Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Seoul day four

It’s our last full day in Seoul. Best make the most of it.

We’ve not indulged in a hotel breakfast yet. Not much point, really. We’d have to pay for it and it’s just as easy to nip to the shop and pick up bits and bobs. Especially as Andrew has the appetite of an anorexic sparrow in the mornings.

“This may sound weird, Andrew, but I could understand much more in Japan. The written stuff, I mean.”

“Me, too. That bit of Mandarin I learnt was dead handy.”

It’s odd, because Korean has a much more logical and simple system of writing. Alexei has even managed to learn the Japanese phonetic characters. They’re quite good at this language stuff, the kids. Though, being bilingual, they should be.

The kids have found a craft beer bar to visit. Well done them.

“It’s close to the Military museum.” Andrew informs me “We just have to go one stop further.”

That sounds easy enough.

It’s still like a hot afternoon in hell outside. Just as well that the metro stop is so close.

The metro is pretty modern, only dating from the 1980s. Which makes the size of the system all  the more impressive. It took getting on for 20 years to build the Nord-Zuid line in Amsterdam. And that only has half a dozen stations.

Like many modern systems, glass partitions and doors seal off the tracks. I suppose to prevent accidents and “incidents”, as they call them on the London Underground.

“Have you noticed the stickers on the doors, Dad.” Andrew asks, pointing at a sticker. “The Boycott Japan ones.”

Sure enough, there’s one on every door of the metro train.

“It must be official. You don’t see any graffiti here. And there’s one on every single door.”

Our destination is Namsam Chemistry. In an area evidently known as “Craft Valley”. As we’re walking there we realise why there might be some many craft beer places in this particular spot: it’s next to a huge US base. We spend some time walking past the walled site.

“There’s a craft beer place over there. But it isn’t open yet.” I remark, not very helpfully.

It’s still effing hot.

“Oh look, there’s a Belgian beer bar.”

“Dad, can you hurry up. And stop taking stupid photos.”

“At this rate we’ll have no photos to show you mum.”

“Just get on with it, Dad. I’m boiling hot.” Always the same story from Andrew: “I’m about to pass out from heat stroke, hurry up.”

Namsam Chemistry is up a bit of a hill. Which doesn’t help my walking pace. The kids have got quite a lead on me. By the time we spot the pub.

“What do you want to drink, kids?”

“I’ll have a cider.”

“Me, too.”

“That’s annoying.”

“What , Dad?”

“They describe it as “apple cider” on the menu. That’s tautology. The term is cider.”

“What the hell does it matter?” Alexei asks, with some irritation.

“It’s the principle of the thing.”

“You talk some real crap, at times.”

I opt for a Nam-Chem IPA.

“Going for the strongest one again, Dad.”

“Hah, that’s where you’re wrong. The Double IPA is stronger.” I feel so validated.

At around 6 euros for 14 oz, it’s not bad value.

“Have you noticed that, kids?”


“The prices for the beers miss off the last three zeroes. While the spirit prices are written out in full.”

The pub has the typical industrial-style interior beloved my craft beer bars the world over. Bare concrete walls, exposed ducts, hard, angular furniture. We're the first customers by the look of it, even though they've been open a couple of hours. When other punters do show up, most are women.

“How’s your cider?”

It's like English cider, dad."

My IPA which is pretty good. Judging by the name, it’s specially brewed for the pub. Or at least rebadged. The brewery seems to be Namsan-Pongdang.

Juice News Double IPA from Mysterlee is my next beer. Oh no. It’s a sludge beer. I should have guessed from the “juice” in the name.

“I thought you didn’t like beer that looks like fruit juice.”

“I don’t. I didn’t realise it would be a sludge beer.”

“Serves you right for ordering the strongest beer.”

My DIPA which isn’t very impressive, so I switch back to IPA.

Why is the door open and the air-conditioning on? That doesn’t seem very energy efficient.

There’s a weird nailed together screen for the video projector on the wall at the end. Showing music videos while totally different music plays on the stereo. Occasionally the two parts eerily match up.

“Time for one more, kids. What do you fancy?”

“I’ll have an IPA this time.” Andrew got a taste for IPA in the US last year. Alexei just sticks to cider.

I’m feeling peckish when we leave. “Either of you two hungry?”

“Not me.” Now there’s a surprise from Andrew.

“I am.”

“Let’s look for somewhere down here.” I suggest, pointing to an alley lined with restaurants.

It’s late afternoon and an odd time to eat. Quite a few of the restaurants look like they’re just closing. I guess to pause between lunch and dinner. We find a suitably ethnic looking place and park our arses. Thankfully they do have an English-language menu.

“how about sharing that.” I say to Alexei, pointing at a pork and squid combination.

“OK by me.”

“Pork and squid it is, then. With some soju for me. What about you , kids?”

Alexei opts for a beer. Andrew just scrounges some of my soju.

The waitress warns me that the dish is spicy. I'm English. I love me some spice. Alexei is cool with a bit of heat, too.

It's pretty effing good. And nowhere near too spicy for me. It comes with several little side dishes. One of which looks very much like spam fritters.

Andrew doesn’t eat, but he does criticise my eating technique. “Dad, me more careful when you eat.”

"Fuck off, Andrew, I'm the dad here." That’s starting to be my new catchphrase.

I saw on TV the other day that the tradition is to eat octopus while it's still moving. I guess that's why they have the live ones in tanks outside restaurants. Must say that I prefer my food to be immobile.

Despite being dusk, it’s still way too hot. It doesn’t ever seem to cool down.

Which is why we just shelter in the cool embrace of the hotel air conditioning. I need to finish off that soju as we’re travelling back to Japan tomorrow. I manage to drink with out a side order of nagging from Alexei. Now there’s a win.

Me and Andrew have been staying up well after midnight. Apart from last night as we needed to leave the hotel around 7 Am to catch our flight.

Namsan Chemistry
33 Hoenamu-ro,
Itaewon 2(i)-dong,
Tel: +82 2-797-2227

1 comment:

TheBeerThrillers said...

As always, another fantastic post. Seoul is a beautiful place. Visited it once, loved it. Love reading your blog. Thanks for sharing as always!