, well seasoned, “Best I’ve tried“, Smooth)

재육되지고기 Fried Pork **** 4 stars                          (Gochujang marinade, Soft, Well cooked, Delicious)

두부김치 Tofu Kimchi *** 3.5 stars                            (A fine rendition of the requisite makgeolli accompaniment )

벼없는 닭발 Boneless Chicken feet **** 4 stars (Moderate spice, juicy, chewy, wonderful)

 

Makgeolli:

팔공산  미나리  막걸리 (Dropwort/Japanese Parsley Makgeolli) ** 2 stars  (Bland, dry, abrupt finish, curious aftertaste )20140614203235353

유자 동동주 (Citrus Dong Dong Ju) *** 3 stars                                                                 ( Strong, orange rind, sour despite aspertame, Shot finish)

자희향 나비 (Ja Hui Hyang Nabi (Cheongju)) *****  5 stars                                    (Clean, , Sweet, Floral, Nice finish)

자희향 탁주 (Ja Hui Hyang Tak Ju (Makgeolli)) ***** 5 stars                                (Thick, Creamy, Balanced, Earthy)

 

Some other available brews included: Black Bean Makgeolli, Neurinmaul(느린마울), 봉평 메밀 막걸리 (Buckwheat), 대대보 (DaeDaePo). 

 

 

20140614211411724

What M&P Liked: The Variety. The menu presented a large range of Makgeolli, ranging from the common lower end bottles which were sweetened with aspartame, through to some of our favourite premium choices. The selection is perfect for those people curious to get an nice overview of the general makgeolli market. Our first time mamas and papas were afforded a wide choice of good and not so good bottles which really awoke their palates to the nuances of flavour that makgeolli boasts. In addition, our veteran mamas & papas had the chance to try a lot of bottles which we had not tried before, so an evening of mutual discovery and comparison was had by all.

 

What M&P Disliked: The noise? Well, it is hard to objectively pick out a fault with this venue as we had a very good time here.. Good drinks, great food and a fantastic atmosphere. However if you were to come here with the expectation of a quiet night of hushed conversation over a bowl of the magnificent brew, you might be scuppered by the crowd, as it appears to be quite a popular hangout. Perhaps a few more premium and non-aspartame bottles would be a nice finishing factor. However,  don’t let us put you off though, check it out for yourself and let us know about your experience.

Mixing Some 지희향 탁주! Yum!
Mixing Some 지희향 탁주! Yum!

Recommendations: The area is, as previously mentio20140614211328061ned, Seoul’s tourist mecca. So, if you are in the district, either to visit the temples and tea shops,  eat traditionally inspired food or forage for souvenirs at the abundant stores, then this is a great place to stop off and recount your Korean experience with an abundant choice of Korea’s favourite tipple. The owner seems quite happy to accommodate larger groups, though it is possibly best to reserve in advance. Any more than 10 could be an issue however.

Location: Go to Anguk station on line3,  exit 6.  Walk a whole 5 meters and turn left down a very narrow alley between a parking lot (left) and a building.  When the alley opens up, the makgeolli house will be on your right.   If you are familiar with Story of the Blue Star, it should be just next to it.  The name of the place is Nuruk Namu ( 누룩나무).

 

Map: here

Phone: 02-722-3398

 

Have you been to Nuruk Namu before? Tried more dishes or have more opinions? More questions? Leave us a comment below and tell us what you think!

 

Majung (마중)

Name: Majung (마중)

Location: Insadong

Reviewed by: Mama’s and Papa’s on: September 21st, 2013

Thoughts: A lot of houses in Insadong pour their bottled makgeolli into a kettle and call it their ‘house makgeolli’, and you never get to know what it is or where it came from.  Majung offers a very impressive range and selection of makgeolli from all over the Peninsula, and their menu has more pages for makgeolli than it does for food.  It carries almost all of the usual makgeolli you can find in bars, but also has some unusual offerings to be sampled.

Majung inside

LOCATION

Overall: ***1/2(3.5 stars)

FOOD
Seafood Pajeon (해물파전): (Not too fishy, spicy, fresh) *** (3 Stars)

Pork belly Bokumbap (삼겹살 볶음밥): (spicy, crunchy, a little oily) *** (3 Stars)

Bossam (보쌈):  (tender, spicy kimchi, fatty) *** (3 Stars)

MAKGEOLLI

Neurin Maeul (느린마을): (fragrent, fruity, smooth, thick) **** (4 Stars)

Dae Dae Po (대대포): (Tasty, sweet, dry finish, enjoyable) ****1/2 (4.5 Stars)

Apple (사과 막걸리): (watery, sweet, syrupy, cider like, rich) **** (4 Stars)

Sami Inju (사미인주): (thick, honey, sweet, yogurt like)  *** (3 Stars)

 

Majung Bar

Majung is deep into the back alleys off the main road of Insadong, and housed in a hanok.  It has a busy atmoshpere, and it has a high turnover of thirsty customers.  The highlight of Majung is the sheer range of makgeolli they have on offer.  There is a bar which showcases bottle after bottle of all the different kinds of makgeolli you might like to sample.  The food selection is not extensive, but it does the job for accompanying the many brews.

What Mamas & Papas liked: The Dae Dae Po Makgeolli.  Of all the different makgeolli we tried, the Dae Dae Po came out on top, Majung Bokkumwith one Mama  commenting  ‘It became my favorite one as of the moment I took a sip’.  Mamas & Papas also loved having such a wide selection of makgeolli to choose from, and we could have stayed trying more well into the night.

