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What is a Korean Bar & Top 20 Korean Bars in Koreatown LA

Photo: Hanshin Pocha

According to a 2018 WHO report, citizens of the Republic of Korea drink 16L (about 32 water bottles) of alcohol per capita per year. In other words, Koreans love drinking.

Aside from drinking on traditional holidays and in-family rituals, Koreans love to drink regardless of the occasion. Koreans established ways to solidify bonds with family members, friends, and colleagues by consuming alcohol. Such activities include drinking games (Sul-game) and Soju bombs, a cocktail that is mixed with soju or whiskey and beer. 

However, Koreans also drink to catch up with old friends, build relationships with colleagues, celebrate birthdays, and more. From bars and pubs to restaurants, Koreans love to drink alongside delicious food. But there is a special alcohol culture that you can exclusively enjoy in Korean bars, particularly in Koreatown.

What is a Korean Bar and What are the Types of Korean Bars?

A Korean bar is known as a Sul-jip in Korean. Usually, there is a variety of alcohol paired with various dishes. Shown below are the most popular types of Korean bars.

1. Indoor Pocha (Pojangmacha)

KNS News

Pocha-style bars originated from Pojangmachas or street stalls in Korea. There are all kinds of Korean street food being sold in small tents. In the evening, many of these tents sell alcoholic beverages. Using this as inspiration, there are indoor bars that use this inexpensive and casual style known as indoor pocha.

2. Maekju-jip

Babe Seoul

Maekju-jip, aka Hof, is a bar that serves both drafted and bottled beer. In Korea, Maekju-jip is a place where people go meet friends and eat dried/fried snacks along with beer. 

3. Izakaya

jjo_Mean

Izakaya is a Japanese-style bar where people can settle in and enjoy a drink in a comfortable mood. Translating to stay-drink-place in Japanese, there is a great variety of alcohol served like soju, beer, whiskey, highball, or sake. Many Izakayas in South Korea include tiny single-counter joins to multi-story chains. 

4. Gamju

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Gamju, abbreviated from Gamsung-jujeom, is a bar where people enjoy drinks within an upbeat atmosphere with trendy music and dance. These bars have their own specific themes, and others have pretty decorations like coffee shops. Young adults often visit gamju, where they enjoy their nightlife by connecting with a fling or a dating app partner. 

What's So Special About Korean Bars?

Photo: Da In Kim

Korean bars are unique in their own ways as they serve bar foods similar to restaurants. Korean bars tend to have a laid-back vibe so that people can build a close relationship. From drinking games and building jeong (a warm feeling of attachment between people who share a close relationship, especially unique to Korea), Korean bars are a place to create new friendships or catch up with old friends. 

Popular Dishes (Anju) and How to Enjoy

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Bar foods, which are dishes meant to be accompanied with alcohol, are called Anju in Korean. Some of the most popular types of Anjus are as follows:

  • Dried snacks: dried seafood (dried squid, dried pollacks), dried fruits, rice puffs, popcorns, trail mix, roasted chicken
  • Fried snacks: fried chicken, fish and chips, french fries, potato chips
  • Korean dishes: pork belly dish, spicy rice cakes(Tteokbokki), Jjamppong(spicy seafood noodle soup), pig trotter dish, tofu and kimchi, skewered chicken(Dakkochi), etc. 

Oftentimes, there are certain anjus that go well with specific alcoholic beverages. For instance, dried and fried snacks go well with beer. Soup and pork dishes go with soju. Knowing these important combinations are essential for a satisfying drinking experience. 

20 Best Korean Bars in Koreatown LA

In Southern California, Koreatown LA is the best area to find Korean bars. Listed below, here are the 10 of our most recommended places to enjoy an authentic Korean bar experience.

1. Boolieya

Photo: Da In Kim

4. Chef Kang Sul Box

Chef Kang Sul Box

6. Izakaya Mi-young

Facebook: Izakaya Mi-young

9. Biergarten

Facebook: Biergarten

11. Seoul Salon Restaurant & Bar

@seoulsalon_la

14. Toe Bang Cafe

Facebook: Toebang Cafe

15. La Ddong Ggo

Facebook: La Ddong Ggo

17. Everyday Pocha

@ everyday.pocha

Experience a whole new world of drinking, especially if you’re new to Korean culture! And through these recommended bars, you’ll be guaranteed to have the best Friday night and weekend experience!

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