Seoul, Korea: 8 Best Clubs and Bars, 2017

Seoul, Korea: 8 Best Clubs and Bars, 2017

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Recently, I went to Korea for a month on exchange – and it was a WILD month. The number of friendships forged and experienced gained is uncountable, and we spent every weekday night at a bar, and weekend night at a club. Here’s my top recommendations for drinking there, as well as tips and favourite clubs in Korea.

Rule of Thumb: Never stop at 1 bar or club because there is so much to see, try and visit. One night is not sufficient to fully experience clubbing/drinking in Korea. For a full Korean experience, visit ALL these places in one night in the vicinity you are in.

1. BAR: Castle Praha, Hongdae

Looking for a cool bar for Instagram? Castle Praha was one of the first bars I went to in Korea. It had an AMAZING exterior that resembled a castle, and a spacious interior. Castle Praha has good beer and finger food, and would be one of the first bars I’d hit when bar-hopping in Hongdae. Although slightly on the pricier side, Korean drinks are still generally affordable, and I would be willing to pay for this – especially when on vacation. Castle Praha is also quiet, making ita good place to chill with family or to bring someone on a date.

TLDR; Great atmosphere and decor, slightly pricey, good to chill.

Contact:
Castle Praha
395-19 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
12:00 pm ~ 12:00 am
+82 2-337-6644

2. CLUB: Cream, Hongdae

Cream at Hongdae is one of the quieter clubs in Hongdae. Upon entry (10,000KRW), a free gift is given – I got a hat the first time, a t-shirt on the second. Club Cream plays Hip-Hop music with a Live DJ, and has a bar right in the middle of the dance floor for easy access to drinks. Alcohol is also extremely cheap at 10,000KRW for 3 yagerbombs, or 10,000KRW for 3 tequila shots. Toilets are also clean and the location is easily accessible. Despite it being a relatively quiet place with emptier dance floors, it became a place we went to often because of the cheap drinks and chill atmosphere. Who says no to cheap drinks and Hip Hop, right?

Why you should go: Cheap drinks, free gifts, hip hop.
Why you should avoid: Emptier than usual club, small.
Price Range: 3000KRW-10,000KRW

Contact:
Cream
395-18 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
7/9:00 pm ~ 5/7:00 am
+82-10-4858-3142

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/creamhongdae

3. CLUB: NB2, Hongdae

NB2, also known as “Noise Basement,” is one of the hottest clubs in Hongdae, with 2 branches, the other being NB1. It’s owned and operated by YG Entertainment, and is always crowded with an extremely long line. Entry fee is slightly pricier at around 20,000KRW (with drink coupons), and the place attracts a young crowd probably because of its association with YGE. NB2 also plays great Hip Hop music – but it was extremely congested due to its popularity. However, NB2 is definitely a club to not miss, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed visiting – there is even reported sightings of YG artists who frequent the place!

Why you should go: YG Entertainment owned, good music, chance to see YG celebrities
Why you should avoid: Long lines to enter, crowded
Price Range: 10,000KRW-30,000KRW

Contact:
NB2
Seoul, Mapo-gu, Seokyo-Dong 362-4
09:00 pm ~ 06:00 am
+82-10-8541-1278, bananahyeon (Kakaotalk)

4. CLUB: Club Made, Itaewon

Club Made at Itaewon is the BEST club to be at if you would like a selection between Hip Hop and EDM, and is the best club in Itaewon. As you enter, you are greeted by a long bar in the middle of the club, where you can redeem your free drink tickets from paying the entrance fee. On each end of the bar, there are 2 different segments of the club that plays different music, and you can hop around each side to where you prefer to be. Made plays both great EDM and Hip Hop, and is also a place where there are more foreigners due to its location, known as a foreigner hangout. Made is also one of our go-to places for clubbing due to the variety it offers to our group with different music tastes. If I had only one club choice, it would be Made.

