Saturday, December 20, 2008

Local Pub Review

So, I stayed in the neighborhood tonight, and did a mini-barhop of some of the "western-style" bars that I have not been to. Ordinarily, one rates bars on price, selection, atmosphere, music, management/friendliness, food. But not in Korea: the price for a draft 500 cc (oh bek) is virtually always W2000 to W3000. Selection, too, is a Korean phenomenon--while there are occasionally bars with a wide selection, most places have Hite/Cass/OB on draft, plus about six to ten imports. I chose Western-style bars so I could get by without ordering food, or "an-ju"--as a foreigner, I can just shrug that I don't understand and repeat my request for a maek-chu. Service is not a value point anyway, since tipping is not done here.

Even though it has a cool name and a neon slogan "for the old boys", this place was a mom-and-pop dump with about five tables, and no draft. No music or atmosphere. I paid W6000 for a Heinie and hit the road.

I think the name is a pun or something on Hite Beer, a basement level bar that was totally devoid of customers when I visited. Music was Korean traditional. The walls were white and the decor was gray and black. Nice cloth sofas, and tables edged in silver, but the little alcoves in the wall were sparsely decorated with fake flowers.

There were also a couple of potted "mother-in-law tongues", which are popular in places with little natural light. This Wikipedia entry says it's also known as the snake plant. And says the MIL label is because it is "sharp". I always thought it was because you can't do anything to make it go away. It's very hardy. The bar was antisceptic.

Though the server was dour adjumma, that's not a reason to count a bar out. The music was an interesting mix of Korean, Christmas music and alternative. The decor had about two dozen figurines in the various wall alcoves, figures ranging from Mike Tyson to Genghis Khan to Sitting Bull. Behind the front window was a long, thin grow box mainly populated by MIL tongues.

The 500 cc here was only W2000, and it was warm (thanks to well-placed ceramic heaters), and one of the customers spoke to me (in English) when I first came in. Pax, of course, means peace, so the warrior figurines are a bit non-sequitur.

Well, that's what the big Hangeul letters say, anyway. However, this bar replicates a Wild West theme better than many such places I've seen in the States. To begin with, outside, the deck (which has tables and chairs during the moderate months) boasts big, life-size figures of Elvis, a cigar-store Indian, a Confederate soldier and a cowboy. Very kewl.

The interior walls are covered in movie posters, and more life-size iconic figures; also, I got my beer pretty quick, considering the size of the place. The decor is a rough-hewn, plywood look, with about 500 lighted beer bottles suspended from the ceiling in wooden consoles. It's very busy but it works.

I've presented the bars in increasing order of their scores. Chances are good I will never revisit the local Loss Time (it is a chain), and I would only go back to Hiteer with about two to six other people to liven it up. Hint, hint.

Bonus Photograph:

Bar napkins reading Kam-sa-ham-needa, or Thank You