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Gecko's Terrace and Bar: Where the Wild (Western) Things Are
This is where the Westerners swarm- GI's, English teachers, civilians, and a few of the Korean women they are after. Cass beer is cheap, and if you are going here, expect to get drunk, as everyone else is. This place seems to be an obligatory visiting point for any young Westerner in Seoul. It is a veritable melting pot, as well; while drinking, I was hanging out with a New Zealander and a Londoner, as well as a Korean girl. There seems to be somewhat of an air of depression about Gecko's, but maybe it is just pubs in general, heh. The theme is very wooden, and pub-y. The food is not bad- try the fish and chips, or the won-ton soup. Coke and water (mul) cost $2-$3, and the food averages around $8-12. Not as expensive as many "foreign" food places in Itaewon. The staff speaks English, and they sell CUBAN CIGARS for dirt cheap, from $7-$27, I believe.
Dress Code: Casual, it is a pub
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Western Bars and Hofs (Korean Bars): One in every corner
There is a bar almost anywhere you look. Drinking is an unofficial part of the Korean culture, and you will see more drunk staggering people on the weekends than during the weekdays. Soju, a Korean rice wine, can be bought by the bottle, or flavored with different... well, flavors.
The picture shows 2 pitchers by the way, the bars don't have a supersize choice on their beers...
Hard Rock Cafe: Another one for my collection....
As a Hardcore Hard Rock Cafe Lover I had to go to the HRC in Seoul. It was very hard to find. No subway near the Restaurant, we couldn't find a bus and the taxi driver didn't know where it is....
We finally found it and had some snacks and beer. And I have to say, it was very, very expensive compared to Seoul prices.
After all, I had my shot glass for my collection. That's all what matters.
Dress Code: Doesn't matter
와바/WA Bar (many locations): Ice Bars = Nice Bars
Wa Bar is one of the many chains in Korea (they love chain-stores and such here--a lot). It has many imported beer as well as Korean anjoo (food to eat with alcohol: Koreans love to eat while they drink, too).
The highlights of the bars are: the many bottles of beer, cider and other beverages that adorn the shelves near the ceiling; and the ice-bars. Basically, an ice-bar is a trough in the middle of a table which is stuffed with beer (and other) bottles then loaded with ice. You can choose your favorites (or order from the menu) and at the end of the night the staff tallies up the damage. With over 20 bottled varieties it makes for an interesting night out.
Oh, and "Wa Bar" interestingly translates similar to the Korean slang for "come here!". Imagine that, naming a bar 'come here'...
Some also have bonuses, too. One in Jeon-Ju has a system where if you collect 70 bottlecaps at that bar you get free nachos everytime you come in that bar--FOR LIFE! It's worth asking if they have something special.
Dress Code: Anything.
Western Bars and Hofs (Korean Bars): Kkoon Ice Bar
I came here with friends on their first night in business (in June 2004) and came about every 2-3 weeks since then. It's our regular stop after dinner and before noraebang or Bunkers (tip on that also).
It's pretty quiet (which is a good thing if you want a place to drink that's not super-crowded--so you can talk). You can request songs (when I walk in they sometimes start playing my tracks!) and there's a little dance area if you like as well.
The big feature is the 2 ice-bars (troughs of ice in the middle of the table that houses a veritable pot pourri of international beers). Just take as many as you like; the prices are lower than most places and they settle it up at the end by counting the bottles (about 6,000 won/5.50USD each).
Sometimes they have specials...like Jose Cuervo shots for 3,000 won or a whole (700 ml !) bottle for just 46,000 won. Unreal...almost cheaper than at the store and over 50% off any other place.
Food is trypical Korean hof fare: dried squid,
Dress Code: Anything.
