One of our Korean friends took us to a traditional Korean bar last Saturday night. The atmosphere was so relaxing and contemporary. The middle of the bar was filled with sofas and coffee tables and the sides of the bar were lined with traditional sit-on-the-floor seating. There wasn’t a bartender or bar top and stools in sight. We shared “bar food” and drinks – which were so much nicer and filling than American peanuts or nachos at the bar.
We got makgoelli – a rice liquor – that tasted sweet and light. It came in a small pot with a ladle to serve everyone’s tea cups with. We also got lemon soju – mild vodka with lemonade flavor – which was served in a teapot.
Our bar food was communal like everything else in Korea. The meal was so filling though – like heavy hors d’oeuvres. My favorite was the seafood peon pancake, which had a light egg texture with chopped of seafood in it. We also had an octopus, squid, peanuts, crunchy fish snacks, and seaweed plate, pig neck slices, fish soup, dried cuttlefish, acorn jelly salad, and fresh fruit. All were pretty good – even the pig neck, which tasted like deli sliced meat. The acorn jelly tasted like flavorless jello and is popular among women because it has zero calories.
It was common to sit there for 1-2 hours slowly eating and enjoying your friend or partner’s conversation. The whole experience was more like having cocktails in a VIP lounge bar, really. They have your typical American bars too, but those are obviously for foreigners and modeled after our bars.