Since I’m on a roll today – I shall finally make good on the follow up from my previous post on drinking in Korea and introduce HOF to those uninitiated – its unofficially the first round of drinking in popular Seoul.
호프 (Hopeu) or, HOF, is the Konglish word derived from the Germain hofbrauhaus, which is your typical brewery where beers and bar food are served.
Don’t confuse the two, because in Seoul, HOF is a culture rather than just a place to eat. Its where all regular office workers, university students, and everyone of age heads to AFTER dinner to eat (again) and have a few good light crisp beers before going on to the heavy drinking (soju)
As far as I know, there are two kinds of HOF.
Firstly, the Korean style ones, where Korean-style street food and hotplates are served and drowned down with copious amounts of beer. That usually means its spicy, oily, fatty, and delicious.
L and I introduced LY and A to HOF during our dinner on the first day. We were all togged out in room wear after a grueling 24 hours of travel and just wanted some nice warm food before settling in to bed.
A HOF in Myeong Dong, ubiquitously run and owned by friendly ajummas with booming voices. They are usually very clean and cosy.
There are two main brands of beer that Koreans love – Cass and Hite.
I honestly cannot tell the difference between the two – rather, I feel that Korean beers are typified by a very crisp, clean taste and are generally so low in alcohol you will need at least five or six to get you feeling woozy.
At this Korean HOF, we ordered their specialty, which was pork and octopus, as well as the seafood ddukbokki.
Before: There is some semblance of presentation – the meat is curled up and arranged and the rice cakes point inwards – it is all a farce because soon it will just be one gluey delicious orange mess.
Point proven !
Don’t go into a HOF expecting Japanese style refined Izakaya food. Go in expecting meaty spicy messes dumped on rice cut through with the tang of fizzy beer, good conversation, and no pretension. Chew with abandon and talk with your mouth full. No one cares.
Forget sweet smiles and clean plates:
The chilli-phobes want a piece of the barbaric action too !
Just to prove to you how commonly both beers are drunk, we had Hite in Cass glasses heheh.
Things to be careful of at HOFs
- Do not mindlessly order. If you do not understand Korean, get someone to translate for you. They are found of serving BBQ entrails (intestine, heart, feet) at HOFs so please order with care.
- They do not serve single portions, only portion size is 2, 3, or 4. So if you are going alone be prepared to over-eat
- Don’t just order barbecue, but also other side dishes like the Gaeran Mari (fried eggs) which are delicious with rice!
- As you reach the end of the meal, ask the Ajumma for ‘bap’ – rice – she will come over with a big pot of rice and empty it into the orange remains of your meat meal and mash it so its soft and flavourful on top and you get that crispy slightly burnt rice at the bottom. Its something everyone should try.
Another very common accompaniment to beer in Seoul is Fried Chicken. You will usually see it in the same sign – Fried Chicken and HOF.
My favourite is Kyochon Chicken but when we reached their outlet I had been to the previous time it was gone! So we wandered around and found another popular choice – Hotsun Chicken
“Woman’s Style’ basically means that the chunks are usually bite sized and sometimes boneless and can be picked at delicately. Also, it means they use less oil or some healthier method of cooking – the chicken does not come with a bra and panties.
This time we had Cass. It was good tradition to drink the first mouthful of beer very loudly and smack your lips after the fizz goes down. Rude but so fun.
Gherkins and Radish Pickles.
The Gherkins I guess are the more modern take on Korean kimchi – they are very salty and very addictive but I prefer the cooler white radish kimchi 동치미 김치 (dong-chi-mi kim-chi) , which is very very refreshing.
Some cute odeng in clear soup too because we’re Asian and gotta have some soup.
Two kinds of chicken you have to try:
Crispy Garlic non-spicy Fried Chicken
This is my personal favourite – I don’t know how they do it but the chicken is always tender and juicy and never dry, and yet the skin is crispy and so umami. I heard its a double-frying method but I think its impossible to recreate at home without making a mess.
This is the grilled version using Chicken thighs and it comes in a slightly sticky but super tasty sauce. A bit more difficult to eat but equally delicious !