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6 January 2004
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Korea Life Blog - Anju

Has this ever happened to you? You walk into a bar, sit down and order drinks only to be to told you have to order side dishes or leave? Probably not unless you've been in Korea. These over priced side dishes are called anju, a word that strikes disgust into the hearts of foreigners. The dishes range from dried squid to big fruit platters (I really don't understand eating fruit with beer) to fried cheesesticks. Koreans like to eat food with their drinks, which is fine, but to refuse to serve people who aren't hungry and only want drinks seems pretty stupid, especially when the place is practically dead and even if you offer to sit at the bar.

I remember one time in Ulsan a gang of about ten of us went into this "western" style bar. I think it was called Arizona Bar. Anyway, the place was practically empty. We sat down and started to order bottles of beer. Then the owner said we had to order two side dishes. Having just come from a kalbi dinner, we said we were full and wouldn't like anything. He said we had to order anju, no option. We refused and incredibly he let us all leave. Rather than forgo the side dishes, not only did he lose possibly a lot of money from drinks, he let us leave angry and lost any chance of us returning as repeat customers. Advertising yourself as a western bar and then upsetting a large group of foreigners in a small city is just bad business sense.

Walking around areas like Sinchon, it becomes a guessing game. If we go here do we have to order anju? I'm not hungry, man - I just want beers. Well, let's try it. Then walking all the way up to the third floor and then all the way back out minutes later to try another bar.

An example of anju at a bar in Sinchon. For breaded and fried potato sticks, 3 small cheesesticks, and a skimpy salad: 10,000 won. Oh well, it wasn't too bad this time as we were a little hungry. But the place was mostly empty and to have let us leave because we wouldn't order food seems silly.

As you can see, the name of the bar is Oregon Trail which clearly would indicate to anyone that they are a foreign styled bar. But they make you buy anju and they play loud and annoying Korean pop music. After awhile you come to get used to this kind of thing.

After we finished we headed to a pretty cool little hip hop bar that Julie knew about. I took a few pictures and will post them sometime during the week.

Update: Added section 17 to Geoje-do Part 5 section. (and edited this morning...)


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