Prince HOF in Jackson Heights report (long)
Prince Hof - Broadway and 75th in Jackson Heights (follow the signs for the Q33 bus to Laguardia Airport and you'll find it) - it's across the street from a large Chinese supermarket (Pacific somthing...)
I had posted last week about info on the Prince Hof in Jackson Heights and a number of people had expressed some interest in this (and just what a Hof was in general).
First off - the Korean language seems to have a bit of trouble with words for things such as gardens, parks, etc. - hence the use of the german word hof. Hence, a Korean Hof is essentially a German beer hall (much in the same sense that Zum Schneider in Alphabet City is a beer garden).
I was actually surprised by this place, being frequented almost solely by early-20 something Korean kids having quiet conversations. The music ranged from 80's dance classics to current K-Pop staples. The place was quite dimly lit with a latticeboard woven with fake ivy as the ceiling. (it sounds cheesy, but it worked).
Anyways - the first thing we noticed is that they serve pitchers of beer the same way I saw them served in Busan and Daegu, South Korea, this past summer - in a large plastic pitcher with dry ice in it to keep it cold. To top it off, the pitchers contained LEDs that illuminated the beer, changing colors every 15 seconds or so. This would've been great, except the only beer on tap is Budweiser. Korean beers such as OB Lager, Cass, and Hite are available by the bottle.
The main thing you'll want to drink here, though, is the flavored sojus. Soju is a Korean vodka-like drink of about 23% alcohol and distilled from a number of things (grains, sweet potatoes, etc.). Good soju, at least in my opinion, is really smooth and has a nice taste to it. (For home experimenters - I recommend buying a bottle of Green soju - brand not color - and cutting up half a cucumber and letting it steep in the bottle for a couple of days before drinking). Anyways, here they offered a couple of varieties - the most prevalent being Jinro. Also available were the flavored sojus, including lemon and apple. The lemon one was fantastic, reminiscent of the great British carbonated lemonades like R. H. Whites, but with a heft alcoholic kick. These cost around $18 a decanter, which appeared to be around 600-750mL.
They also had an extensive menu, thought it is entirely written in hangeul. Some of our neighbors had some interesting looking dishes, one which appeared to be a milky stew with pork, another a wonderful looking fruit bowl with half a pineapple and some melon-like fruit on it. In Korea, eating and drinking go hand in hand, and if we hadn't just come from the Jackson Diner, we would've figured out something to order. Only thing I recognized on the menu was mandoo guk, which is a dumpling soup.
The staff was very nice, though only one of six spoke any English. A 'kamsa hamnida' - a polite thank you - here and there will get you far - I don't think this place gets too many non-Koreans.
We also tried a sojubang called, of all things, Sojoobong, further down Roosevelt, across from Chonghap Market (good place to pick up Chilsung cider and a Korean ginseng-rose water soap). Bottles of soju were $15 and we weren't made to feel too welcome. It's equal parts bar and 'hostess-bar' - where for a nominal fee you can have a woman sing karaoke for you and feed you popcorn. I'd avoid this place and, as no-one spoke English, it'll be pretty easy to do. But they did like our rendition of Hey Jude. (There's a true blooded noraebang across the street, so if you feel like karaoke - go there.)
Eventually I'll make my way out to some of them on Northern Blvd. in the 160s/170s that I heard about here, but for now, the Prince Hof will be a decent standard.
After reading your post I went by the mystery Korean place on Queens Blvds at 45th or 44th street and sure enough, it says Hofe. The name is "Blue Skies", not "Blue Sky" as I had posted earlier. There is an image of an old 78 on the awning, so I wonder if the place is named after the song made famous by Bing Crosby....
Hey i thought you said that report was going to be long??? j/k
thanks for the report. since you didnt try any food i still wonder about the place. the flavored sojus seem to have really caught on in the last 6 months. recently i've seen lots of sign advertising what seems to be green tea soju so that is next on my list to try.
Being the sober type that I am it has taken a while before I indulged (and I did so purely in the spirit of research). I've noticed one brand of soju around Queens that claims to contain green tea extract. I don't recall the name exactly, but it has the chinese character for mountain on the bottle. So I think it is Sansoju:
We compared it to the commonly seen soju: yellow label Jinro.
Results of the tasting? The green tea extract one we found to be smoother and easier going down. Don't know how much the green tea affected that or it may just be the fact that the tea extract diluted the alchohol down to 22% from the 24% for Jinro. I am no expert and don't plan to become one.
Those wishing to do further research can look at the attached link which gives some clue at to the variety of soju available in Korea. The link also includes affects of alcholol based on % in blood. It does not say how much soju is necessary to reach each stage.
The only HOF I've been to is a very popular one in Bayside called something like New York Club or something like that on Francis Lewis Blvd, just south of Northern Blvd. The space is enormous with a large sleek bar in the center dividing the space up, and many nooks for larger groups. Strangely, the young Koreans I was out with were all drinking pitchers of Bud, served in a 3-ft high cylindrical glass container with a spout at the bottom -- a pretty cool beer delivery device. When they weren't polishing off these nifty pitchers, they were going for the sochu drinks (They all agreed that ordering regular mixed drinks at Korean bars is a mistake). We didn't order much food besides typical Korean bar snack-y plates, which include dried cuttlefish and seaweed, among other things. The menu was a bit over-the-top with dessert items called "cassanova's viagra" and other such whimsical names. I don't remember much else about the menu, but man, nothin' like hanging out with a dozen drunk people, whatever the cultural context. Of course, a number of us ended up at a Karaoke club somewhere on Northern Blvd until sunup. It's funny how things like lyrics to Journey songs could be so accessible in your memory, even though it's been decades since I last thought of 'em. Who knew?