April 30, 2015
Ah bar life in Korea. A key point to everyone’s experience in Korea whether you drink alcohol or not. The bar scene in Korea is very different than what we’re used to back home. There are many different types of bars, all of which we plan on making WANKs for, but for today’s video we’re going to focus on the Korean basic: the good old fashion PojangMacha 포장마차 also know as Pocha 포차 for short.
The Pocha is a basic Korean bar which can be outdoors, set up on the side of road, plastic wrapped shut in the winter, and is equipped with quivery plastic tables and stools. If you’ve seen a Korean drama, you’ve seen the lead end up at one of these and pound back soju on a bad day while a sassy ahjumma cooks and watches over them. The menu is normally simple with basic Korean booze such as one brand of soju and maybe even beer. The anju, which are mandatory side dishes, usually consist of dried squid, nuts, fish cake, and maybe a fruit platter. This very basic kind of Pocha has definitely morphed over the years and while you can still find the plastic wrapped outdoor Pocha in any local neighbourhood, you can find all kinds on indoor ones now.
The most basic Pocha in a local neighbourhood can be tacky as hell with awful velvet textured floral print fabric wrapped booths and totally mediocre anju. Did I mention blue tinted lighting? Cause that will happen. Now there are so many modern Pochas everywhere that cater to the younger crowd. They all serve Korean pub food like various dried squid, nuts, fruit platters, stews (jjigae), fried fish, french fries, and even fusion street food but some of them get fancy with “nachos” or “pizza”. Be warned, this is usually an awful choice so don’t go there unless you’re looking for your pizza to actually be a tortilla covered in ketchup and shredded cheese. The Korean food can be absolutely satisfying and even straight up yummy at a good location. The location we went to, Warawara, is actually a Japanese owned location which is why they have things like sake on the menu, but it caters to the Korean audience with Korean food and drinks. Some people might be so bold to call Warawara an Izikaya but we’d argue that point because it has no typical Japanese pub food on the menu. We love Warawara because their drink menu is very exciting, I mean, LOOK AT THAT BLENDED PINEAPPLE DRINK!!!! LOOK AT IT!!!! Not all Pochas have this kind of choice so check out the menu before you grab a seat to see what they offer.
1. When in a group of people, pick anju based on how freaking hungry you are. Fried food needs to be eaten right away or it gets gross and soggy over time. That includes street food like dukkbokki and fish cakes which get gross and bloated very quickly. French fries are an exception to this rule because Korean fries are usually very crispy to begin with. If you’re looking to order anju just because you have to but you’re not very hungry, something like dried squid or fruit will hold up over time.
2. Stew aka jjigae is always one of my favourite choices because it often comes with a burner allowing you to warm it up once it gets cold. We’ve lingered over kimchi stew while drinking and gone back for more after a couples bottle of soju foooooooor surrrrrre.
3. If you’re with a group of people, soju is always a good way to break the ice especially when you have all our Korean Drinking Games under your belt! If it’s too strong, order a cola or cider to mix with it. If you want to nurse your drink, go for a giant pitcher of beer. It usually comes in a double walled pitcher to stay cold on those hot summer days in Seoul.
4. If you don’t want to drink anymore but you’re at a mandatory group outing for school/team called an “MT” (Membership Training) or even at an after work meeting (hwehshik) it’s time to learn how to hide your shots. Yes, you can bow out of drinking but people might nag you (especially when they’re drunk), think you’re a debbie downer, or that you’re not part of the team. I recommend pouring water into your shot glass so you can join in the cheering which is really all anyone wants. If you can’t do this straightforwardly, I have many a times filled my own glass with water and then quickly filled my shot glass with water too. Option two: We recommend lifting up your shot glass to cheers with everyone and then pretending to down it while you actually throw it on the ground. Yup. Seriously lift it to your mouth and bring it back down under the table and dump it fast. This has literally never failed me. Option three is to dump it in a water glass. Then get to pouring shots of soju or glasses of water for other people before they notice.
5. And the most important tip of them all? GET FREE CAKE! Now, this isn’t guaranteed, but it has worked for us many times, and hopefully it’ll work for you, too. Here’s how it goes: as we mentioned in the video, Korean bars like this one set up a bunch of micro-environments, so you and your friends can sit at your table and enjoy each others’ company, while people at another table can do the same, and everyone can ignore each other. Sometimes, you’ll notice a table that has brought a cake, because they’re celebrating a friend’s birthday. Later on in the evening, though, they’ll light the candles and start singing happy birthday and clapping. You, at your table elsewhere, should sing and clap, too. I mean, it’s nice of you! You’re helping make someone’s birthday special! We’re always happy to see someone celebrating their birthday, so we’ll clap along. We’ve noticed, though, that most every time we do this, they’ll come over and bring us a slice of cake. It’s so very kind, and completely unnecessary. We clap because we took part in the glee of the moment. We didn’t do so for cake. But now it seems like the consequences of our clapping have been so conditioned into us that we can’t help but now think clapping=free cake. So, there you have it. This might work for you as well. Give it a shot. Even if it doesn’t work, at least you helped make someone a wee bit happier on their birthday :D Speaking of birthdays, it’s Martina’s birthday tomorrow. HOORAY!
We’re also putting up the locations and dates for our US/Canada Meet Your Kimchi tour tomorrow. The tickets will be on sale starting tomorrow. Double Hooray! And we’ll be having an ultra-special giveaway for our app users. It’s probably THE BIGGEST THING we’ve ever given away, by 1000 fold. Get our app for Android and iOS. Trust me. It’ll be worth it :D
Anyhow, we have a few extra scenes from last night as well. Did you notice our new camera? This was our first video we shot with it, so we’re a bit wonky with it still, but it’s great for shooting in low-light places. We couldn’t have shot this video on our regular Canon camera. Ok I’ll stop talking about the camera. Extra scenes! Secret lovers!