What Mamas & Papas didn’t like: The service. Majung Seafood Pajeon It is a busy establishment, but the waiter consistently got our order wrong or forgot to bring new bottles.   One Papa commented ‘They just took way too long on the Mak.’  Mamas & Papas were also not overwhelmed by the quality of the food, and most described it to be of average anjou standard.

DaedaepoMama Julia’s Note:  Dae Dae Po does not contain aspartame, but contains stevioside, which is a natural sweetner derived from the stevia plant.  It also uses real bee’s honey, and comes in a rather unusually styled bottle.  The ‘Blue Label’ is in the style of a whiskey bottle, purportedly because the brewer is also a big whiskey fan.  He also has a ‘Red Label’ makgeolli, though I have yet to see it on the market.

Recommendation: Majung is a great location for those looking for a varied makgeolli experience in Insadong.  Although the food is not the star here, it is a great place to get your taste buds trying a variety of different kind of makgeolli.  The atmosphere is quite loud and bustling, and they can also accommodate large groups.

Majung Outside How to get there:  Come out of Anguk Station exit 6 and walk towards the main street of Insadong.  Walk down the main art street for about five minutes until you see a street on your left ‘Insadong 10gil’.  Turn left down this street, and you should see a little alley on your right, and Majung (마중) should be at the end of it.

Address: 서울특별시 종로구 관훈동 29

Phone Number: 02-730-2985

Map: Here

Have you been to Majung before? Tried more dishes or have more opinions? More questions? Leave us a comment below and tell us what you think!

Story of the Blue Star (푸른별 주막)

Name: Story of the Blue Star (푸른별 주막)

Location: Insadong

Reviewed by: Mamas & Papas on: 22nd September, 2012

Thoughts:  Story of the Blue Star has had a lot of positive write ups, the Huffington Post even calling it “One of the coolest little bars in the whole world”.  It is a rustic and relaxed little  spot, hidden in the back alleys of Insadong in a converted Hanok.  It’s run by a famous stage and film actor, Choi Il Soon, whose true passion is travel.  The food is all organic, the makgeolli fresh and unique, and the atmosphere cozy and comfortable.

Photo Credit: Mimsie Ladner

LOCATION                                       FOOD

Service:       ****                              Dubu Kimchi (두부김치) :  ***1/2

Style:             **** 1/2                     Mak Jeon(막전):    ****1/2

Ambience:  ***1/2                          Deodeok Gui (더덕구이):  ****1/2

OVERALL:  ****                             Pork Bulgogi (돼지고기 연탄불고기):   ****

MAKGEOLLI

Saeng Makgeolli  (생막걸리):   ***1/2   (soft, sweet, smooth, spritzy)

Mulberry Leaf makgeolli (봉잎막걸리):       ***  (liquorishy, fresh, bitter, interesting)

Photo Credit: Mimsie Ladner

Note:  Also available is Mugwort, Green Tea, Taro and Doraji.  These powders are added to the saeng makgeolli to subtly blend the flavors.

Story of the Blue Star is the kind of place you’d like to go to sit back, have a couple of kettles and talk long and loud with good friends.  The interior is relatively small and the tables close, but the atmosphere is a fusion of relaxation and old traditional charm.  The menu is written up on the wall on scribbles of paper, and don’t be surprised if somebody whips out a guitar and has belts out a few tunes.

What Mamas & Papas liked :  The food.  All the ingredients were fresh and of high quality, so the food quickly vanished from our tables as soon as it arrived.  All Mamas & Papas raved about the Pork Bulgogi, which comes with lettuce and cabbage wraps.  

One Mama described it as “Simply awesome!”.

The dubu kimchi was also of top notch freshness, as we discovered they actually make their own tofu.  Mamas & Papas also were impressed by the freshness of the makgeolli.  It is just simple fresh makgeolli sourced from Sangju, but Mamas & Papas agreed it was delicious and easy to drink.

What Mamas & Papas didn’t like: The Makgeolli variations.  Mamas & Papas tried the mulberry leaf, mugwort and herb makgeolli, but many didn’t quite know what to make of it.   At first try of the mulberry leaf makgeolli, most Mamas & Papas thought it was more like a green tea flavor.  One Mama said “It would be better if the powder was mixed better.”  It was an interesting experience and certainly got us talking, and eventually it won some of us over, but overall it didn’t rate well against the saeng makgeolli.

Photo Credit: Mimsie Ladner

Recommendation: Story of the Blue Star is a great place if you’re looking for somewhere to sit and have a good long chat with friends over delicious food and fresh makgeolli.  It’s not a quiet location, so you can feel free to laugh and let your hair down without disturbing anyone else.  It’s a great place to introduce people to a taste of the old style Korea mixed with a lively energy.

How to get there:

Go to Anguk station on line3,  exit 6.  Walk a whole 5 meters and turn left down a very narrow alley between a parking lot (left) and a building.  When the alley opens up, the makgeolli house will be on your right.  You may feel unsure about being in the right place, but you are, it’s a hanok. Head on in!

Map: here

Phone Number: 02 734 3095

 

Links:

You can read more about the man behind Story of the Blue Star at Seoul Eats, and read another review at Hejorama, And our own Mama Mimsie Ladner did a great write up at her blog Seoul Searching.

Have you been to Story of the Blue Star before?   Tried more dishes or have more opinions? More questions?  Leave us a comment below and tell us what you think!