Debut Bar: Man, how drunk can you get
If you're feeling lonely in Seoul and missing mom this is the place to go. It's stuck between a string of the Hills notorious juicy bars but it ain't one, just a regular pub run by a very friendly, down to earth, sociable lady called Polly and a few friendly assistants. Drinks are normal prices - 4,000 won for a Cass, and 10,000 won per drink for the ladies - gotta make money somehow. It's frequented mainly by, sometimes quite inebriated, expats, hardly any GIs, some locals, absolutely no hookers, etc. Opens at about 10:30 pm but best time is between midnight and 7 am when other places are closing. Polly must be the mother of all expats, as they fondly pop by and report their status', if you're hungry she will even order a pitza for you. Check out the barmaids and the, humph, dj too, just down try your luck......
Dress Code: As long as there's somethiing on your *rse! But behave yourself, Koreans are quite conservative, even in the middle of the Hill
Shinchon: Eating, Drinking and Generally Boozing
Shichon is the neighbourhood that adjoins Hongdae, yet it is a destination in itself. One has to be reminded that Shinchon is the confluence of three of Koreas top Universities; Yonsei (ranked # 2), Sogang (ranked #4), and Ewha Womens' University, (ranked #1 for womens' varsities). This is a lot of students. Yet we are also obliged to add the guys from Honggik, who are about 1km away.
Shichon is very Korean, and is an acquired taste. Most Westerners frequent Hongdae. But after awhile Shinchon will grab you. They cheap kalbi, the atmosphere, the dried squid, peanuts and nasty pitchers of Sang Maekju (draught beer). Hofs (taken from the German - places where you are obliged to buy An Ju- drinking food) and Western Bars (where you are not obliged to by food)
Shichon is also somewhat famous for retro music and MASSIVE record and CD collections. Dotted around Shichon are Music Request Bars. Some are Woodstock, Texas and my fave Bar 33 (Norae Hanun Saramdul).
Give Sinchon a few weekend nights. You'll be plesantly surprised.
Dress Code: Hmmmm. Who cares! ^^*
Nara - Nopadayaki: A Novel Experience: Nopadayaki
As far as I know a Nopadayaki is a Japanese style Tavern. Traditionally they sold Skae of different descriptions, and various rice wines. But these days the alcohol being perveyed is much more diverse.
Nopadayaki are immensely popular in Korea, especially with the professional crowd. Nopadayaki are essentially pubs, but they also offer food. Tasty dishes like Chicken Teriyaki Kebabs, Teriyaki grilled Tuna, Fish cakes and soup. Barbecued Squid, octopus and many many other fancies from the big blue.
Korean Nopadayaki also sell in addition to Japanese 'sul' (alcohol), korean as well; including Dongdong Ju (rice wine), Cheon Guk, Baek Seju, Sansachon (fruit Rice wines), Soju and Beer (both Japanese and domestic).
Give a Nopadayaki a try. They are great places to get yourself slowly drunk with some friends.
Dress Code: Dress nicely. It is sort of expected. All the other people around you will be somewhat smartly dressed.
Gecko's Terrace Restaurant & Bar: Ex-Pat Central
This is quite a good place. Although it can pack out in the weeknds, which is a bit of a bugger when your wearing ***ty shoes and all you wanna do is sit down and take a load of.
Geckos offers mostly European and Cajun-style food, well some of the best you can get in Seoul. The food is sent to your table in huge portions, and pretty well priced. I recommend the Fish and Chips.
The drink menu is good, most top shelf that one would expect, and an array of cheap insipid Korean beers on tap; Cass and Red Rock (2500 won for a pint), they also have an extensive wine list and bottled beer from all over the world.
Entertainment is a DJ, Pool, Darts, Rugby on TV and checking out the talent.
Dress Code: Be sure that you don't turn up looking or acting like a Pratt. Geckos has a heallthy G.I. population.
Gecko's Garden Restaurant & Tapas Bar: Tienen Tapas?
Now this is a place I like. Its situated above the road behind the Itaewon main drag.
It has a great Tapas menu including, Jamon, Calamare, Cheese, Shrimp rolls, l'escargot pastries, etc etc.
The Wine List is brill. One of the best I've found in Korea that is resonably priced. There are Good selections from the US, Italy, France, Chile and even some good munties from Australia like Nottage Hill, and Koonunga Hills Wineries. However none from New Zealand yet (Still hopeful).
