Korean Traditional Alcohol Tours

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 🙂

Korean Traditional Alcohol Tours Website

The Masters Tour

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

Clear Booze (맑은 술)

Name: Clear Booze (맑은 술)

Location: Jongno 5 ga (

Reviewed by: Mamas and Papas on April 30th 2016

Group SHot

Thoughts: Tucked away in one of the small alleys of the super trendy area of Yeonnam-dong, this is a makgeolli bar with a certain kind of style.  The owner is passionate about carrying a variety of makgeolli that don’t contain any artificial sweetners, and his menu has a distinct seafood theme.  A cosy, no-frills interior with dark lighting makes for a great shelter from the ever-popular streets of Yeonnam.

Location

Service: **** 4 Stars

Style: **** 3 Stars

Ambience: **** 3 Stars

Overall: **** 3.5 Stars

The Deonjang Buchoo Jeon was a hit
The Deonjang Buchoo Jeon was a hit
The whole grilled squid
The whole grilled squid
Tuna Jeon
Tuna Jeon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food

Kimchi Jeon 묵은 김치전 4 stars (clean, well seasoned, balanced)

Whole Grilled Squid 오징어 통구의 3.5 stars (textured, unique, for seafood lovers)

Deonjang Buchu Jeon 된장 부추전  5 stars (complex, tasty, satisfying)

Potato Jeon 감자 번 4.5 stars (spongy, flavorful, comfort food)

Haechang Makgeolli
Haechang Makgeolli
Seonho Makgeolli
Seonho Makgeolli

 

 

 

 

 

A sample given as a welcome drink
A sample given as a welcome drink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Makgeolli

Haechang 해창 막걸리                                3*** (dry, refreshing, bland, watery)

Gotaek Sticky Rice 고택찹쌀 생주          4**** (strong, sweet, fruity, wine-like)

Seon Ho 선호 막걸리                                   3*** (flavorful, light texture, slightly sour)

Domun Daejak 도문 대작 막걸리             4***** (silky, strong, earthy, boozy)

Cheong Yangju 청량주 막걸리                  3*** (Clean, dry, light, slightly acidic)

(Note:  Sweetener-free)

Dae Dae Po 대대포                                      3*** (meady, light, sweet, smooth)

 

lauren cheers

What we liked: The Service.  The owner of this bar is very much a makgeolli lover himself, and he takes pride in his stock of sweetener free makgeolli.  Upon arrival, we were served a special sample of brew he sourced directly from the brewery, and our Mamas & Papas were all impressed right off the bat.  After sharing our own thoughts on sweeteners, he gave us a tasting of a brew that he specifically asked the brewery to give him without sweeteners (see the above Cheong Yangju).  The favorite food of the evening was the Deonjang Buchoo Jeon, with one Mama exclaiming ‘It’s a completely new flavor for me!’

Reporter and bowl

What we disliked: The food variety.  Whilst all the food we had was well received and enjoyed, some commented on the lack of options for those not wanting seafood.  Most of the options on the menu are seafood based, so if you are not a fan or are looking for other meats you may be left a little peckish.

Happy Chatters

Recommendation: In a neighborhood fast becoming one of the trendiest hot-spots in Seoul, this bar offers something straight up and casual.  It’s a great place for people who enjoy unsweetened makgeolli and some hearty seafood fare at good prices.


ExteriorDirections: Come out of Hongik University Station exit 3 and walk straight.  As you hit a small intersecting street, turn right and follow the road.  Take the third alley on your right and you will see a Chinese restaurant up top, and the makgeolli bar is in the basement   서울 마포구 동교로34길 12.

Address: 서울 마포구 동교로34길 12.

Phone Number: 02-323-4633

Map: Here

 

 

Have you visited Hidden Alley? 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

Ipari (이파리)

Name: Ipari (이파리)

Location: Hongdae/Yeonhuidong

Reviewed by: Mamas&Papas on July 11th.

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The long bar allows for individual seating and conversation with the knowledgable  staff.

Thoughts: Ipari is tucked away neatly up on the second floor of a rather unassuming building by the main road that runs through the up and coming Yeonnam neighbourhood about 15 mins walk from Hongdae station.  Upon entering the establishment one of the first things you will notice is the modern square bar in the middle of the main room, which itself is outlined in clean yet traditional wooden decor; adorned with ornate soju bottles.

