Name: Outdoor Lessons (야외 수업)
Location: Hongdae (홍대)
Reviewed by: Mamas & Papas July 11th, 2015
Thoughts: If you’ve got a hankering for camping but just can’t seem to get out of iron grip of Seoul, you can head for the bar hell bent on simulating the outdoor camping experience indoors. Camping themed restaurants and bars seem to be lingering trend in across Seoul, but what sets this place apart is the focus on Korean traditional alcohol. Outdoor Lessons (야외 수업) is an outdoors camping themed bar, but rather than focusing on makgeolli, it is developing a name for itself in soju.
When you hear the words ‘soju bar’, it might conjure images of dozens of green bottles and a very rowdy crowd. However, Outdoor Lessons has a range of popular, mid-range and hard to find sojus and even cheongjus (약주/청주), without the rough crowd. The food is delicious, and combined with the relaxed atmosphere it makes for a very different soju experience than the usual hof.
Service: **** 4 Stars
Style: *** 3.5 Stars
Ambience: **** 4 Stars
Overall: **** 4 Stars
Seafood Pajeon (해물 파전): *** 3 Stars ~ Crispy, Generous, Satisfying
Wagyu Beef (와규 소고기) : 4 **** Stars ~ Tender, Succulent, Silky
Raw Beef Sashimi (육회) **** 4 Stars ~ Fresh, Soft, Delicious
Herb Grilled Pork (허브 삼겹살) *** 3 Stars ~ Fragrant, Juicy, Moorish
Recommended Soju & Cheongju:
Omaegi Sul (오메기술) *** 3.5 Stars ~ Apple, Dusty, Floral, Citrus notes
Najang Bokbunja (내장산 복분자) **** 4 Stars ~ Subtle, Fruity, Peppery Aroma, Warming
Hansan Sogokju (한산 소곡주) *** 3 Stars ~ Charred fruit, Syrupy, Meaty, Woody
Arirang Hongju (아라랑 홍주) ** 2.5 Stars ~ Cherry, Burn, Radish, Strong
What we liked: The Concept. Although we tend to primarily visit makgeolli bars, the reason is because there are very few soju bars that offer a variety of quality products at a reasonable price. That’s not to say there isn’t a whole world of soju beyond the 2,000won bottle at the BBQ restaurant, as there quite a few decent products both established and emerging for the soju lover. However, most dedicated makgeolli bars either stock the top or the low end, not leaving much wiggle room for the middle range.
The best part about the Outdoor Lessons concept is that it is un-pretentious and relaxed, whilst still offering some interesting liquors. One Mama said ‘I have never been in this kind of environment before ~ I like it!’. The favorite bottle of the evening was surprisingly the Bokbunja, as most people at the table agreed they were not usually Bokbunja fans. Another Mama said ‘It’s not like the candy you usually get, I could drink quite a bit of this.’
What we disliked: The Lack of a Good Makgeolli Option. It’s not really the most fair criticism, seeing as Outdoor Lessons primarily stocks soju and cheongju. However there is makgeolli on the menu, and for those that are not ready to hit the hard stuff, having a good makgeolli on hand would keep everyone happy. From the bottles we tried, the one that did not win raving reviews from everyone at the meeting was the Arirang Hongju, with one Papa exclaiming ‘I still feel the burn’.
Recommendation: If you would like to have a relaxed and casual night with the opportunity to try a range of not so common Korean alcohols, Outdoor Lessons is your bet. It’s very large, has outdoor seating and can accommodate just about any size of group you have. It has an unpretentious atmosphere for kicking back and trying a lot of interesting booze, without the astronomical price tag.
Directions: Come out of Hongdae Station (Line 2) and walk straight. Cross the road when you see the Tom and Tom’s Cafe on the corner and turn left. Take your first right up the main clothing store streetand walk about a block, and turn left up a small hill (There used to be a Hello Kitty Cafe up this street). You should see the bar on the right hand side.
Have you been to Outdoor Lessons before? Tried more dishes or have more opinions? More questions? Leave us a comment below and tell us what you think!