The Barbeque is brillaint. Its only about $40 for two people and apart from the Shrimps on the Barbie as expected, they have a pretty good Paella to boot.
Beers are same as the Terrace. But the garden atmosphere is FAB!!! A SEOUL MUST SEE, REALLY!
Dress Code: Dress nice. Why not. This place deserves it. And you do too.
Western Bars and Hofs (Korean Bars): Go Pub hopping in Itaewon
Itaewon is a very cosmopolitan neighborhood just south of Namsan mountain. It is the original foreigner ghetto set up by the Korean monarchy in the 1880's and has retained its international flavor. You can find crowds of people speaking several different languages. On my last trip, we unexpectedly crashed a birthday party of Belgians, and were treated warmly dispite our cluelessness.
Itaewon has several good options for getting good beer. I prefer the Three Alley Pub, which has a fine selection of Belgian beers, some good German beers and Guinnesss on tap. Also good are Geckos outdoors (for relaxed drinking) or Geckos (for a more active time). Woodstock's has live music. Finally, if you want to stay up until dawn, try the Lime Lite.
Just a few things to remember. The metro closes before the bars (I learned this last trip) so don't spend your taxi fare if you're staying out late. It's also interesting to observe the difference in the atmosphere before and after curfew on the nearby military base. I
- Beer Tasting
Platinum Microbrewery - Gangnam
Platinum Microbrewery has two locations in Seoul: Gangnam Station and Apgujeong. We visited the Gangnam location. It is a spacious and somewhat fancy place, a little more upscale than your typical American microbrewery, but the beer was tasty. They advertised 7 varieties on tap: Pilsner, Wheat, Belgian White, English Ale, Brown Ale, Platinum, and Cream Stout, however when we were there, they were out of Pilsner and Wheat. One of my friends compared it to McDonald's being out of Big Macs...
Beer is about 7000 Won for a .68 liter glass, and about 5000 Won for the .35 liter glass.
Scarlet Bar - Hannam-dong
Scarlet is a nice large bar in the center of Hannam-dong's small nightlife area just northwest of the Hannam Bridge. It has a huge bar that seats around 25 people. The windows open in the summer, letting the nice cool air in. This is probably the best spot in Hannam-dong.
Seoul Pub: The Only Bar in Itaewon
By far the best watering hole in Itaewon and possibly all of Seoul. Mr. Jung bought this bar from his brother-in-law (German) some years ago and has carried on the tradition of a fine place to celebrate the end of the week, the end of the day, or the end of your marriage. Great place to sit in the window and watch life zoom past on Itaewon Dong. During the massive blizzard of 2001 I sat in the window upstairs and watched frustrated drivers abandon their cars right out front and leg it home. The food is pretty good for pub grub and the portions are great for the price. Stop by and play the boot or dice game and then challenge Mr. Jung to a game of "Slap Sumo." Too funny.
Dress Code: Just don't come naked, anything else is acceptable.
Kaiser Hof: Chicken Hof in Yeouido
It's a little embarassing: I have been to this hof (bar, short for the German hoffsbrau) so many times that the proprietor knows my name, but i just figured out it's name. Kaiser Hof has an interesting interior design: a big poster of a German beer hall, a Budweiser poster, an R/C (radio-controlled) helicopter and Korean beer ad periphanalia....your typical Korean hof, really.
There is hardly any music, usually a TV is showing a footballl game or talk show. The only beer is Cass/Hite draft and the anjoo (drinking food) is popcorn (mmmmmm....can hardly find popcorn in this town, much to my chagrin). However, the bar-be-qued chicken (sauce on top or on the side) and saugsages are great! They make them right on site (which is saying something because the place is tiny!) and serve them with diced moo (not what you're thinking...moo is a kind of radish) and shredded cabbage with mayo and ketchup on top (better than you might think).
There are many other chicken (and other) hofs in the building this one is in (one of which is populated almost entirely by young girls).
Dress Code: It's mostly businessmen in suits (owing to its location) but I have been here in inline skates lately...so anything goes.
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