The bar is usually spotted with couples and individuals enjoying Makgeolli and Soju, while in the back there is more typical restaurant seating and  private rooms for groups to have more secluded dinner meetings. The layout of the bar allows one to come alone and enjoy a drink of Korean liquor and not feel awkward by taking up a whole table. Something is quite hard to come by in Korean bars and restaurants, where most meals and drinks are consumed by groups.

The food and drinks menus here are very good, with a wide variety of well made, tasty Korean dishes and plenty of good makgeolli to pair with them.

Location

Service: **** 4 Stars

Style: *** 3.5 Stars

Ambience:  *** 3 Stars

Overall: *** 3.5 Stars

Recommended Food:

Fish Jeon: (soft, light, juicy, delicious)**** 4 stars

Bulgogi Pork: (tender, well seasoned, mild spice, rich) **** 4 stars

Rice Porridge (side dish): (savoury, thick, hearty) **** 4 stars

Marinated eggs (side dish):(morish, smokey, delicious)**** 4stars

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The wonderfully dry Ah Hwang Ju from Mi-in Brewery.

Recommended Korean Liquor:

Geumjeong San Makgeolli:(Sweet & Sour, tangy, nuruky,thick) *** 3 stars

Neurinmaul:(Smooth, Sweet, Light, Clean) *** 3.5stars

Songmyungseop: (Hardcore, Yoghurty , sour, dry) *** 3.5 stars

Sam Yang Choon: (Light, strong, tart, dry) **** 4 stars

Ah Hwang Ju: (Very dry, yeasty, strong, bold) **** 4 stars

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What we liked: The Service. The staff at Ipari are incredibly friendly, polite and helpful. One of our guests stated: “The service was fantastic. Respectful to all regardless of language ability”. They have a solid knowledge of their food  and a passion for the makgeolli they serve. They are happy to make recommendations based on palate or food pairings.

What we disliked: The Price. The food menu is a little higher than you would find in your average bar, however you do get what you pay for. Ipari is “stylish in a cool yet unpretentious  way” and the quality of the Korean dishes that they serve is undoubtedly very good. It is a rare place in which you find side dishes that are as good as main courses, and our guests were extremely satisfied with the marinated eggs and the rice porridge that was served as an entree. The portions are not very large however and if you are hungry you may want to order several dishes.

Iparipeople
Happy Mamas & Papas not posing for the camera at all…

Recommendation: Come here with a larger group or on your own, take a table or a seat at the bar and ask the knowledgeable staff for their recommendation. They have plenty of standard makgeolli and a growing number of premium bottles too. They also stock quality sojus like the aged Ilpoom from HiteJinro, among various others.

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How to get there: This place is a good 15 minute walk from Hongdae station through to a somewhat suburban part of the neighborhood.  Come out of Hongdae Station exit 3 and walk straight.  When you come to the main intersection, turn right and follow the road as it curves up into the suburban part of Yeonnam-dong.  You will pass numerous Chinese restaurants along this road, and you will come to a big intersection, but keep walking straight through it.  When you come to the overhead bridges, keep walking and just after you pass the second bridge, the bar is on your right.  There is a Hyundai Motor dealers directly across the road.  The bar has very little signage, and is on the second floor.

Address:  Seoul, Seodaemun-gu, Yeonhuidong 193-16 2nd floor  (서울특별시 서대문구 연희동 193-16 2층)

Map: Here

Contact: 010-5188-7766

Have you visited Ipari? Why not tell us about your experience in the comments, or post in our Facebook community!

2015 Jarasum Makgeolli Festival – Wrap up

Jipyeong with Fifties Girls

As November oh so quickly rolls in, we say goodbye to yet another Makgeolli Festival, and this one was truly something special.  As many may know, the last Thursday of every October is designated as ‘Makgeolli Day’.  NurukEvery year from this day, and following through the whole weekend, you can always expect some kind of celebration in the name of our favorite rice brew.   In previous years we have seen various different festivals in Seoul, but this year marks the first event outside the capital, and sets a precedent for what may be a regular fixture on the ‘must-do’ calendar.

Favorite Fish Man

                                                        Jarasum (Jara Island) has been made famous by the annual Jazz festival, which brings exceptional artists from around the globe for a weekend of good music and outdoor fun.

