Singapore has been riding on the hallyu (K-wave) bandwagon for nearly half a decade now, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Over the past couple of years, Korean barbecue, fried chicken and hotpot restaurants, as well as Korean-fusion cuisine have become more ubiquitous. Streets like Tanjong Pagar Road are saturated with Korean eateries at every corner, making for easy pickings should you want to satisfy yourself with some bulgogi or army stew.
Korean bars, on the flipside, remain a less prominent presence. While you can grab a bottle or two of soju at any Korean restaurant worth its kimchi, finding a dedicated bar that serves varieties of Korean-style drinks can be a challenge. We’ve overcome that hurdle for you by locating a handful of our favourite K-bars in town.
Ranging from fusion drinks to buzzy dive pubs, here are the best Korean bars in Singapore you should visit.
Joo Bar has carved out a space for itself as not only one of the pioneering Korean bars, but one that brews its own makgeolli. Makgeolli is a rice wine mixed with nuruk, a fermentation starter that gives it its milky colour. Joo Bar sells makgeolli in a variety of flavours, alongside innovative cocktails like a sojurita, where a soju margarita is topped with a bottle of Hite beer.
Accompanying the drinks on the menu is a decent range of Korean snacks such as fried chicken wings, pork belly and other grilled meats. It’s a fantastic place to experience mod-Korean fare and house-brewed makgeolli, which isn’t something you find easily in Singapore.
Joo Bar, 5 Tan Quee Lan Street, Singapore 188094, +65 8138 1628
Hansul is the place to be if you want to sample a broad range of Korean liquor. It’s got over 60 sojus, makgeollis, cheongjus, cocktails and beers on the menu, all imported from different parts of Korea. There’s also a DIY element to drinking at Hansul, as each table is outfitted with a hwaro grill to cook skewered food on. The charcoal imparts a rich, smoky char to all the bites, making it a great alternative to the usual line-up of fried bar snacks.
Hansul Korean Dining Bar, 21 Tanjong Pagar Road, #01-05, Singapore 0884444, +65 6906 7088.
When Vatos Urban Tacos opened in Korea, it stirred up massive fanfare, and soon became touted as the hottest restaurant in Korea. The place serves Korean-Mexican fusion cuisine, which is a pretty refreshing introduction to rival the more traditional K-cuisine offerings we’re so used to here.
Order yourself some kimchi carnitas fries, design your own burrito, and cap it off with the eatery’s signature makgeolitas. This infusion of tequila and makgeolli is offered in seven different fruity flavours, which seem to go down easy, but are really very potent. Vatos also serves beers from select microbreweries.
Vatos Urban Tacos, South Beach Quarter, 36 Beach Road, Singapore 189677, +65 6385 6010
If casual dive bars are more your gig, then make Wa Bar a pit stop the next time you’re in Tanjong Pagar. The relaxed bar is extremely spacious, with both indoor and alfresco seating options. Find yourself grooving to a playlist of K-pop tunes as you knock back bottles of soju and Korean draught beers. On the menu is a mix of Western and Korean food, with plenty of classic bar bites to keep you fuelled.
Wa Bar, 64 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088483, +65 6224 7073