When eating in North Philly's authentic Seoul-fired barbecues and noodle shops, you can drink like a Korean, too. Hite is the classic Korean choice for beer, a simple, crisp lager that will quench a kimchi-spiced fire.
But if you're settling in for a longer meal with friends, followed by a rousing bout of karaoke, nothing sets the tone like soju rice liquor. Distilled in Korea since it was introduced by Mongol invaders in the 13th century, soju - which can also be made from sweet potatoes, barley or wheat - packs a stronger punch than sake. But, at 20 to 45 percent alcohol, it's still mellower than Western vodkas. And several of the good, inexpensive sojus I tasted at Everyday Good House were addictively smooth. My favorite was this Chunyon Yahk Sog ($14.95), a rice brew softened by 14 percent wheat, that had a buttery texture and light, fruity sweetness.
Kon bae! (Now you can toast in Korean, too.)
- Craig LaBan