This past weekend marked the inaugural Jarasum Makgeolli Festival, which set its sights on bringing together not just all the makgeolli from around the nation, but also bringing food pairings from makgeolli bars and local producers.

We were especially privileged to taste the fish from this master (pictured right), who grills some of the best Godingeo (고딩어) ever tasted.  He took festival friendliness to a new level, bringing our hungry Happy Hour guests some fresh grilled fish.  Look out for this guy next time, he knows what he’s doing 🙂

As for MMPK, we had a lot of work to do!

Dan Julz InstructingWe were so excited to have the opportunity to bring all the things that we have learned to a festival, bringing tastings galore.  For anyone who might have attended one of our meetings or tours, they know that we are passionate about supporting the smaller brewers on the market, and this was a chance to bring those hardworking brewers to the fore!  We offered Artisan Tasting Sessions, with a lineup curated to show the best of what is on offer in bars around Seoul.  All brews were aspartame free and had a variety of flavor profiles that appealed to a range of palates.  The best part about the sessions?  Being able to tell the stories behind every brew, and hearing the equally varied feedback on from our eager tasters.   Below is this year’s MMPK Artisan Tasting Lineup:

Artisan Tasting - CheonbihyangArtisan Tasting - Domun Daejak


 

 

 

 

 

 

Artisan Tasting - Gotaek Saengju

Artisan Tasting - Jahuihyang

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artisan Tasting - Mangangae Bichindal

Artisan Tasting - Samyangchoon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Llwy Julz Brewers TastingBut tasting wasn’t limited to just the Artisans, the expat brewing community also brought their entries for the fourth annual Susubori Academy Expat Makgeolli Brewing Contest.  For the past four years, expats in the makgeolli brewing community have been concocting their own special brews to compete for the title.  Last year Mark Salinas took the number one spot with a brew incorporating water and mugwart brought laboriously from a hike to Bukhansan (Bukhan Mountain).

 

 

Tasting Table

This year included a diverse and creative selection, with infusions and recipe experimentation the likes of which we had yet seen.  During the festival, whomever came to the booth could taste from the ten entrants and vote for their favorite.  The winners are yet to be announced, but we will be sure to update as soon as they come through!

Brewing Class MixingIf that wasn’t all, MMPK also teamed up with Makgeolli Makers & Susubori Academy to offer free Introduction to Brewing Makgeolli Classes.  Twice a day, both on Saturday and Sunday, visitors could get their basic grounding in the world of makgeolli brewing and take home their very own brew.

Saturday Morning Class Montage

 

And then there was the festival itself!

Rock Stage

The main tent in the middle of grounds was continually abuzz with musical performances and food stalls, getting particularly rowdy when it hit after 8pm 🙂  And as the days dawned with crisp air (albeit cold enough for eyebrow-sicles in the very wee hours), with blue skies and mountains as a backdrop, it was hard not to be in a good mood.  Tents lined up surrounding the main tent, giving out samples of their wares as well as exhibitions of Korea’s finest representations of alcohol.

3 makgeolli bottles I Makgeolli U

As each day came to a close, the MMPK tent went into Happy Hour mode.  With endless brews and endless meat on hand, crew and visitors ate and drank the night away under the clear, star filled sky until their toes were numb.

After all the preparation, anticipation and running of the event, there is just one thing that sticks in our minds as the most memorable.  The people of our community are what make these festivals not just possible, but also joyful and just a rollicking good time.   We are nothing if not the people who support us, and that was more than evident this past weekend.  So we would like to give a heartfelt ~ Thank You ~ to our Brewers, Volunteers, and Supporters (yes, you all get capitals 😉 ) because without you, we would would never have been able to have such an awesome event.

Hungover Chat

We can’t wait till next year for the next installment of the Jarasum Makgeolli Festival 🙂

Until then Mamas & Papas 🙂

 

Baesangmyeon Neurin Maeul Brewery Tour – September 6th

Sansawon Poster 3-01

Date: Sunday, September 6th.

Time: 9am – 6.30pm

Place: Pocheon City, Gyeonggido.

What:  Transportation, Lecture, Guided Tour, Lunch, Unlimited Tastings

Reservations: Here.

