Korean Anju

From Soju to Beer: Must-Try Anju for Your Next Korean Night Out


Time to read 4 min

Have you ever had a drink with a Korean friend? YouTuber @Tressuni, who reviews Korean dramas and culture, created a popular short video that highlights the differences between American and Korean drinking cultures. In her video, American friends are shown chatting with glasses of alcohol in hand, while Korean friends are surrounded by a table full of food, with no alcohol in sight. The video ends with a poignant question that sums up the cultural contrast:

"Are you Eating or Drinking?"

Beyond Kimchi: Exploring the Delicious World of Korean Anju

In Korea, the social dynamic around drinking is quite unique, embedded in what is known as 'hek culture.' Koreans love to gather, sing, share delicious food, and spread positive energy, or 'heung.' This communal spirit extends to their drinking habits, which are vastly different from those in the United States.

When I first moved to the US, I visited Whole Foods for evening groceries and was surprised to find a bar-like area where people enjoyed food and drinks. Women were sipping wine and checking their phones next to their shopping carts, and men were watching basketball with beers. This casual, almost incidental drinking was very different from what I knew in Korea, where 'sulsang'—sharing food paired with alcohol—is the norm.

In Korea, drinking alcohol without complementary food is almost unthinkable and often viewed negatively. Drinking is a social activity meant to be enjoyed with others, accompanied by snacks to enhance the experience.

Anju Essentials: Top Korean Anju (Bar Snacks) parings

Just like French fries and ketchup, certain foods are traditionally paired with alcohol in Korea. These pairings are not random but stem from cultural practices that enhance the drinking experience.

Makgeolli and Pajeon

On a rainy day, Koreans often enjoy pajeon, a savory pancake, with makgeolli, a traditional rice wine. The combination of the oily, crispy pancake and the slightly sweet, milky drink is a beloved tradition that warms both body and spirit.


While beer is not a traditional Korean beverage, it has become a favorite, especially among younger people. Beer enhances the enjoyment of appetizers, or 'anju,' like fried chicken, grilled squid, and tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes). These combinations make beer a go-to drink for casual gatherings.


There's a saying: "Life is bitter, soju is sweet." Though soju has a bitter taste, it pales in comparison to the complexities of life. This popular spirit pairs wonderfully with various dishes, especially cold broth dishes or grilled pork belly, creating a balance that delights the palate.

Korean Bars (Jujum)

Image Source : Tudari

In Korean dramas, characters often grab a drink and a bite to eat after work. These places, open late, are similar to American street food spots but with a focus on pairing food with drinks. Chicken joints are particularly popular, and "Chimak hal?" (Chicken and beer) is a comforting phrase for those looking to unwind after a long day.

There are also places called 'jujum,' where you can drink alcohol while enjoying a variety of snacks. One famous franchise is Tudari, which has been around for 38 years and offers skewers with alcohol for as low as 200 won.

Taste Korean Snacks at Home

Korean snacks, traditionally paired with soju and various beers, are now easy to prepare at home. Here are three quick and easy anju recipes that capture the essence of Korean drinking snacks and can be made in less than 10 minutes:


Tteokbokki is the rising K-food trend you’ve got to try! Have you experienced the vibrant flavors of Tudari's Tteokbokki yet? It's a delightful mix of sweet and spicy notes enveloped in Tudari's special sauce. This popular dish combines chewy rice cakes and hearty udon noodles, offering a fulfilling and cost-effective meal option. Perfect for quick snacks or serving unexpected guests, Tudari Tteokbokki brings the authentic taste of a beloved Korean eatery right into your home. You’ve got to give it a go!


From the beloved skewer haven of Tudari, comes another captivating dish to tantalize your taste buds—Signature Kimchi Udon. Celebrated nationwide, Tudari enhances its traditional offerings with this uniquely flavored udon, combining the zest of kimchi with a rich broth of katsuo and kelp extract.


Dive into the heart of Korean culinary tradition with Tudari's Spicy Fish Cake and Stew (Pot Eomuk). This popular dish is a staple at Tudari, a pub renowned for its rich history and deep connection to Korea's cultural heritage. Crafted from a long-standing recipe, this stew is sure to evoke cherished memories with every spoonful.

Whether you prefer the casual American style of drinking or the communal Korean tradition of pairing food with drinks, understanding these cultural nuances can enrich your social experiences. So next time you're out with friends, consider asking yourself: "Do you want drinking or eating?

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