Helen’s Kitchen : Korean Cloudy Rice Wine Bar
Makgeolli is called farmer’s alcohol because it is a simple alcohol made from ground rice, water and yeast (nuruk). Served chilled, this drink has a crisp taste and it is slightly carbonated so it goes well with greasy dishes such as onion or potato pancake or spicy dishes as sauteed pork in chili paste or kimchi and tofu. Makgeolli can differ from city to city and the taste can be altered by the use of different rice or by adding bean, corn, herbs, and even fruit like raspberry.
Helen’s Kitchen offers a wide range of artisan makgeollis served with traditional dishes such as savory seafood and onion pancakes, tofu with kimchi, acorn jelly with chive salad, and grilled garlic octopus that are a fine match with the drink. They have seasonal makgeolli’s and specials on most nights. At Helen’s Kitchen you can taste a wide range of different makgeolli’s. They have makgeolli’s at different price points as well. You can try the very common Seoul makgeolli (4,000 won) to some that might cost 20,000 won a bottle. At this pub, they have over 25 different types of rice wine drinks.
I can’t say it is my favorite Makgeolli bar, but it is great for Gangnam. They really try their best to show the wide range of rice wines and the food is cooked right. Now, I didn’t see a Helen in the Kitchen (I think there was a Mr. Kim), so I don’t know what the meaning of the name means. I should have asked the owner, but I think it was the 3rd stop and at that point my conversation skills were limited to talking about…forgettable stuff. The kitchen is not the main draw for this place- it’s the wide variety of rice wines. Sure, it is much more expensive than other places but everything in Gangnam is 20 to 30% higher. But in comparison to other places in the area, Helen’s kitchen isn’t too bad. You can get out of there nicely drunk and full for about 15,000 won a person.
The atmosphere is comfortable and the staff are very friendly.
Recommended makgeollis are: Takbaeggi, Saeng Doksan, Sobaeksan Dong-dong ju, and ask the bartender what the rice wines of the day are.
Name: Helen’s Kitchen
Address: 149-31 Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Phone Number: 02-539-6067
Category: Bar: Korean Rice Wine
Price: 10,000-20,000 won
English Menu: No
Directions: Directions: Go down the road across from Seven Luck (Samseong-ro 104 gil) and walk 2 blocks