Enquiries: mmpkorea@gmail.com

You may have heard us waxing lyrical over the last couple of years about a Makgeolli called Neurin Maeul. It’s certainly been a favourite of ours and has proven to be a hit with many of you out there in the community. If you have tried this brew and loved it, or if you would like to taste it in it’s own environment (in the wild, so to speak), then what better way than to spend an easy Sunday at the beginning of Fall at one of the most scenically beautiful, well designed breweries in the country: the Sansawon Brewery and Museum owned by Baesangmyun. (Their site is here.)

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Sansawon is an enchanting place where traditional Korean architecture, and brewing practices are envisioned and realized with precision and a modern aesthetic. This may not be the only place where one can see brewing as it was carried out in years gone by, but it is certainly the only place of it’s size, scale and attention to detail. See the past, present and future of the makgeolli industry unfold before your very eyes.

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In the spring we were privileged to lead the first English language tour of the Sansawon brewery in the sleepy little town of Pocheon to our esteemed guests the Royal Asiatic Society Korea, and now we would like to open this day tour to the public starting in September.

About Baesangmyun

Baesangmyeon Brewery could arguably be called Korea’s first craft makgeolli brewery. With generations of history and tradition, they continue a commitment to creating quality products with attention to detail and a deep understanding of brewing principles. In an industry that has largely been characterized by the use of artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, Baesangmyeon has proven that with the right recipe, care and patience, a makgeolli brew can be produced that does not need additives. More than just makgeolli, Baesangmyeon is also exploring lost traditions by producing a range of inspired sojus and alcohols.

The Tour

We will leave Seoul at 9am, arriving at the brewery in Pocheon roughly 10:30am. We will begin with a tour of the museum which showcases a variety of artifacts from traditional brewing methods. We will explore the ways in which the Korean traditional alcohol industry has developed and changed, and learn about the history of Baesangmyeon Brewery. After touring the museum, we will then proceed to the classroom where we will have a presentation on how various traditional alcohols are made.

This will be followed by a guided tasting of a range of Baesangmyeon’s products where we will have the opportunity to contrast and compare different styles, flavors and techniques. We will then take a break for a picnic lunch outside in the beautiful grounds of Sansawon.

After lunch, we will begin our tour of the grounds. We will walk through the Hangari gallery where different alcohols are currently being aged, and learn about the machinery used over the years. After learning about the various aspects of the brewery, we will then have a final tasting of Baesangmyeon’s flagship makgeolli ‘Neurin Maeul’ in the specially designed outdoor bar, where the sweet fragrance of decades old alcohol catches the breeze as it blossoms from inside the large hangaris.

Finally you’ll have the chance to make any purchases you would like from the Brewery store before we  board the bus and we return to Seoul.

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How to Sign up

Tickets for the trip are on sale for 75,000KRW and are all inclusive of everything above. If you would like to make your reservation please fill out this form and let us know!

Come welcome the Fall at this beautiful spot, with good company and great craft booze.

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Were you on the R.A.S.K tour? Or have you visited this brewery before? We would to hear about your experience!! Drop us a line in the comments section!

The Manjok (The 만족)

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A happy little group of Mamas & Papas, Feelin’ That Manjok

Name: The Manjok (만족) *translates as ‘The Satisfaction

Location: Near the entrance to Hongik University.

Reviewed by:  Mamas & Papas August 1st

Thoughts: Anyone visiting the area around Hongik university will quickly become aware that there is no shortage of places to choose from for food and drink. Whatever your fancy, there are a dozen places that will provide it for you. Makgeolli is of course no exception. Typically what’s been offer has catered for the predominant student demographic. Places such as Hongdaepo, Hawaiian Makgeolli and countless other nameless places, selling “house makgeolli” for cheap, fun times. Although more recently some more upmarket places have appeared in the area, including the fantastic Olsoo.

Not until the opening of The Manjok in the area, has there been a restaurant that has quality brews at a reasonable price. The owner is one of the brewers for 좋은술 (Joeun Sool), who are one of the most prominent premium makgeolli producers in the country. Their products include 천비향 탁주 (cheonbihyang takju) and 약주. The Manjok serves this brewery’s usual premium fare, as well as a variety of other craft brews that 좋은술 produces… great things….things that we had never seen. We were excited.

