There are very few quality Korean restaurants and pubs in the Itaewon area with the recent explosion of international fare, and this even more true in the foreigner-friendly area called Haebangchon (HBC) and Kyungridan. However, there is one place that I always make an effort to visit whenever I am back in Seoul: Damotori. This is a traditional Korean bar specializing in regional makgeolli (fermented rice wine) and terrific anju (food paired with alcohol). I’ve been coming here since they opened business 5 years ago but realized with my last visit that they have only gotten better over time.
Before I forget, here are some things that stand out about Damotori:
- Offers a huge, diverse list of makgeolli from all regions of Korean, minus only Jeju Island (my previous home).
- Each of their makgeolli is described in detail by origin, size, alcohol percentage, and price (in Korean).
- The popular makgeolli sampler allows customers to taste test five different varieties for only 2,000 won.
- They serve aspartame-free makgeolli for those with a discerning palate.
- The anju are top notch with their signature jeon (pancake) being cooked to perfection.
- Interior is clean, quaint, and intimate making it ideal for small gatherings or even a date night.
If you’ve been in Korea for a while, you probably know by now that makgeolli and pajeon are “rainy day” foods. I have always wondered what the reasons were, so I did some research on the phenomenon. Here are some of the popular theories that I’ve heard throughout the years. 1) Back in the old days when farming was common practice, farmers would gather on rainy days and share a few bowls of makgeolli and pajeon, the latter being one of the easiest and cheapest dishes to prepare consisting of green onions, wheat flour, and egg. 2) It is believed that the sizzling sound when making pajeon is similar to the sound of rain drops. 3) Humidity increases on rainy days, resulting in blood sugar levels dropping and people craving food that will restore blood sugar levels. 4) Rainy days often have people feeling down and depressed. Flour-based food and makgeolli will help since they contain high levels of serotonin, which improves mood and emotion as well as appetite. 5) They’re both just downright delicious and make one hell of a combination, rain or shine . 🙂
“Food, in the end, in our own tradition, is something holy. It’s not about nutrients and calories. It’s about sharing. It’s about honesty. It’s about identity.” ~ Louise Fresco
Food ★★★★½ out of 5 stars
Service: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
Ambiance: ★★★★½ out of 5 stars
Value: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
44-18 Yongsan-dong 2-ga, Yongsan-gu, Seoul (용산구 용산동 2가 44-18)
Hours: 6pm ~ 2am every day
Directions via Naver map: http://me2.do/GUEf5b5Q