The light at the end of that long dark summer tunnel is clear! And we have just the place to enjoy some awesome Korean alcohol and equally delicious food. Our meeting this Saturday will be to check out the rather new location of Wolhyang.
For those of you who might have followed our tastings in previous years, Wolhyang was one of the first makgeolli bars to offer higher quality brews in a more modern dining atmosphere. A name which has become synonymous with makgeolli bars, the previous locations in Hongdae and Seogyeo-dong were sadly closed, and now we have a new look and menu at the Yeoido location to peruse!
One of the special things about Wolhyang is that they offer variations of their own house brew, including their wonju (which for all the brewers out there that know is the un-watered down version 😉 )
So if you would like to check out the new Yeoido location of Wolhyang with us this Saturday, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up!
Thoughts: Located on the trendy street of Sangsu which is lined with cafes, brunch restaurants and cool bars, Booze Frog (our own affectionate translation of the name 술 개구리) is a recent addition to the scene of makgeolli bars. While some places offer a menu of ten or so brews, this place has a most impressive four page menu and scores of options to choose from. The atmosphere is intimate and lively, and if you’re lucky enough to get the one table by the terrace, you can people watch the trendsters below with your makgeolli cup in hand.
What we liked: The atmosphere. The interior has been designed like a Spanish villa, and it is a very popular place filled with imbibers. The menu being so extensive, they offer samplers which come out not in small shot glasses, but tall water glasses. If you’re not sure what you like, this is a good way to try different types without having to buy a full bottle. It’s also a great visual to come to the table, though we found it a little difficult to pour without spilling for each person. Mamas & Papas also liked a somewhat unusual aspect, the prawn crackers. It may just come out as free anjou, but multiple Mamas & Papas raved about them saying ‘I would come back just for these’.
What we disliked: The slow service. Taking into account they are a relatively new establishment, so keeping up with its popularity might mean still working out the kinks. We ordered makgeolli and the order was forgotten until they were reminded 15 minutes later. However the owner was apologetic and compensated with free bottles, and his efforts definitely made up for the service lapse. Mamas & Papas were also a little disappointed with the lack of craft makgeolli, as the only bottles listed on the menu were out of stock. The house three color jeon was a bit spicy to go well with the makgeolli, with one Mama commenting ‘It blows out the taste buds so you can’t taste the makgeolli’.
Recommendation: This is a good place for a casual makgeolli experience with a relaxed atmosphere and extensive selection. If you’re in the Hapjeong/Sangsu area and want a late afternoon brew, the open terrace and windows let in some nice light and open air. It’s also good if you want to sample a whole selection of makgeolli you perhaps have never tried before, the owner also speaks some English and can recommend you to order.
Directions: From Sangsu Station come out exit #1 and walk down the hill on the main road towards Hapjeong station. When you reach the carpark at the bottom entrance to hongdae area turn right, and at the next left you should see a CU on the corner. Turn left here and follow the street for about 3 blocks and then you should cross a 4 way street. The bar should be just on the right on the 2nd floor and it’s called Sool Frog (술 개구리)
Note: It’s also accessible from Hapjeong station at about the same distance
Thoughts: Right in the middle of Hongdae: the thriving, bustling beating heart of Seoul’s nightlife, where students, tourists, party lovers, musicians and artists all collide in a seemingly endless network of streets crammed with bars, restaurants, clubs and cafes, you will find this diamond in the rough. Olsoo, with it’s attention to quality and careful selection of Korean traditional alcohol feels somewhat out of place among the cheap barbeque restaurants, soju bars, and rowdy old fashioned makgeolli bars that fill the neighboring area right next to the Hongdae subway station.
The word Olsoo (얼쑤) is the one of the calls of encouragement and emphasis commonly given by the percussionist to solo singer during Korea’s ancient Pansori musicals and translates, perhaps somewhat crudely as “Yah Hoo”. Olsoo is owned and managed by the bar’s chef, who’s passion is not only in modern reflections of Korea’s cuisine, but also in it’s wide offerings in the field of traditional liquor. His staff also share his enthusiasm for makgeolli, cheongju and well crafted soju and are more than happy to offer recommendations and suggestions on what you may like to drink.