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Location

Service: ***** 5 Stars

Style: *** 3 Stars

Ambience:  **** 4 Stars

Overall: **** 4.5 Stars

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Recommended Food:

Baked Pork (보쌈): **** 4 Stars ~ Fatty, Juicy, Plentiful, Pairs well with Ihwaju.

Gorgonzola Pizza: *** 3 Stars ~ Thin, Doughy Base, Sweet Honey Side, Light.

Spicy Cheese Ddeok Bosam (매운치즈떡보쌈) **** 4 Stars ~ Glorious, Huge, Comfort Food, Succulent

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Recommended Makgeolli:

Ihwaju (이화주 5양주) **** 4 Stars ~ Sour aromatics, Warm, Dusky, Sediment.

Ihwaju (이화주 막걸리) **** 4 Stars ~ Sweet, Nuruk heavy, Slight Acidity, Subtle balance.

AhwangJu Cheongju (아황주 청주) *** 3.5 Stars ~ Bitey, Sweet & Sour, Floral, Caramel finish.

GongGam Sweet Cheongju (공감 Sweet 청주) *** 3 Stars ~ Smooth, Tart finish, Boozey, Nutty.

Cheonbi Hyang Takju (천비향 탁주) **** 4 Stars ~ Thick, Robust, Liqueur, Chalky.

Cheonbi Hyang Makgeolli (천비향 막걸리) **** 4 Stars ~ Light, Warm, Balanced, Clean.

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What we liked: The Brews. Usually when we get together with our Mamas & Papas to try things out we start at the cheapest side of the menu, and try to sample our way up towards the really awesome items. However, we were (pleasantly) denied that chance. The owner was so keen for us to try the premium side of menu that he recommended us a large number of things that we hadn’t tried before. The majority of these brews do come from 좋은술, however there are varieties that as far as we know can’t be found in other spots, and they are priced much cheaper than can be found in other bars. If you’re not on your premium makgeolli game however, there are still a large number of regular takjus and makgeolli blends/cocktails to be enjoyed as well. (When we visited, the most prominent drink being consumed by patrons was 장수 (Jangsu)… stick to what you know I guess. #sadface)

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An Ihwaju from 좋은술 that we tried for the first time!

What we disliked: Ice! At the time of our visit, a lot of the 천비향막걸리 was being stored in a refrigerator on the veranda of the restaurant, and although they were (fairly) cool, the manager insisted on blending the brews with crushed ice. Which though making them pleasantly cold, also made it a little difficult to drink. It seems a bit petty to pick on this however as they are still smoothing out the kinks in the newly opened venue. (We visited on their first weekend). We will update this section soon (we will definitely be visiting again)

Recommendation: We were elated to discover that The Manjok opens it’s doors at 11am. Even further elated to hear that they provide a lunch special. Our minds were blown when we told that this lunch only costs 5,900won. This makes it cheaper than most lunches you can find in the area, and with all that excellent makgeolli to pair it with I can imagine many afternoon workers arriving at the office with a spring in their step. This place also works well in the early evening, so feed and drink up before the rest of your Hongdae adventure.

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The fridges were very well stocked.

Directions: Facing Hongik University’s main entrance, turn left and walk a few moments, taking the first left just before the Starbucks. You will see a CU convinience store on the corner. The Manjok is in the building directly across from there on your left, on the second floor.

Address: 서울 마포구 서교동 344-6 칼리오페빌딩  2층 (Seoul Mapo-gu, Seogyo-dong 344-6, Kaliope Building 2F)

Phone: 010-4724-0009

Map: Here

Booze Frog (술 개구리)

Name: Booze Frog (술 개구리)

Location: Hapjeong / Sangsu

Reviewed by: Mamas and Papas on May 23rd 2015

Booze Frog Interior
The light in the late afternoon gives a nice vibe


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.