Why you should go: Has EDM and HipHop, good mix of foreigners and locals
Why you should avoid: 
Pricier, long waiting times to enter (30mins-1hour)
Price Range:
10,000KRW-30,000KRW

Contact:
Club Made
Seoul, Yongsan-Gu, Hannam Dong 737-32 (IP Boutique Hotel B1)
Thur-Sat 10:00 pm ~ 06:00 am
+82 10-9102-0985
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/madeitaewon/

5. BAR: 232, Itaewon

232 at Itaewon is a fancy bar with an amazing interior. Cushioned sofa chairs, wooden tables and vintage decoration all around makes for an amazing atmosphere. Drinks are not as cheap (characteristic of Itaewon), at about 12,000KRW onwards for a cocktail. However, it is worth coming for a drink or 2 to soak in the great atmosphere, and it is also quite a hidden spot with no tourists. It’s a good place to go with friends prior to hitting Made.

Why you should go: Great atmosphere and decor
Why you should avoid: 
Expensive
Price Range:
12,000KRW-30,000KRW

Contact:
232
Itaewon, Yongsan-gu, Seoul Seoul, Korea 04400
Thur-Sat 11:00 am ~ 02:30 am
+82 2-749-0232
Website: https://232seoul.tumblr.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/232sel/

6. BAR/CLUB: The Fountain, Itaewon

The Fountain is one of my favourite spots in Seoul. Upon the recommendation of one of my Korean friends, we went there from 1am-5am. It is a combination of bars on the side and a dance floor in the middle. The songs are more “old school” like Backstreet Boys, bringing you back to the 2000s. when I went, and the place has a constant line and crowd of both locals and foreigners.

There are 2 levels; the first being a large dance floor in the middle, and the second being a smaller dance floor on the second level. The Fountain is simply beautiful, and Instagram worthy from its entrance to its interior. Despite some negative reviews I’ve read online, it gave me a great experience with a friendly bartender and strict bouncers. Entrance check is thorough, only allowing me entry with a NRIC and not my Driving ID (Singapore). I also read online that they are pretty racist and disallowing of people of darker skin color or certain ethnicities, but it was not something I experienced.

Drinks are pricier (but still okay on a SG budget), but not unaffordable and worth paying for its great vibes, music and vast space. It’s a great place to pregame before entering a real club, but we loved it so much that we stayed here all the way. The Fountain is a refreshing change to the regular jammed packed clubs with loud EDM/Hip Hop, and is definitely a place you must not miss in Itaewon, or in Korea.

Why you should go: Amazing decoration, 2 dance floors, meet foreigners, 2000s Music
Why you should avoid: 
Expensive, overly strict bouncers, 2000s Music
Price Range:
12,000KRW-30,000KRW

Contact:
The Fountain
116-6 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
06:00 pm ~ 06:00 am
From Itaewon Station (line 6), take exit 2. Take the first left and walk to the end of the street, then turn left again. It’s on your right.

7. MY FAVOURITE BAR: Kodachaya, Hongdae

Kodachaya, located within walking distance from Sangsu Station (or Hongik University Station) is THE place to be for pre-drinks. With cheap alcohol and delicious food and multiple locations nation-wide, they have a unique self-service concept, where you can grab your own drinks from the fridges, making this place immensely popular. On top of that, a variety of Korean/Japanese food is offered in a rustic Japanese environment, making you feel like you’re in a different era, with a concept that is different from other bars.

As you enter, you are given an order tag (something like Ramen Champion’s concept) which you can use to order food and drink. Their signature dish, the kimchi fried rice with cheese and egg is a crowd-pleaser, leading to us ordering multiple of the same dish throughout our drinking session. They also offer a variety of food, from Japanese Sashimi to Korean Odeng.

Kodachaya also gives free bottled mineral water which you are free to take at any time, as much as you want. It also has a signature entrance that is reminiscent of a Subway station sign, making it stand out from the crowd. Its large seating capacity means no/short wait, despite it being constantly crowded. The freedom and flexibility Kodachaya gives, along with its warm atmosphere, good location, and tables catered to both big and small groups makes this place a huge hit for all groups of all ages to hang out in, and is my #1 favourite spot in Seoul that you CANNOT miss!

