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 email@example.com to sign up!
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.
We just updated about a Makgeolli and International Flower Festival happening in April, but we have another heads up about a Korean Liquor and Food Festival scheduled for the weekend of May 19-20th. This one will be happening in the heart of Seoul at the Namsangol Hanok Village, and will feature all kinds of Korean alcohol and food pairings.
When: May 19th – 20th
Where: Namsangol Hanok Village near Chungmuro Station. Click here for details about the village and how to get there.
What: An event showcasing Korean alcohol and representative foods, performances and activities
The blossoms are blooming and we are mid-way through this year’s cherry blossom season, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t more flowers to be amazed and take selfies in front of! And what better way to enjoy the spring air and newly sprung flowers than with some makgeolli in hand? Thankfully someone else thought of this winning combination, and made a festival specifically for flowers & makgeolli.
When: April 29th – May 15th
Time: 11am – 9pm
Where: Outdoor Square of Goyang One Mount (website in English for One Mount can be found here) For directions follow the link and click on One Mount Transportation for a multitude of options.
What: Free tastings of makgeolli from the 8 provinces of Korea, a variety of food dishes and performances. Goyang is famous for its International Flower Festival which is held every year, and is one of the biggest flower festivals in Korea. This year there will be a makgeolli festival to go along with it, so you can get the best of both festivals. The flower festival is held around Ilsan Lake and more information about it can be found here.
Get out and enjoy some makgeolli in the spring air with plenty of flowers!
We are officially in Year 3 of the English language Makgeolli Brewing Certificate Course, and we are excited to announce this year’s course dates and lineup! After much feedback from last year regarding extended scheduling and time constraints, we have adjusted the course into two modules which will follow a weekly schedule every Monday evening from 7pm – 10pm. The first module will cover all the rice preparation techniques required to follow any recipe, with the second module offering a higher level of chemistry, analysis and commercial context. Completion of each module will award you a certificate from Gyeonggi University and Susubori Academy.
What Is Involved in Module 1: Brewing Foundations?
This course is designed to equip you with all the various techniques that allow for not only following traditional recipes, but also experimenting and developing your own brew. Each technique class will have a theoretical and practical component, as well as introducing a new recipe each week. A tasting will be included in each class featuring completed recipes from each technique, as well as representing brews available on the market.
What is Involved in Module 2: Practical Applications and Analysis?
After arming yourself with all the skills and techniques makgeolli brewing fundamentals, you can then choose to further your knowledge and brewing arsenal with this more in depth course. More theory based, this course will focus on the scientific elements of makgeolli fermentation as well as cultural and industry perspectives.
Do I Have to Take All Classes, or Can I Just Take a Few?
This year the course will be running as a full module. In order to receive the certificate, you must sign up before the commencement of the course and attend all 8 classes. However, if at the time of course commencement there are additional places available, these will be offered to the public on a first come first served basis.
I’ve Taken a Class Last Year, Can I Use that Class as Credit for the 2016 Course?
Yes! We welcome anyone who has taken an Intro or Intermediate Class last year. In the event that the class you took is repeated in Module 1, you will receive a discount on that class so as only to pay for the materials used. In your registration, be sure to specify which classes you have taken in the past to receive your new quote.
What is the Susubori Brewer’s Club?
This is an online forum for all experienced makgeolli brewers to share their experiences, issues and to share feedback on their brewing progress. You can join the group here, and share your own experiences, ask questions and learn from others in the community.
How Much Does The Course Cost?
The full cost for each module is 450,000won all materials and tuition included.
What is the Refund/Cancellation Policy?
If you sign up for the course and for some reason can no longer attend, refunds can only be offered before the commencement of the course. Therefore please make sure you are 100 percent sure you will be able to attend before making your payment. If in the event we are unable to hold the class due to low registration numbers or any unforeseen circumstances, your class fee may be refunded.
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.
Service: **** 4 Stars
Style: *** 3.5 Stars
Ambience: *** 3 Stars
Overall: *** 3.5 Stars
Fish Jeon: (soft, light, juicy, delicious)**** 4 stars
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.
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.
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.
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’. Every 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.
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!
We 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:
But 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).
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!
If 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.
And then there was the festival itself!
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.
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.
We can’t wait till next year for the next installment of the Jarasum Makgeolli Festival 🙂
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.
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.
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.
Service: ***** 5 Stars
Style: *** 3 Stars
Ambience: **** 4 Stars
Overall: **** 4.5 Stars
Baked Pork (보쌈): **** 4 Stars ~ Fatty, Juicy, Plentiful, Pairs well with Ihwaju.
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)
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.
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)