Booze frog sampler
There are a number of paddle samplers to try the extensive range

 

Location

Service: *** 3 Stars

Style: **** 4 Stars

Ambiance: **** 4 Stars

Overall: **** 4 Stars

Booze Frog Selection
The house herb makgeolli (left) is a mixture of different makgeollis with peppermint herbs and edible flowers

 

Recommended Food

Bacon Cheese Jeon 베이컨치즈전 2.5 stars (spongy, lacking in bacon, soft)

Booze Frog 3 Color Jeon 술개구리 삼색전 3 stars (greasy, overloaded, spicy)

Pork Stir-Fry 돼지볶음 3.5 stars (Textured, slightly spice, soy sauce, tasty)

special jeon
The three color Jeon (pork, radish, squid)

 

Recommended Makgeolli

Neurin Maeul 느린마을                              5 ***** (balanced, pleasant, drinkable, banana)

Gotaek Sticky Rice 고택찹쌀 막걸리         4**** (plum, pear, dry sherry, boozy)

Tiger Makgeolli 호랑이 막걸리                  4**** (pear, smooth, balanced, thick)

Songmyeongsub 성명섭                           3.5 ****1/2 (dry, thin, watery, a bit acidic)

Sa Mi Inju 사미인주                                    3*** (very sweet, fragrant, thin, apple essence)

Dae Dae Po 대대포                                     3*** (sparkling, banana, astringent, fragrant)

Herb Makgeolli 허브 막걸리                      3*** (minty, toothpaste, flavorful, weird)

Geumjeongsanseong 금정산성               2.5**1/2 (tangy, dry, light)

Ha Nam 하남                                              2.5**1/2 (melon, fruity, sweet)

Cheongsul 청슬                                         2.5**1/2 (milky, nutty, bubbly)

 

Herb mak

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’. 

Booze Frog terrace
The terrace table overlooks the trendy Sangsu street

 

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’.

Mamas&Papas before ordering
Some of our eager Mamas & Papas awaiting our first order

 

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.

 

 

Booze Frog OutisdieDirections: 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

Address: 서울 마포구 서교동 400-12

Phone Number: 02-322-1101

Map: Here

 

Have you visited Booze Frog? Is there anything we could have mentioned? What where your likes and dislikes? Tell us your story by commenting here or on our facebook page

Olsoo (얼쑤)

Name: Olsoo (얼쑤)

Location: Hongdae

Reviewed by: Mamas and Papas on January 10th 2015

Olsoo shelf
The artful interior design of Olsoo


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.

Olsoo Interiero
Customers enjoying the atmosphere

 

Location

Service: **** 4 Stars

Style: **** 4 Stars

Ambience: **** 4 Stars

Overall: **** 4 Stars

Olsoo soju
Plenty of exciting things on offer to try

 

Recommended Food

Fried Oysters 굴전 (Succulent, Fresh, Silky, Lightly battered)

Steamed Pork 오겹살찜 (Tender, beautifully cooked, light, well presented)

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Also worth trying, the Yukhye! (Raw beef with pear slices)

 

Recommended Makgeolli

Saminju 사미인주 (very sweet, bee’s honey, watery, crowd pleaser)

JahuiHyang Nabi 자희향 나비 (chalky, mild, floral, aromatic,silky)

Do Mun Daejak 도문대작 (Pungent, nice finish, mild/pleasant bitterness,slightly higher alcohol content)

Olsoo bottles
One papa commented on Domun Daejak ” good amount of fizz!” ~ some nice carbonation!

 

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)

Olsoo bottles
As well as a great selection of makgeolli, Olsoo also offers a number of top quality sojus.

 

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.


Olsoo outside

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.

Address: 서울특별시 마포구 서교동 331-18

Phone Number: 02-333-8897

Map: Here

 

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

Midam (미담) CLOSED DOWN

This location is now CLOSED as at January 2016

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Name: Midam (미담)

Location: Sadang

Reviewed by: Mamas & Papas on February 28th 2015

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Thoughts: Midam is an established Makgeolli brewery, that produces a decent premium makgeolli we have known about for a while now. Imagine our surprise when we found out that they have their own bar!? We couldn’t believe it had slipped under our radar, and we had absolutely no choice but to check it out. It’s very close to exit 14 of Sadang station but is a little tricky to find as it is (as a lot of the bars we review are) hidden away in an alley. The beautiful and distinctive font of the the signage is also a little bit tricky to read from afar ~ so be aware, if you’re looking for it, you may have missed it!