JahuiHyang Nabi 자희향 나비 (chalky, mild, floral, aromatic,silky)
Do Mun Daejak 도문대작 (Pungent, nice finish, mild/pleasant bitterness,slightly higher alcohol content)
What we liked: The Menu. A bit of a cop out to mention the menu, however it has such a delicious selection of food on offer that it wouldn’t be fair to leave it off the recommendation. The selection of makgeolli and cheongju on offer here is also very good, with a large number of premium bottles as well as some more interesting and less common varieties of takju/table makgeolli, the selection deserves an honorable mention. We were very happy with the direction this bar has taken in terms of its well chosen, predominantly non-aspartame bottle choices. Mamas & Papas also were quite satisfied with the quality of food, the fried oysters being a particular hit with the general comment being simply ‘Yummy!!’ (Note: Oysters are a seasonal menu found mostly from September to December/January)
What we disliked: The Price. Well, in hongdae, you would be forgiven for thinking that most places in this area offer cheap and cheerful drinks, with the target demographic being students and party goers. However if that is what you are looking for then this place is perhaps not for you. Although nothing on the menu is unreasonable, it is certainly more expensive than other makgeolli bars that are in the vicinity of Olsoo. You are certainly paying for the quality of the produce and drinks you are receiving here though, and we are more than happy to recommend it.
Recommendation: A great place for a nice meal and a chat with a few friends who either are makgeolli lovers, or who want to get into the world of premium makgeolli. If you have the budget, you will be able to sample and compare most of the higher end makgeolli that is available in Seoul; paired with some very tasty dishes as well. It can sometimes get a little rowdy, as it does appear that the also sell common soju as well which is still popular with the local clientele and the company dinner customers as well. However, the atmosphere is fun and it is certainly a good place to start you night in the most happening place in the city.
Directions: Come out exit 8 of Hongdae Station and walk straight. You will reach a roundabout, and Olsoo is on the opposite side of the street, on the second floor. Look for a staircase and a white sign with black writing that says 얼쑤.
It’s a brand new year, and we feel like celebrating! The team here at MMPK have big plans for the makgeolli industry this year, and we thought, what better way to kick it all off than with a party? We sat down with the team at Muldwinda & Susubori Academy to put together a shindig of deliciousness.
Date: Saturday, January 24th
Time: 7:30 till late
Cost: 40,000won prepaid (45,000won at the door)
Unlimited Makgeolli (Hand Picked by MMPK)
We sat down with our partners at Muldwinda and have selected a range of makgeolli that we personally and other members in our community have enjoyed. In addition, all the brews we have selected are aspartame free 🙂
A Bottle of Homebrew
Myself and Papa Dan have been beavering away in Susubori Academy, brewing up a special makgeolli to give to each guest.
Free Premium Tasting
We have invited a range of premium brewers to showcase their Takju, and there will be a free tasting at the event. If you like what you taste, you are also welcome to purchase any of the brew on offer.
Secret Brew Tasting Competition
We thought it might be a bit of fun to test those taste buds! In addition to the bottle of homebrew, we also brewed up a special taster with three secret ingredients. Upon arrival, you can taste and guess what those three ingredients are for the chance to win a prize.
No good having a night of makgeolli without delicious food! To that end, there will be a buffet of all sorts delicious goods to pair with the brews.
Meet The Brewers
For those out there who have always wanted to know the face behind that premium makgeolli, we have invited some members from the brewing community to attend. You will have the opportunity to meet and taste their brews, and ask any burning questions you’ve always had.
We are cooking up some activities with some pretty cool prizes. We don’t want to give away all our secrets, so come join us to find out 🙂
If you or anyone you know would like to join us in celebrating the start of what we hope will be a very prosperous year in the makgeolli industry, send us an email with the full name and contact number of those attending, and we will give payment details.
We look forward to celebrating with you, one and and all, to get an amazing year started with delicious makgeolli and good friends 🙂
Thoughts: Damotori is the staple makgeolli bar for the Haebangcheon and surrounding neighborhood. It has a cozy and dark atmosphere, regularly filled with a mix of customers who both know their favorite and those that are looking to find a favorite.
What We Liked: The food. We have visited Damotori on a variety of occasions, and have ordered different dishes each time. The food rarely disappoints and is a solid accompaniment to the makgeolli. We also enjoyed being able to discuss makgeolli with the manager, so if you have any questions or need advice, he is an approachable person.
What We Didn’t Like: The Premium is hidden. Like most makgeolli bars that have extensive menus, Damotori does carry some premium makgeolli. However this is not advertised in the main menu. The menu itself has great information, including maps and tidbits of information about where it comes from, but if you are hankering for a bit of Jahuihyang, make sure you ask if he has some behind the counter.
Recommendation: If you find yourself in the Haebangcheon neighbourhood and want makgeolli, this is the best place you can go to get it. It is a good place for some casual conversation or small groups of friends that want some decent Korean food and drinks.
How to Get There: Come out of the Noksapyeong Station Haebangcheon Exit and walk down the hill parallel to the US Army base. Once you reach the kimchi pots, turn left and walk up the hill towards Haebangcheon. You will see a street veer off on your left and on the corner is Bonny’s Pizza, Damotori is just next door.
Reviewed by: Mamas & Papas on August 16th, 2014Thoughts: 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.
