Nuruk Namu (누룩 나무)

Name: Nuruk Namu  (누룩 나무)

Location: Insadong (By Anguk Station)

Reviewed by: Mamas and Pappas on June 14th

 

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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!

 

Overall: **** 4 Stars

Some serious contemplation  by our mamas and papas
Some serious contemplation by our mamas and papas

Food:

순대 복음 Sundae **** 4 stars                                          (Well cooked, well seasoned, “Best I’ve tried“, Smooth)

재육되지고기 Fried Pork **** 4 stars                          (Gochujang marinade, Soft, Well cooked, Delicious)

두부김치 Tofu Kimchi *** 3.5 stars                            (A fine rendition of the requisite makgeolli accompaniment )

벼없는 닭발 Boneless Chicken feet **** 4 stars (Moderate spice, juicy, chewy, wonderful)

 

Makgeolli:

팔공산  미나리  막걸리 (Dropwort/Japanese Parsley Makgeolli) ** 2 stars  (Bland, dry, abrupt finish, curious aftertaste )20140614203235353

유자 동동주 (Citrus Dong Dong Ju) *** 3 stars                                                                 ( Strong, orange rind, sour despite aspertame, Shot finish)

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). 

 

 

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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.

Mixing Some 지희향 탁주! Yum!
Mixing Some 지희향 탁주! Yum!

Recommendations: The area is, as previously mentio20140614211328061ned, 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).

 

Map: here

Phone: 02-722-3398

 

Have you been to Nuruk Namu before? Tried more dishes or have more opinions? More questions? Leave us a comment below and tell us what you think!

 

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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)

Story of the Blue Star (푸른별 주막)

Name: Story of the Blue Star (푸른별 주막)

Location: Insadong

Reviewed by: Mamas & Papas on: 22nd September, 2012

Thoughts:  Story of the Blue Star has had a lot of positive write ups, the Huffington Post even calling it “One of the coolest little bars in the whole world”.  It is a rustic and relaxed little  spot, hidden in the back alleys of Insadong in a converted Hanok.  It’s run by a famous stage and film actor, Choi Il Soon, whose true passion is travel.  The food is all organic, the makgeolli fresh and unique, and the atmosphere cozy and comfortable.

Photo Credit: Mimsie Ladner

LOCATION                                       FOOD

Service:       ****                              Dubu Kimchi (두부김치) :  ***1/2

Style:             **** 1/2                     Mak Jeon(막전):    ****1/2

Ambience:  ***1/2                          Deodeok Gui (더덕구이):  ****1/2

OVERALL:  ****                             Pork Bulgogi (돼지고기 연탄불고기):   ****

MAKGEOLLI

Saeng Makgeolli  (생막걸리):   ***1/2   (soft, sweet, smooth, spritzy)

Mulberry Leaf makgeolli (봉잎막걸리):       ***  (liquorishy, fresh, bitter, interesting)

Photo Credit: Mimsie Ladner

Note:  Also available is Mugwort, Green Tea, Taro and Doraji.  These powders are added to the saeng makgeolli to subtly blend the flavors.

Story of the Blue Star is the kind of place you’d like to go to sit back, have a couple of kettles and talk long and loud with good friends.  The interior is relatively small and the tables close, but the atmosphere is a fusion of relaxation and old traditional charm.  The menu is written up on the wall on scribbles of paper, and don’t be surprised if somebody whips out a guitar and has belts out a few tunes.

What Mamas & Papas liked :  The food.  All the ingredients were fresh and of high quality, so the food quickly vanished from our tables as soon as it arrived.  All Mamas & Papas raved about the Pork Bulgogi, which comes with lettuce and cabbage wraps.  

One Mama described it as “Simply awesome!”.

The dubu kimchi was also of top notch freshness, as we discovered they actually make their own tofu.  Mamas & Papas also were impressed by the freshness of the makgeolli.  It is just simple fresh makgeolli sourced from Sangju, but Mamas & Papas agreed it was delicious and easy to drink.

What Mamas & Papas didn’t like: The Makgeolli variations.  Mamas & Papas tried the mulberry leaf, mugwort and herb makgeolli, but many didn’t quite know what to make of it.   At first try of the mulberry leaf makgeolli, most Mamas & Papas thought it was more like a green tea flavor.  One Mama said “It would be better if the powder was mixed better.”  It was an interesting experience and certainly got us talking, and eventually it won some of us over, but overall it didn’t rate well against the saeng makgeolli.

Photo Credit: Mimsie Ladner

Recommendation: Story of the Blue Star is a great place if you’re looking for somewhere to sit and have a good long chat with friends over delicious food and fresh makgeolli.  It’s not a quiet location, so you can feel free to laugh and let your hair down without disturbing anyone else.  It’s a great place to introduce people to a taste of the old style Korea mixed with a lively energy.

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!

Map: here

Phone Number: 02 734 3095

 

Links:

You can read more about the man behind Story of the Blue Star at Seoul Eats, and read another review at Hejorama, And our own Mama Mimsie Ladner did a great write up at her blog Seoul Searching.

Have you been to Story of the Blue Star before?   Tried more dishes or have more opinions? More questions?  Leave us a comment below and tell us what you think!