Why you should go: Take your own drinks, affordable and good food, great for all groups and ages, my favourite spot.
Why you should avoid: 

Price Range:
2,000KRW-15,000KRW

Contact:
Kodachaya
143-56 Sangsu-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
05:00 pm ~ 05:00 am
+82 2-3445-8884

Exit 2, Sangsu Station. Walk towards Hongik university (Paris baguette on your right). If you see Edya coffee across the road you are at the right spot. Stay on the same sidewalk and walk towards Hongik Univ towards Hollys Coffee (Kodachaya is beside).
Website: http://www.kodachaya.com/home/intro.html

8. BAR: Daddy J, Anam

Daddy J’s is a small and cosy bar located at Anam, near Korea University and is our first spot nightly because of its location near the dormitories, excellent service, facilities and low prices. Daddy J’s is not a place that tourists would know of or go to, simply because it is out of the way at Anam Station. Daddy J’s boasts cheap Hookah, cheap beer jugs and 1500KRW soju. They have a darts machine, a beer pong table and a Macbook where you can select your own music on YouTube. It is the first place that we went to get buzzed before heading to clubs/bars in Hongdae/Itaewon, and is a lowest-cost place in the list for drinks with friends. It is also decorated with a chalkboard surrounding the pub, allowing anyone to write on it. Tables are always readily available, and the place has a warm environment, welcoming to anyone, and a good place to meet people from Korea University.

Why you should go: Very cheap drinks and hookah, beer pong table, darts machine
Why you should avoid: 
Far, university area. Small. Smells like Hookah.
Price Range:
1,500KRW-10,000KRW

Contact:
Daddy J
Anam-dong, Incon-ro 28-Gil, Seoul. South Korea.
06:00 pm ~ 04:00 am(timing unsure, from memory)
+82 2-6397-1360

LPT: Respect This Man

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ALWAYS buy one of these (at any convenience store) after a night of drinking, as it helps IMMENSELY with hangovers. Koreans swear by it, and now, I too believe.

Bumping into Haha at Hongdae

There are many other bars and clubs that I went to in Korea, from Thursday Party to Club M2 etc., but the places in the list are my favourites, and are places that I would definitely visit again.

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Food In The Bay – USA VS Singapore (Part 1)

Food In The Bay – USA VS Singapore (Part 1)

 

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After hearing about all the good things about America, I carefully planned to visit San José for a month to thoroughly experience its food and sights, and also to visit my roommate from Korea University’s Summer Program who’s from San José. America is a wondrous place with a multitude of restaurants. Some took my breath away, whilst some of the restaurants made me wonder – how do they still exist? Here’s a breakdown of my experience, with Singapore’s food as a benchmark against what I’ve had in The Bay – as well as quick reviews of my impressions on the food I’ve had.

1. IN-N-OUT BURGER

In-N-Out Burger, California

In-N-Out is the icon of the West Coast, and one of the first things mentioned when talking about California. Located just beside the airport (a quick drive), In-N-Out was the first place I visited, and is also the place that I was so hyped about. From a $2.75 cheeseburger to a $3.90 double patty, In-N-Out is THE most affordable and value for money item in California. Using never frozen meat, freshly sliced potatoes and toasted buns, In-N-Out screams quality. I was so excited from lining up to holding the burger in my hands, and was almost shaking from finally visiting the legendary In-N-Out burger that everyone raved about. From the first bite, I was blown away – the buns were perfectly toasted giving a light crunch with each bite. Every patty was succulent and juicy, and you could taste the difference with every mouth. American cheese was melted between the beef patties, gluing the meat together, allowing for optimum efficiency in devouring the burger, which was inhaled in under a minute. It was accompanied by Animal Style fries from a freshly cut potato, and smothered in In-N-Out’s not-so-secret sauce with grilled onions, and completed with free flow soda, with options like Dr. Pepper, Cola etc.; common drinks found in almost every fast food restaurant in Cali. They also offer shakes, and you can order a Black & White, which is a famous and popular choice at Shake Shack. The vanilla/chocolate layered combo is fantastic, but I feel that Shake Shack has a slightly thicker shake compared to In-N-Out.

