Cuisine, Korean Eats

Marinated Clams and Fried Oysters at Yeojaman










When some friends that work in the restaurant industry asked me to show them around, I had was excited to do so. Although, I regularly do food tours, with people in the restaurant industry, I am able to go a bit more extreme and go to places where I really enjoy going. One of my favorite makgeolli places in Insadong is Yeojaman which is known for their excellent seafood and their rice wine. It is an old place that has been around for over 10 years and the first restaurant is in the basement along the main drag (sorry, I know where it is but I can’t describe it because it would sound like gibberish. Let me say this: it is near the hotteok shop on the corner that also sells the walnut red bean desserts). The restaurant has another restaurant on the Insadong main drag as well, but I like the rustic feel of the first restaurant.

The food here is not cheap, but it is expertly cooked. We had the 꼬막무침 which is a plate of  marinated cockles. The soy-based marinade on the shellfish was delicious enough to drink and the cockles were fresh and flavorful. Since it was oyster season, we also got some pan-fried oysters. The oysters tasted like a chicken that took a swim in the ocean and then fell into a vat of oil. The light egg batter sealed in the freshness and the pop of the sea oysters. Yum.

We washed this all down with some green tea makgeolli (which just tasted like rice wine) and some citrus, “yuja” liquor.

1-1 Insa-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul
South Korea

Egg battered Oysters
Friendly atmosphere at Yeojaman

Here is the past article I wrote on this restaurant:

Double Entendre Makgeolli at Yeojaman 여자만

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Cafes/Bars, Southeastern Seoul

Gangnam Review: Helen’s Kitchen : Rice Wine Bar

Helen’s Kitchen

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
Hours: 4pm-2am
Category: Bar: Korean Rice Wine
Price: 10,000-20,000 won
English Menu: No
Spoken English:Yes
Vegetarian Options:Yes
Directions: Directions: Go down the road across from Seven Luck (Samseong-ro 104 gil) and walk 2 blocks

Busan Makgeolli
Makgeolli Bottles


photo 4-770704
Cafes/Bars, Central Seoul

Double Entendre Makgeolli at Yeojaman 여자만

The other night my friend Ben took me to a new hidden little Makgeolli place that I didn’t know before. It is hidden in the basement along Insadong Street And it has Makgeolli (Korean Rice Wine) and well prepared Korean Anju (pub food).  The food and Makgeolli are not as good as my favorite Makgeolli places such as Pub of the Blue Star, H-Makgeolli or Chin Chin- but I feel that makgeolli food should be rustic. Also, the price is quite high for what you get (Jeons start at 15,000 and Makgeolli starts at 5,000 a bottle for Seoul Makgeolli). The service is alright but nothing to write home about so… why should you go there?

The atmosphere of the place and the vibe is cool. The place has a hipster feel to it and even the name, Yeojaman is a play on words. Yeoja is girl and man is only, so..”.Women Only.” But it could also be seen as girl/man (Korean for girl plus Man). It’s witty and funny and the place has a whole tongue-cheek feel to it.

We wanted the special makgeolli but they had run out so we had to settle for Seoul Makgeolli (not good) but the food is higher quality than most makgeolli places. They have grilled mackerel, marinated clams and even grilled butterfish on the menu. The butterfish dish is 40,000 won and you get a hefty portion of delicious grilled fish (a bit expensive, but the people that come to Yeojaman are a more affluent and educated clientele).

After our second dish of food, we ordered some Yuja Makgeolli- citron makgeolli. This was a clear makgeolli that was flavored with refreshing citron. Very good and worth the trip here.

Yeojaman is not your typical makgeolli place. It seems a bit California although they serve Kansas-esque drinks. If you are looking for a bit more exclusive, I recommend you come here.

2-stars (out of 4) Good food, mediocre service, comfy atmosphere, a tad expensive.
1-1 Insa-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul
South Korea
Grilled Fish
Yuja Makgeolli

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Video: Daniel Gray’s Korea. Episode 1: Grandma’s No Name Makgeolli Restaurant

So you might have seen my awful attempts at making videos. I don’t have the gift for making videos. Luckily, the good people over at PSeight do. Director, producer, and cameraman, David Kim had asked me to introduce Korea on video and I was very happy to do this. Here is a video he took of me visiting one of my favorite little makgeolli places in Insadong. The place doesn’t have a name and the roof looks like it is going to cave in, but that’s the charm of this place.

Here is some more information on the video:

Daniel Gray of Ongo Foods Communication and Seoul Eats visits one of his favorite restaurants in Insadong, Seoul. This restaurant was started by an old lady and they basically serve only a couple of dishes like fried fish and makgeolli (Korea rice wine).

For more info on how to reach this restaurant, contact us: [email protected]

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Daniel’s food blog can be found here: seouleats

Come take a cooking class or take a Culinary Tour in Seoul! http://www.ongofood.com
Pictures are taken either with my Panasonic DMC-G2 Camera with 20mm Lens or with my iPhone 4G
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Cafes/Bars, Central Seoul 2

H-Makgeolli in Haebangchon

H-Makgeolli in HBC

I haven’t been to this place in a long time and I don’t know why. The food is, as it always was, very good and the staff that is working there are very accommodating and kind. They still have a large variety of different makgeollis there. I was there about 1 week ago with friends and we had the Buckwheat Flower (Maemil kkot), Corn, and Blackbean. The corn was pretty good but the Black bean one was too sweet. Everyone’s favorite was the Buckwheat Flower- very smooth and with a slight acidity.

Another thing I really like about this place is the care they put into making the food. The Acorn jelly salad (totori muk) was very fresh and the jellied acorn with veggies is a fine combination. The crunchiness of the carrots really helped bring the dish together. 
After this dish we had the Kimchi Pancake. This is really good. The batter is crisp and the kimchi is sour and a little spicy. Panfrying really brings the flavor out of the kimchi.
Like I said, it’s a great place to hang out with friends over some great rice wine and food.
Find directions here: http://www.seouleats.com/2010/02/my-new-favorite-makgeolli-place-h-in.html
Totori Muk
Corn Makgeolli
Kimchi Jeon
H-Makgeolli in HBC