Tofu Steak 두부스테이크 ***** 5 Stars (Succulent, Sauted Veggies, Herbs!! (in Korean food!?),Aromatic)
Squid 오징어 *** 3.5 Stars (Fresh, Clean, Juicey, vibrant) 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).Makgeolli: Deoksan 덕산*** 3 Stars – Pungent aroma, balance of dry/sweet, vanilla notes
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!
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.
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!
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: Makgeolli Mamas and Papas on 12th April, 2014
Thoughts: Down the winding alleyway near Gyeongbukgung station, passing an intersting mix of traditional market stores and much newer craft beer houses and restruants, you will find the rather unassuming front entrance of Jeondae Gamdaek. What lies inside is a very beautiful, open hanook type complex. Decorated with plants, water pools containing fish in the open central courtyard, and all around busy tables attesting to this place’s recent surge in popularity. The place has a distinctly traditional feel and a great atmosphere that would be suitable for a small gathering or a slightly larger group – if you reserve in advance.
What M&P Liked: The venue. The location is situated in what seems to be a neigbourhood in flux between the old and the new. For now it is a marvelous blend of what seoul was, and what it is becoming. The classic almost bucolic feel of the interior is a beautiful compliment to this neighbourhood and is certainly something that can be enjoyed by all who visit. The food and makgeolli selection were good, but there was nothing particularly unique that stood out on our visit.
What M&P Disliked: The Service. While the service was by no means bad, or unattentive, there were a couple of things which bothered us. The pace of service was quite good considering how busy the restaurant was on the night of our visit. However some of the food items we ordered which were unavailable, were replaced with other dishes. None-the-less this faux-pas was compensated for in the typical Korean style with some additional complimentary dishes .
Recommendations: This is a great place to come to soak in the atmosphere and talk in the open courtyard over a reasonable selection of makgeolli and your standard makgeolli house fare. Visitors would be well advised to look at the menu closely, as there is a secret additional book inside at the back which reveals a more thorough makgeolli list than is present in the menu proper.
How do I get there?
Come out of Gyeongbukgung Station (Line 3) exit 2, and walk to the corner where there should be a Paris Baguette. Turn left here (on the same side of the road as PB) and walk straight. You will pass two right turns, and before you get to the third right, the bar should be on your right. The entrance is quite small and is easy to miss, so take your time to thoroughly check the signs.
Address: Seoul, Jongro-gu, Jahamunro 1 nagil 7-17.(서울특별시 종로구 자하문로1나길 7-17)
Mamas & Papas came together to learn how to make a Chuseok staple: Jeon! We had expert instruction from the head chef at Muldwinda, who patiently coached us into making the perfect Jeon. We then successfully demolished all our jeon with plenty of delicious makgeolli. We are as ever grateful for the awesome hospitality we always receive when at Muldwinda. Keep your eyes open for more events like this in the future 🙂
Thoughts: Makgeolli Salon is a loud and bustling location which becomes packed with people waiting by 9pm. The interior is dark but stylish, with a separate outdoor patio area with long tables. It has more of a nightlife atmosphere than other makgeolli bars we have tried, but with an extensive menu of quality makgeollis. There is a second location of Makgeolli Salong in Sinchon, you can read our review here.
Makgeolli Salon is a place for a lively night out. Situated right opposite the park in Hongdae, they have a casual atmosphere and a great selection of makgeolli. They also offer an ‘all you can drink’ special for 5,000won, though this is limited to the iconic green bottle ‘Seoul Makgeolli’.
What Mamas & Papas liked: The Boksoondoga Makgeolli. It was the first time any of us had tried this handmade premium makgeolli, and we were pleasantly surprised. One Papa called it ‘Flawless victory!’ and ‘immersed in authenticity’. Mamas & Papas also really enjoyed the bulgogi jeon, with one mama reporting ‘the meat is so tender!’.
What Mamas & Papas didn’t like: The corn. Unfortunately, in true Korean style, every jeon came out with canned corn in it. The food was somewhat standard, and the little golden kernels did disappoint. Mamas & papas were also not sold on the cheese jeon, with one mama saying it was ‘not delicious and a bad wannabe pizza’.
Recommendation: Makgeolli Salon is a good place for an upbeat night in one of the liveliest parts of hongdae. It has a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere, but still provides top quality fresh makgeolli. If you’re looking for fun night out in the middle of one of the busiest nightlife districts, this place will do it.
How to get there:Walk up from Hongik University Station exit 9 and head towards the University front gate. Turn right when you hit the park and you will see a Smoothie King. There is a small alley next to this building and Makgeolli Salong is just at the end of it.
Address: 346-2, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seou Map here
Phone Number: 02 324 1518
Have you been to Makgeolli Salong before? Tried more dishes or have more opinions? More questions? Leave us a comment below and tell us what you think!