What in the world is ‘Makguli’?

One of the things I love most about Toronto is that you never have to go very far to experiment with new cuisines and cultures. On a blustery and cold Friday evening, along with some work friends, we ventured to Toronto’s very own Korea Town.

“K-town” as it is typically known by locals is a predominately Korean neighbourhood on Bloor Street extending between Bathurst and Christie Streets. Here, one will find an overabundance of authentic Korean dishes, specialty grocery items and much more.

We had gone to Tofu Village, a popular restaurant that specializes in its Soon Tofu Soup (Soon Du Bu Jigae) and I had been there a few times before to vouch for its excellent food.

I ordered the beef tofu soup which was served on the table in its original cooking vessel where the silken tofu and beef

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Soon Tofu Soup – Photo by Inayat

was bubbling away in a spicy broth. In a customary Korean way, it was served alongside an array of accompaniments such as kimchi, pickled ginger, tofu with black sesame and a raw egg to crack atop the boiling soup.

However, the highlight of the evening was not just the scrumptious food. Based on a recommendation from a co-worker who had recently returned from an eventful trip from Korea, here was my first contact with “Makguli”.  An alcoholic fermented rice drink that is native to Korea.

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“Makguli” – Photo by: Shannon

Among rice-based liqueurs, I had tried Korean Soju, Japanese Sake but had never heard of this unique concoction called Makguli. I didn’t particularly enjoy the taste but I am glad I got to try something new!

As someone who didn’t know much about the origins of the drink (also spelled in different ways such as “makgeolli”) I decided to do some research about its origins and learned it was historically consumed by Korea’s farming population as a substitute for food during economic hardships.

Check out this interesting article I came across which elaborates on the drink if you want learn more. Here is a snippet from the article:

“Better known nowadays as makgeolli (meaning “roughly strained”),  this unfiltered rice wine is Korea’s oldest liquor. Made from nothing more than fermented rice, yeast, and water, makgeolli typically contains 6 to 8 percent alcohol, is often milky and semi-sweet, and slightly fizzy from the fermentation process.”

It was quite expensive for its low alcohol content and priced at $16.99 at the Tofu Village, but this is likely because it’s an import. Though if you are feeling especially ambitious, here is a video on how to make your own at home!


What is the most unique (or memorable) drink you have ever tried? I would love to know in the comment box.


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