Customizations
In-N-Out also offers customization to any style or variation you’d like – no tomatoes, grilled onions, raw onions etc.
What I tried:
1. Patty, cheese, raw onion, tomato
2. Patty, cheese, raw onion
3. Patty, cheese, grilled onion
4. Patty, cheese, animal styled
My favourite variation ended up being option 4, the Animal Styled Burger, created with no additional charges. The Animal Styled Burger also seems to be something commonly ordered, with them knowing how to create it without any further instructions. It is a double double covered in their Animal Styled sauce (the same sauce used for their fries). In-N-Out ended up being my go-to snack, meal and overall favourite of the trip.

In-N-Out VS Shake Shack
Of course, no In-N-Out review can be complete without a comparison to Shake Shack. Among these, I tried Shake Shack first and was blown away. In-N-Out did not give me the same mind-blowing reaction, probably because it was so hyped up by my friends. Apart from Shake Shack’s potato buns, I generally feel that In-N-Out is a better choice. I went to Shake Shack in LA, and after multiple meals of In-N-Out, Shake Shack was no longer able to hold its crown.
Similarities:
1. Quality patties
2. Same cheese
3. Short wait for the burger, long lines to order
Differences:
There is fierce competition here.
1. Shake Shack’s 🏆 potato buns tastes significantly better and has a consistency which I prefer in comparison to In-N-Out’s grilled buns.
2. Shake Shack 🏆 is also more modern looking, with better advertising and accessibility with chains worldwide. In-N-Out keeps an “old school” look, consistent in every outlet.
3. Shake Shack 🏆 also offers a better shake and more options with their burgers, offering chicken as an option to people who cannot eat beef.
4. Price, price, price. In-N-Out 🏆 is simply insane value. The price you pay for a single burger can get you a whole meal at In-N-Out.
5. Shake Shack offers Crinkle Cut Fries, and In-N-Out does regular cut fries. However, both fries to me are still not as good as McDonalds.

Overall, despite strong competition from Shake Shack, both offer a decent burger, with marginal differences not worth the large price point difference. However with the quality and price considered, and with a pretty similar quality patty, In-N-Out🏆 is an easy win for me at $3.90 for a double double VS $7.45 for a double Shackburger. Writing this post actually gave me an intense craving, and I thoroughly understand why In-N-Out is synonymous with California.

Contact:
In-N-Out Millbrae
11 Rollins Rd, Millbrae, CA 94030, USA
10:30 am ~ 1:00 am
+1 800-786-1000
Website: http://www.in-n-out.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/innout/

2. CINNABON BAKERY

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Cinnabon, Great Mall, Milpitas

Cinnabon is a popular snack/bakery in USA, with its main rival being Auntie Anne’s in Great Mall. They make phenomenal cinnamon rolls, offered in various sizes. It was a refreshing change from the Auntie Anne pretzels that I’m used to, covered in cinnamon sugar. Cinnabon offers a warm, fragrant bun with sweet, sugary icing on top that makes a quick and delicious calorie-dense snack as we were shopping in the Great Mall. It also offered a sweet perfume to everyone within a 5-10M radius, providing a delicious scent to the mall. I remember being blown away by how good it was upon the first bite, and craved it once again the next day. It was definitely a refreshing change, but definitely something I would avoid eating too often due to its high sugar/calorie content.

Contact:
Cinnabon, Great Mall
175 Great Mall Dr, Milpitas, CA 95035, USA
10:00 am ~ 9:00 pm
+1 408-934-7118
Website: https://www.cinnabon.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cinnabon/

3. YARD HOUSE

Yard House, Santana Row

Yard House prides itself as being a restaurant/bar that offers the world’s biggest selection of draft beer. We went there on our first night, absolutely exhausted after the long flight. Yard House is primarily a beer place, offering an exhaustive menu, but with pretty average food. They have, however, great onion rings and beer. We ordered a Half Yard (pictured) and thoroughly enjoyed the beer. Yard House also provides a great atmosphere, with a busy crowd and TVs all around, making it a great place for socializing with friends and family.

