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TeJc Korean Drinking Guide – part 3 – the beers and the barbecue

This post on how to drink in Korea is pretty basic as it is about the beer and you have all drunk beer before. Korean beer is much like any other beer but, quite frankly, not quite as good. Well, unless we are talking about American beer as that is truly bad.

If you gave me the option of beer from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Japan, England, France or, erm,  most other countries or Korean I would pick “not Korean”. But Korean beer companies have a secret weapon up their sleeve – the barbecue. For some reason Korean beers work absolutely perfectly by reference to barbecue. It is almost their lack of distinguishing taste, their wateryness, their lack of ambition which renders them perfect fodder for the ritual of Korean barbeque.

Pork restaurant in Sinsa dong, Seoul

And Cass, Hite and their friends have locked into this ritual and refined a technique for drinking Korean beer. If you see the glass above you will notice it has a red line about 2/3 of the way up. All Korean beer glasses have a little mark at about this level as this is the level you fill your neighbour’s glass before dropping in a shot glass of soju which is known as a bombshot or poktanju (폭탄주). And then downing it in a synchronised display.

So in tribute to Korean beer, barbeque and drunkeness here is a little video Jen shot the other day whilst I was trying to eat and she was trying to annoy me with a camera. As you can see I was more concerned with trying to grab as much food as possible whilst she was distracted.


  1. I wonder if it is any coincidence that two masters of BBQ (Korea and USA) also mass produce rubbish beer 😉 ? Mind you *whizzing off on a tangent* microbrews in the US are ace.

    I like the video – there is something of a controlled frenzy in your movements as you eat that BBQ, but then, faced with the array of exciting sauces and meats, I would be pretty focussed as well.

    So, next on the home-cook agenda will be Korean BBQ, is it even possible to do at home. Given the might assortment of BBQ bits maybe a trip to New Malden (would it even come close to the real deal?) would be better.

    • I think you can get semi good bbq outside Korea. But what I didn’t realise was that the real star is the guk or jiggae (soup or stew) that you get to accompany it. Never had them before Korea. Now addicted to them.

  2. It’s a shame that Korean BBQ isn’t quite the same in London. It’s the grill, you don’t seem to get the proper grill in London – I guess charcoal indoors is prob a bit of a no-no.

    Love the special beer glasses too! Will there be some poktanju action at the wedding?

    • He – well I think you need two things:
      1. Charcoal; and 2. Attentive staff.

      Here they change the grill every 10 mins and after each meet so burn bits don’t stick to it and build up and also assist you throughout hte meal. And it is done on charcoal. Which gives it that awesome taste. Health and safety says no in London methinks.

  3. when can i visitttttttttttttttttttt

  4. Jon

    Good post, and I enjoy drinking beer with Korean barbecue. What I find strange is most of my Korean friends automatically reach for the soju at barbecue meals.

  5. That 7 minutes pork and kimchi jiggae from saemaul shikdang (and your video) is one of my favourite comfort foods in Seoul. Pity I can’t seem to eat go there without also ordering a mountain of meat and several beers.
    PS: Cass Lemon, don’t do it.

    • Cass lemon = pure wrong. I don’t think I will ever eat Korean bbq again when I leave. I am now addicted to the quality here.

  6. Derek

    Ok, so… I’ve been reading your blog for many a month now.. It helped out huge when i was in HK.

    But Czechoslovakia??? you know that country doesn’t exist now eh? Since 1992 even.

    But wicked Vid. Makes me wish i was back in Korea.

    • Ha – thanks for the comment and glad you read and it helped in HK.

      Yes I am slightly embarassed at that, especially as I have couple of good Slovakian friends.

  7. As an Australian I have to agree that beers and BBQs just go together. Great video!

  8. hahaha nice video.
    I’m not a fan of beer somehow, I try and I try and I can’t like it. But I love korean food, and I adore everything about korean bbqs, even that burnt meaty smell lingering on your clothes after you leave the place. mmm.

    • The secret key to the smelly clothes is to ask the front of house for a plastic bag and they stick your jackets in it. Protects them! Or if you are sitting on an oil barrel shaped thing they are always hollow so you can hide your jacket!

  9. It’s a great combo though…. Watery tasteless beer and hot, Smokey chargrilled meats. Brill.
    Loved the video, can we get some more of these little snippets ……

    • I need to get a camera which does video or lower Jen’s standards. She gets very snobby about shooting on an iphone and not having a tripod. I think more is better. She things doing good stuff is better. Crazy

  10. Nice. And I’m totally hooked on that catchy “La-na-na-na” song.

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