“Prompt service, bright and airy, the free flowing layout (with open sliding doors) made actually quite small space feel much larger”

~ A Happy Mama

IMG_0333 LOCATION                                   

Service:      * * * * *

Style:          * * * *

Ambience:  * * * *

OVERALL: **** 4 Stars

FOOD

Selected Pancakes (모든 전)                  * * *  (Light, greasy)

Bossam Pork and Octopus (보쌈숙회)  * * * *  (Fresh, Sweet, flavorful)

Fried Oysters (굴전)                                * * * * * (Fresh, Large, Light, Succulent) IMG_0318 IMG_0313 MAKGEOLLI: Song Myeong Sub(송명섭): * * * * (sour, dry, good accompaniment to savory foods)

Note:  Song Myeong Sub reflects the individual spirit of the brewer, and can be quite varied in it’s character depending on the season.   A great brew that can vary between sweet and thick, to thin and sour. As one regular makgeolli mama said at this meeting, “The taste seems to have changed from it’s usual palate… a bit watery, a bit bitter a bit dull”

Don’t let this put you off though ~ despite it’s changes, this is one of our absolute favorite, easily accessible makgeolli bottles.

Jeonju Makgeolli (전주막걸리) * * (Vanilla, saccharine, mild, light)

White Lotus: Snowy Makgeolli (하얀연꽃 막걸리) * * * (Sparkling, Sweet, Light, Medium Bodied)

Midam Takju (미담 탁주) * * * * (Earthy notes, chalky,sweet sticky rice taste)

Chapssal Saeng Ju (찹쌀생주) * * * * (Grassy, part dry, part sweet, boozy)

 Potato Cheongju (감자술) * * * (Strong potato taste, artificial cheese notes)

IMG_0314
A clear makgeolli? a cheongju? opinion is split.

Note: The Chapssal Saengju (pictured above) has been advertised as a clear makgeolli. However due to its lack of sediment, and it’s high alcohol percentage we suggest that it is actually a cheong-ju (a clear sake-like rice wine). Unfortunately, the terms makgeolli and/or Cheong-ju/Yak-ju are nowhere to be found on the bottle.

 

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The undeniable taste of potato… hmmmm

  What Mamas and Papas liked: The Service. The staff at Midam are lovely, helpful and very generous. We were waited on hand and foot by our waitress and the chef, who provided us with ample extra dishes at no extra charge. The makgeolli selection wasn’t terrific, however they were happy to find us some things that were not on the menu specifically, which turned out to be something rather tasty too! Seriously excellent staff. It had been a long time since we felt so welcomed during a meeting by our hosts.  Mamas & Papas also enjoyed the food, commenting “I felt like I was eating home food!”, and “I really liked this food, clean and neat!”. 

What Mamas and Papas disliked: The Selection. Most of the Makgeolli on offer here is aspartame sweetened, entry level tak-ju, again with one of the only dry options being Song Myeong Sub. There were a number of Cheongju bottles available for sale (Clear, sediment free rice wine) and they obviously provided their own Midam brand premium bottle, although there no other representatives from the top shelf makgeolli camp.  From the selection of cheongjus we tried, the least favorite was the potato liquor, with one mama not quite knowing how to put it into words commenting “strange…but interesting”.  

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To the last drop…

Recommendation: This is a good place to come and enjoy their rather tasty food alongside a fairly varied palate of drinks options. It seems to cater well to larger group sizes, and offer relatively private sections for your group to eat and drink in. The majority of their seating is floor based, especially at the large tables. If you don’t like to sit on the floor or are unable to for whatever reason, you should be alright at a seated table if your group is between 2 and 4, but more than that is not possible.

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Papa Dan’s comment:  For those customers willing to spend a larger amount of money, there are some excellent premium Soju bottles on offer. Including SeongMyungSeop’s Juk Lyeok Go (죽력고), which is a highly renowned drink in Korea, brewed by 4 generations of the master brewers family! It will set you back 120,000 at Midam.  They also serve Gam Hong Ro (감홍로) which is a strong soju infused with Asian medicinal herbs, and yields a cinnamon taste and aroma ~ this is one of MMPK’s favorites, however it is quite pricey at around 80,000 per bottle!

How to get there:  Come out of Sadang Station exit 14 and take your first left.  At the next street turn right, and then left again at the next street.  The bar should be on the corner just near then next street on your left.

Phone: 02-3474-0006

Address: 서울특별시 서초구 방배천로 10 동화빌딩

Map:  here

Have you been to Midam in Sadang? Was your experience comparable to ours? Tell us your loves and hates in the comments or post on our facebook page!