Cycle 14 – Item 43
17 (Fri) February 2023
-Jongro-2-ga, Jongro, Seoul, Republic of Korea-
with BP, EE, D
Impossible to believe that the pojang macha – a traditional Korean tent bar – has been a featured venue once in GMTD history, during Cycle 1 (see 1.272 Deep-Fried Quail). In Cycle 4, a pojang macha was mentioned briefly at the tail end of an extended post covering a pub crawl (see 4.227 Köttbullar med Lingonsylt). Neither post showed photos of the establishments. GMTD has provided detailed coverage of similar operations, such as street carts (see for example 13.003 Ddeokbokki), night market stalls (see for example 4.234 Dewji Galbi), brick-and-mortar equivalents (see for example (4.215 Wonjo Bindae Ddeok), but never the real deal. Which is odd, in light of my appreciation for food served in drinking holes – the pojang macha being the OG of them all.
In the 13 years since, the tent bars have become virtually extinct in Seoul. Legally, they’re only allowed to operate in a handful of neighborhoods, mostly in the back alleys of Jongro district – the oldest part of the city.
BP, who’s headed back to Manila next week, requested that I take her to a pojang macha for our final meal together (see most recently 13.037 Chicken Inasal (+ Beef Bone Bulalo)). Apparently, she’s been wanting to try one, having seen them in Korean dramas, where characters are often depicted drowning their sorrows in soju at a pojang macha.
These days, I would seem to visit such places only when hosting tourists – 3 of the 5 posts cited in opening paragraph include Number One Swedish Fan GK.
Was a time, at the height of my roaring twenties, when I would often carouse into the wee hours, I was a frequent patron of the pojang macha, the final stop of a long night, the only place open at dawn. Now, I can’t remember the last time I stayed out past 10pm – probably 10 years ago, with GK (see above).
The food at any given pojang macha is predictable: mostly protein-based dishes – including “exotic” items like chicken gizzards, hearts, feet – either in the form of a stir-fry or stew, often spicy.
Odol Bbyeo (오돌뼈) is a Korean dish. Pork cartilage (odol bbyeo) – which doesn’t really taste like much, just crumbly/crunchy in texture – cut into small pieces, stir-fried with vegetables in a spicy sauce. A classic anju, paired nicely with beer and/or soju.
I don’t know if I’ve encountered odol byeo outside of a pojang macha.
(See also HANSIK)
(See also RESTAURANTS IN KOREA)