Bar Sleuth: Itaewon’s home for drinks, dancing and beautiful people
ITAEWON, South Korea — It’s about 8 p.m. on a Thursday night when I’m faced with a math problem that’s sure to keep me up at night.
It goes like this: 17 women divided by four men equals 10 years too late.
Welcome to “Ladies Night” at Helios Pub and Grill, arguably the most popular dance joint/meat market in the raucous party district near the U.S. Army’s Yongsan Garrison.
Searching for another bar to profile for this column, I left the warm comfort of a home with a wife and two kids to find the right place for you younger single folks to party. And find it I did, albeit 10 years too late for a married guy in his mid-30s.
With a 4-to-1 woman-man ratio — at least early in the night — and a women-drink-for-free policy from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., Helios seems like a wonderful place to spend a Thursday evening. If you’re young, that is. And single. And relatively good looking.
But reality quickly set in and the ratio seemed to drop every 30 minutes. When the rap/dance music started blaring around 10 p.m., the dance floor was packed with guys and girls. But, per Korean custom, most of the girls were dancing with girls.
Helios offers more than the normal Itaewon bar does as far as food and drink. If you’re just back from that yearlong Iraq deployment and the money is burning a hole in your pocket, you can always spring for the $1,100 bottle of 30-year-old Ballantine Scotch whisky. And a bottle of Bacardi 151 will run you about $140.
But if you’re limping along until next payday, the draft beer is $3. And the women’s free-drink menu includes screwdrivers, draft beer, rum and Coke, vodka pineapple, gin and tonic, vodka and tonic and Tom Collins.
If you’re hungry, you can find everything from nachos, chicken wings and spicy chili shrimp appetizers to steamed mussels, panfried scallops with watercress and steak dinners. The food is on the pricier side — my spicy shrimp appetizer was about $18 — but the portions were generous and it was actually pretty good.
If you’ve tried Helios on the weekend and were turned off because of the crowds, give Ladies Night a shot.
As always, if you drink, do so responsibly. Don’t drink and drive.
Itaewon, South Korea
Rating: Six beers out of a six pack!
Drink prices: Range from the $3 South Korean draft beer to outrageously priced bottles of alcohol.
Food: Tasty and plenty to chose from. The menu offers greasy bar snacks like french fries and chicken wings. But the meals — ranging from pasta to pizza to steak — are worth the price.
Entertainment: Dance music.
Clientele: You’ll see plenty of military packing the place on Friday and Saturday nights. On Thursday’s Ladies Night, plenty of ladies!
Location: Located on the main strip that runs through Itaewon. If you’re walking from Yongsan Garrison, it’s on the left side of the street, about one block past the Hamilton Hotel. Look up — it’s on the second floor.