The Hand and Apple
Where to drink apple cider
About Even the latest GPS apps can leave you in the lurch when trying to find this speakeasy-style bar. At the Nonhyeon-dong branch, there’s no sign outside and the large building itself reveals no trace of the hip bar hidden within. One of the only bars to specialize in single malt whisky and craft beer in Korea and the only bar of its kind in the Gangnam area, it’s “hops” for the beer and “scotch” for the whisky. The vibe… Who knew beer could be so upscale? While beers prices hover around 10,000 won, the atmosphere, with its classic interior and dark finish, is an undeniable value-added plus. Go when the weather’s good for extra seating space—the bar’s a lot more crowded when the weather’s bad because a lot of Gangnam beer-lovers don’t want to trek up to the Itaewon area. (P.S. For those north of the river, they have an equally fabulous bar in a Gwanghwamun hanok.)
One of the owners cures the meats and then slaves away at the smoker slowly cooking the brisket and pulled pork over low temperatures for around ten hours. His efforts result in a tender brisket with burnt ends just pink around the edges with that coveted smoke ring and well done in the center. Served 200 grams at a time, the taste of the four lean and fat slices leave little room for dissatisfaction. Another talked about meat on the list is the lemon and herb marinated boneless chicken leg. One order means two leg quarters at a time and as far as poultry served American style in Seoul, this chicken is by far one of the juiciest. For extra flavor, ask for either the spicy mango or raspberry chipotle sauce. Although quite tasty and creative in its own right, traditionalists might prefer the tang of the more conventional barbecue sauces at Linus’.
The Vatos success story has become the stuff of legend, from their beginnings as a Kickstarter project to their current status as the Korean-Mexican cuisine powerhouse in Korea with four branches open in Seoul. The founders, Korean-Americans who hail from LA and Texas, generally avoid the term “fusion”—they grew up with the diverse flavors that meet on the Vatos menu: galbi short rib tacos, kimchi carnitas fries (you must not leave without ordering this), and the makgeollita, a margarita made with Korean rice ale (careful, it packs a punch). Make a reservation if possible—even on a rainy, winter Monday evening, the wait can still be 30 minutes. We recommend holding out: those kimchi carnitas fries are worth it.
12, Itaewon-ro 27ga-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul.
4, Seongsuil-ro 4-gil, Seongdong-gu, Seoul