We here at MMPK have been operating Korean traditional alcohol tours for the past year or so through our network of makgeolli lovers and personal recommendations. After thorough beta testing and development, we are now ready to launch our services to the world at large, and therefore have designed a brand new website to better showcase all the services we offer. From tasting tours, brewery & museum tours, private brewing classes, brewing certificate courses and our international client consulting, we have developed services for all your makgeolli and Korean alcohol needs!
So if you are looking for something special and unique to do while in Korea, or simply want to broaden your alcohol knowledge horizons, check out our new service website and get in touch 🙂
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.
Service: **** 4 Stars
Style: ***** 4 Stars
Ambience: **** 4 Stars
Overall: **** 4 Stars
Bossam 보쌈 4.5 **** (Juicy, tender, deep flavoured)
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.
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.
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.
This time of year is a busy one for the makgeolli and traditional liquor industry, with a number of festivals and events being held all over the country. The last Thursday of every October is also Makgeolli Day! This is a day dedicated to celebrating not just the drink itself, but all the hardworking brewers, industry professionals, and the fabulous fans of drinking our favorite brew.
This year Makgeolli Day falls on this Thursday October 30th, and to celebrate there will be a big festival in Insadong over the course of the weekend. As far as we know the opening ceremony on October 30th will be by invite only, however there will be programs and events open to the public all weekend. Unfortunately there is not much in the way of exact time information as yet, but we have requested more details and will be keeping everyone up to date via our Facebook page. If you missed the chance to visit the Ilsan Makgeolli Festival a few weeks ago, this will be a great opportunity to make up for it!
When: October 30th – November 2nd
Where: Insadong Cultural Street / Ssamzie Gil
What: Makgeolli tastings, Sommelier Booths, Exhibitions and Parade
As a conclusion to the Opening Ceremony MMPK, Susubori Academy and Makgeolli Makers will be showcasing this year’s Expat Makgeolli Brewers Contest. Ten of our keen makgeolli brewers, who have been studying techniques in our Brewing Mastery Course, have put together unique entries to be judged by attendees of the ceremony. We will release the full results and a write up on the event shortly after it’s completion.
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!
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).
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.
Recommendations: The area is, as previously mentioned, 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).
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 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, with 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. 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.
Mama 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.
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.
Story of the Blue Star was a place we had been wanting to try for months, and when we did…we weren’t disappointed. If you’re looking for a place which combines a traditional makgeolli atmosphere with premium quality makgeolli and food, this is it 🙂