Helen’s Kitchen (헬렌스 키친)

Name: Helen’s Kitchen (헬렌스 키친)

Location: Samseong Dong

Reviewed by: Mamas & Papas on August 16th, 201420140816215621010 Thoughts: Helens kitchen is a genuine gem among the facades of glitz and money that are abound in Samseong dong. With many of Seoul high end hotels, the casino and the fantastic COEX center a stones throw away from Helen’s place you would be forgiven for missing it. However, it is absolutely worth taking the time to find! Helen’s fluent English articulates her passion for makgeolli,and her constantly changing drinks menu is indicative of a restaurant owner who lovingly curates the drinks she serves.

Location: Overall **** 4.5 Stars

Food:

20140816200344600Seafood Jeon 해물하전   **** 4 stars (Thick, fluffy, crunchy, Fresh)

Potato Jeon 감자전  ** 2.5 stars      (Soft, gooey, bland)

Tofu Steak 두부스테이크  ***** 5 Stars (Succulent, Sauted Veggies, Herbs!! (in Korean food!?),Aromatic)

Squid 오징어 *** 3.5 Stars  (Fresh, Clean, Juicey, vibrant)   20140816193323308 20140816193328708     Makgeolli Mamas & Papas Highly recommend the Tofu Steak. It is unusual to have herbs included in Korean cooking, however this dish is a unique fusion of east and west and an attractive alternative to Tofu and Kimchi (두부킴치). 20140816200334228 Makgeolli:  Deoksan 덕산 *** 3 Stars – Pungent aroma, balance of dry/sweet, vanilla notes

GeumJeongSan 금정산 **** 4 stars – sherbet tang, complex, thick,

Jahui Hyang 자희향 **** 4.5 stars – Floral, creamy, smooth, liqueur-like

Milyang Makgeolli 밀양막걸리 *** 3stars  – (personally sourced by Helen in Milyang, Gyeongsangnamdo) tart, light, clean, balanced

We were also lucky enough to be presented with a variety of Cheongju (청주), which is the clear sweet wine drink, which remains suspended when the sediment of freshly brewed makgeolli has settled to the bottom of the vessel. Helen presented us with some experimental cheongu from 복순도가 and from 밀양막걸리 which are currently not available for sale~~ delicious!! ~~ Don’t worry we will be providing more varied information about cheongju soon! 

Beoksundoga's experimental cheongju - An apple vinaigrette flavour!
Beoksundoga’s experimental cheongju – An apple vinaigrette flavour!

What M&P Liked: Helen. She has a very clear and vibrant passion for her line of work: personally travelling around the country to visit breweries and villages that sell bottles which are generally unavailable in Seoul. Whether she hears about them through word of mouth, or if they are just her personal favorites is something you can chat about when you meet her ~ She will tirelessly explain each of the brews she provides, their origins and will answer any questions you care to ask her. Her Makgeolli list is always changing, and she guarantees that everything she has in stock is freshly delivered and at it’s best.

20140816211205799
Helen describing one of the brews

What M&P Disliked: Aspartame. As you may know we do our best to steer away from makgeollies which contain Aspartame as an artificial sweetener. However, the majority of  varieties on the market in general do contain it. Helen’s selection is fantastic, however a lot of what she has are Aspartame brews. However, Helen is considering moving to a larger location in the same area and mentioned she will be stocking a lot more premium bottles in future (Most of which are Aspartame free!). We will keep in touch with Helen and will inform our jolly makgeolli loving friends when and to where she moves! 20140816211138110

   Address:  149-31 Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, 135-878

    Map: Here

Have you ever been to Helen’s kitchen? How was your experience? Leave a comment here or find us on our facebook or twitter

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MMPK Best 5 Makgeolli Bars of 2013

We had a very full year of exploring makgeolli bars all over Seoul last year, and we made some amazing discoveries.  There are a lot of factors that go into making a great makgeolli bar experience, and there is no shortage of different styles to enjoy.  We here at MMPK took a look back at the bars we reviewed in 2013, and came up with what we would consider the best 5 places to discover, learn and enjoy makgeolli.  Although some bars were reviewed a little earlier, we regularly returned to these in 2013, as we simply couldn’t stay away from them.

5 – Moomyeong Jip (Sangsu) 무명집 Interior It’s hard to go past the bar where we had our first official MMPK meeting.  It had been on our radar before we had even started exploring the world of makgeolli, and for good reason.  The big draw card of Moomyeong Jip is the balance of all elements.  The atmosphere is relaxed, comfortable and modern, the food is delicious, and the makgeolli selection is extensive.  We have made many trips back here when looking for a casual bowl with friends, and we will sure to be back many times in the future.

How to get there: Go to Sangsu (상수) station on line 6 and take exit 3.  As soon as you come out of the station turn right and go down the hill.  You will see 무명집 on the left, on the 2ndfloor.

