CLOSED Fried Ginseng and Rice Wine Sorbet at Chin Chin

Crispy Fried Ginseng at Chin Chin Makgeolli Bar in Hongdae

Sometimes you have to give a restaurant a second chance. Chin Chin in Hongdae had a reputation for having great food, however, I never understood the hype. My first experience at Chin Chin was…meh. The rice wine, makgeolli, was great-but the food wasn’t anything spectacular. I ordered a grilled mackerel dish and I remember getting an tiny, almost spoiled fish- it didn’t go well with the Makgeolli. The chef, a recent graduate of CIA, was bolting out the door as soon as it was served. I mentioned my problem with the dish and they told me the kitchen had closed.

The second time I went, I stuck with just the Makgeolli.

My last trip back, I noticed that the excellent makgeolli was still there, but there was a new chef. The food had traditional Korean flavor fused with modern techniques and plating. I was utterly amazed. My favorite dish was the very crispy, tempura ginseng. The battered, pan-seared fish was also excellent.

Name: Chin Chin (친친)
Phone: 02-334-1476, 010-7252-2001
English Spoken, English Menu
Type: Makeolli (Korean Rice Wine) Bar and Fusion Restaurant
Directions: Go out Hongdae Station Exit 5 and make a left and the second right (at Coffee Brown). Go all the way up to Hongdae University Entrance. At the intersection in front of Hongdae, make a left. You’ll find Chin Chin next to Starbucks.
Address: 343-9, Sekyo-dong, Mapo-ku, Seoul, Korea (서울시 마포구 서교동 343-9)

Frozen Makgeolli Sorbet at Chin Chin Makgeolli Bar in Hongdae

The Grains of Rice Lights at Chin Chin Makgeolli Bar in Hongdae

Frozen Makgeolli Sorbet at Chin Chin Makgeolli Bar in Hongdae

Makgeolli at Chin Chin Makgeolli Bar in Hongdae

Chin Chin Makgeolli Bar in Hongdae

Raw Fish Salad at Chin Chin Makgeolli Bar in Hongdae

Battered, Pan Fried Fish at Chin Chin Makgeolli Bar in Hongdae

North Korean Beer at Chin Chin Makgeolli Bar in Hongdae

Daniel Gray

Daniel Gray is a Korean adoptee and entrepreneur that returned to Korean in 2005 because he wanted to try and find his birth mother and to learn about Korean culture. He started a restaurant review blog in 2007,, that became a local and international hit. He and his blog has been featured in the New York Times, Monocle Magazine, The Kimchi Chronicles, Bizarre Foods, Rudy Maxa, Olive Magazine, Euronews and much more. He now is a partner at O’ngo Food Communications (, which is a culinary tourism and consulting company that offers Korean cooking classes and restaurant tours to travelers. In 2013, he started Brew 3.14 Pizza Pub. His food tours, cooking classes, and restaurant are ranked as some of the top attractions in Seoul according to the website tripadvisor. He lives in Korea with his wife.

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