From setting the mood to helping settle your stomach, “anju” serves a vital role in  South Korean drinking culture. Anju or 안주 refers to food typically consumed with alcohol similar to western ‘pub food’. While anju is typically considered shareable appetizer-sized dishes, this tradition has since spread to main dishes as well. In this list, we’ll break down the popular top 5 combinations of alcohol & food meant to complement the flavor of their paired beverage.

  1. Chimaek (Chicken & Beer)
  2. Pollack & Beer
  3. Samgyupsal & Soju
  4. Hwe & Soju
  5. Jeon & Makgeoli

1. Chimaek (Chicken & Beer)


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The combination of chicken and beer, known as “치맥” (chimaek) in Korean, is extremely popular in South Korea and has become a cultural phenomenon thanks to its constant presence in Korean entertainment media. Fried chicken, particularly crispy and seasoned varieties like Korean fried chicken, pairs exceptionally well with the crisp, slightly bitter taste of beer. The salty and savory flavors of the chicken complement the refreshing qualities of beer, creating a delightful experience. Chimaek is also the perfect meal to share with friends as it’s easy to share and easy to find almost anywhere in Korea.

Experience Korea’s favorite combo for yourself at the Incheon Chicken & Beer Party!

2. Nogari & Beer


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Nogari (노가리) refers to small dried fish, typically young pollock or whiting, that are deep-fried to a crisp texture and seasoned with salt. Not to mention, the combination of salt and crunch makes it an addictive snack to enjoy with a glass of beer. Although nogari has been a popular drinking snack for generations in Korea, it has recently seen a revival as a trendy course with the popularity of vintage nostalgia in Euljiro.

Check out this and other delicious night-time eat in Euljiro on this Night Food Tour in Euljiro, Seoul

3. Samgyupsal & Soju


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Drinking soju with samgyupsal is deeply ingrained in Korean dining and drinking culture. And thanks to its relatively inexpensive price tag, soju and samgyupsal is a popular choice for gatherings with friends, family, or colleagues. Soju has a clean taste that helps cut through the rich, fatty flavor of grilled pork belly.

Discover the best samgyupsal restaurants & more in Gangnam with a local guide on the Seoul Food & Nightlife tour!

4. Hwe & Soju


Most popular in port cities like Busan, the combination of Korean sashimi or hwe and soju is a perfect balance of light but filling. The mild sweetness of soju can enhance the delicate taste of the fish without overpowering it thanks to its clean finish. This combo is especially perfect for the warm and humid summer months in Korea.

Check out these tours to find the freshest fish to go with your soju at a local fish market! 

5. Jeon & Makgeolli

Traditionally makgeolli is best served cold in a small metal or ceramic bowl and is most commonly enjoyed with another farmer’s favorite, Korean jeon or fried pancakes. It is said that the hiss of the jeon frying in a pan sounds just like the pitter-patter of rain on a tin roof, and therefore the delicious combo is nearly irresistible on rainy days.

Learn more about the different kinds of Makgeolli and where to try them in Seoul on our blog here

Don’t want to try alone? Check out these Makgeolli tasting tours:

Discover your favorite flavor with these Makgeolli making classes:

Find the latest & trendiest things to do in South Korea, on  Trazy.comKorea’s #1 Travel Shop!

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