Address:  서울특별시 마포구 상수동 329- 7번지 2층 To see our first review of Moomyeong Jip, check here

4.  Tricycle (Hapjeong) Tricycle Bossam One of our favourite makgeolli experiences was at this bar, which truly takes pride in both the makgeolli and food.  All Mamas  & Papas were impressed by each dish that we tried, and there were numerous makgeollis on the menu that are difficult to find at just any bar.  The highlight of the bar was the manager, who took care to select a range of different makgeollis for us to try, arranging them in an appropriate tasting order.   It might be a little pricier than your average makgeolli bar, but then again it’s just not average.

How to get there: Go to Hapjeong station and come out exit 8.  Make a quick U-turn and you will see a construction walkway.  Walk through this and follow the hill down for about 10 minutes.  Tricycle is tucked away on the left hand side of the road, keep an eye out for their sign.

Address: 서울특별시 마포구 합정동 426-1 To see our review of Triycle, click here.

3.  Makgeolli School (Isu) Paul with bottle We often find new bars by recommendations from others, and that was just how we found Makgeolli School.  This tiny little bar was just too small for a regular MMPK meeting, so instead we approached the manager to have a special tasting with MMPK staff and regulars.   We were still learning so much about the makgeolli scene, and we were treated to an eye-opening array of various tastes, ingredients and regional makgeollis.  It cannot be denied that Makgeolli School is always well stocked with the usual suspects (and some of the not so usual) and it has some of the most comforting anjou we have experienced.  Make sure you try the Ojing-oh Soondae, you won’t be disappointed!

How to Get There:  Come out of Isu station (line 7 & 4) exit 10.  Walk straight for a bit and take your first right.  Walk down this street until you come to Makgeolli School ( 막걸리 학교,) a tiny little bar on the right.

Address:   144-16 Sadang-dong, Dongjak-gu, Seoul

To see a write up of our experiences at Makgeolli School, click here.

2.  Story of the Blue Star (Insadong) blue star Not every makgeolli experience is all about the selection available, sometimes you just want a big kettle with some good, simple anjou.  What better place to enjoy that kettle than inside a cozy, traditional hanok?  Story of the Blue Star is tucked away in a small alley at the top the Insadong main street, and it’s a place where you can settle in and forget about the rest of the world.  There is just one kind of makgeolli on offer, though there are variations by adding certain flavor powders.  Although that makgeolli contains some aspartame (which we here at MMPK are definitely not fans of), the anjou is organic and fresh, and they pair together delicously.   If you are looking for a traditional makgeolli experience, we regularly point people in the direction of the Blue Star.

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!

Address:  서울 종로구 관훈동 118-15 To read our review of Story of the Blue Star, click here.

1.  Muldwinda (Chungjeongno) 2012-11-05 22.18.06-1 There is one bar in Seoul that is committed to providing not just the best possible kinds of makgeolli, but also the best of all kinds of Korean traditonal liqour.  Muldwinda is a place where you can experience small brewery makgeollis that you cannot find anywhere else in Seoul, including a whole new world of cheongju and premium soju.  What makes Muldwinda the premier makgeolli bar, is its true belief in supporting good product and the brewers behind it.  It is connected with (and next door to) Susubori Academy, which is an Academy for learning to brew all kinds of Korean traditional alcohol.   It is stylish, relaxed, and a home for all those who want to discover the emerging market of truly delicious brews.

How to get there: Go to Chungjeongno station (line 2 & 5) and take exit 7.  Turn right immediately and follow the road for about 7-10 minutes.  It’s a quiet street, so you might feel like you are going the wrong way, untilyou will see a shining white building across the street with lights and windows…this is Muldwinda.

Address: 충정로3가 3-12 (경기대로 43) To read our very first review of Muldwinda, click here.  (Note:  This review was in 2012, and since then many new, small brewery makgeollis have become available.  We will be profiling these makgeollis seperately soon)

Makgeolli Cocktail File – Cherry Mak & Tonic

And that’s exactly what it is!  When browsing through the fresh food section of the supermarket, we noticed the first fresh cherries on the shelves.  So we thought, why not chop them up and put them in a makgeolli cocktail?  The result was a surprisingly delicious treat!  The bitter sweetness of the fresh cherries mixed so well with the sour makgeolli, and the tonic just gave it that edge.   After giving it a good pulse in the blender with some ice, a nice foamy head topped off a pretty awesome cocktail.

Cherry Mak & Tonic

Ingredients:

1 cup of Baedari (배다리) Makgeolli

1 handful of fresh cherries chopped

A splash of tonic water

A few ice cubes

Method:

Pour the makgeolli into the blender with the chopped cherries.  Give it a pulse first and taste for sweetness, adding more cherries if needed.  Add the splash of tonic with the ice cubes and give it another pulse.  Pour into a chilled glass and enjoy!

Note:  The kind of makgeolli will change the flavor of your cocktail.  For this recipe we used a thicker, more sour makgeolli to pair with the bitter sweet cherries.

Have you tried the Cherry Mak & Tonic?  Had different results?  Comment below and tell us what you think!