Contact:
Yard House
300 Santana Row, San Jose, CA 95128, USA
11:00 am ~ 12:20 am
+1 408-934-7118
Website: https://www.yardhouse.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YardHouse/

4. COSTCO

Costco, Raleigh

Costco Wholesale, a membership-only wholesale grocery store offers AMAZING food and portions. At $1.50 per hotdog + drink (free refills), Costco delivers great value at low prices. I tried their hotdogs, pizza, ice cream and chicken bake. I’ve heard great things about Costco’s Kirkland brand, and it never failed to deliver in their quality food. Costco’s hotdog also easily beats everything I’ve had in Singapore. With a length about as long as my forearm, topped with onions and ketchup, the hotdog is juicy and absolutely delicious. Personally, it is one of the best hot dogs I’ve had – easily smashing Singapore’s IKEA’s hotdog to the ground. I’ve had it for too many meals – I loved it that much. I also devoured 2 hotdogs for lunch which left me extremely full. Costco also offered a great slice of pizza, which is about twice the size of a slice in Singapore. We also ordered cooked, cold shrimp on the side. It was sweet and at $13, gave a generous portion. Costco ended up being the to-go place after gym for us, or whenever we wanted to save money. Their food easily beat most food I’ve tried in America, surprising me with the quality, size and price.

Contact:
Costco Wholesale
6898 Raleigh Rd, San Jose, CA 95119, USA
10:00 am ~ 6/8:30 pm
+1 408-908-7929
Website: https://www.costco.com/warehouse-locations/san-jose-ca-148.html
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Costco/

5. TREATBOT

Treatbot, San Pedro Square

Homemade ice cream? I’m sold! Located in Downtown San Jose, Treatbot is an ice cream truck inside San Pedro square offering handmade ice cream. San Pedro square is also conveniently located with a 10 minute walk away from the SAP Stadium, and offers a variety of food and beer, with a great atmosphere to hang out in.
On the recommendation of our American friend, we visited Treatbot and was greeted with a long continuous line. Reaching at about 4pm, their most popular flavours were already sold out. I ordered the Chocolate Rain flavour, which is handmade chocolate ice cream with chunky chocolate chips. Their ice cream tastes amazing. It was not as good as Penny’s ice cream or Tinpot, but it is definitely one of the better ice cream options. They also offered a variety of ways to enjoy it, and I chose my ice cream to be wedged between 2 homemade chocolate chip cookies. The homemade ice cream + homemade chocolate chip cookies made an impressive combination. The warm cookies were great on its own – sweet, soft and starchy, while the ice cream was thick, creamy, chocolatey and flavourful. After finishing this deadly combination, I had to grab a bottle of water – but it was totally worth it. I only regret not having the more popular flavours, and will definitely return to try it again.

Contact:
Treatbot, San Pedro Square
100 N Almaden Ave, San Jose, CA 95110, USA
11:30 am ~ 10 pm
+1 408-548-7328
Website: https://treatbot.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/treatbot

6. THE HALAL GUYS

The Halal Guys, Plant Shopping Center

The Halal Guys offered a refreshing change to our usual meats and burgers that we had every other meal. As a Singaporean, I wanted to see how the American rendition of a Halal meal is like. I’ve also heard fantastic reviews about Halal Guys – how it used to be a food stand in New York, to an international franchise now – and how everyone speaks greatly about their legendary White Sauce. Even as someone who regularly eats Halal food in Singapore, The Halal Guys provided a tasty, filling meal with a generous portion of Turmeric rice, cabbage and tomatoes, a choice/mix of grilled beef/chicken covered with their white sauce and BBQ sauce, and topped with 2 pieces of gyros. It was one of the best meals I’ve had in America at its price point of $7-$8. The cabbage/tomato combination provided a sweet crunch with each mouth of rice, with the very tender meat providing an aromatic flavour, topped with the creamy white sauce and BBQ smell made for a stunning combination. It was so much so that we went out of the way thrice – to have that for supper and to even buy some for breakfast the next morning. The Halal Guys is such a simple conception, but provides such satisfaction at a low price point, and despite how it looks, tastes AMAZING. Daniel says that he always tries to have it once a week or whenever he’s in the vicinity – and I agree.

Contact:
The Halal Guys, Plant Shopping Center
81 Curtner Ave #20, San Jose, CA 95125, USA
11:00 am ~ 10 pm
+1 408-610-9471
Website: https://thehalalguys.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheHalalGuys/

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