(Author’s Note: This post was originally published at my personal blog in October 2005 and has been slightly edited for inclusion here.)
I recently went to this “Hooters” rip-off sports bar/restaurant called “Better Than Beer” in Seoul’s Itaewon district. Better Than Beer is a restaurant chain that has several locations in Seoul. I’ve been meaning to check out one (or all) for some time, as their ads feature very eye-catching ladies. I guess the name implies the girls there are better than beer, even though there was a Korean movie entitled Seven Reasons Why Beer Is Better Than My Lover (맥주가 애인보다 좋은 일곱가지이요).
Not that I expected to see her, but the White girl featured at the BTB website and in their billboard ads doesn’t really work at any of the franchises and probably never has. She’s just a model. (Probably Russian, since most of the Caucasian girls you’d see in ads for Korean businesses are Russian ladies in Korea on work visas.) There were three Korean servers there, known as “Beer Girls,” wearing outfits very similar to the ones the Hooters girls do, as you can see by Helen’s outfit at right.
Runa (with me at left) said she was 176cm tall. She was considerably taller than the average Korean lady but maybe 176cm was a slight exaggeration, because, as you can see, I’m crouching down a quite a bit here to be more even with her. But then again; I’m 190cm tall and she wasn’t wearing heels. Still, I’d say she was a good 173cm.
All the ladies were very friendly, spoke passable to good English and were very willing to take a photo with me. However, the only camera that the management allows photos with or of the girls to be taken with is their own Polaroid. The photos from which they charge 2,000 won (just under two bucks) each. I guess they started doing that after getting numerous requests from customers for photos with the girls and decided to take advantage of that and cash in. Either that or someone in management got the idea after visiting a strip club in the States and saw a well-know porno star or stroke magazine model charging her drooling fans twenty bucks a pop for Polaroid pics with her. (Maybe it’s even more now. It has been a while.) At any rate, 2,000 won was a very reasonable fee since it just covers the cost of the film. I’m sure they could easily get more for photos with the the lovely Beer Girls.
Ari (bottom left), spoke the best English of the three ladies who were on duty at the time, (she said it was her major, and I think I know why) and tried to interest me in some blackjack after my meal (There was a table there, and she was quite skillfully dealing.), but gambling is definitely not one of my vices, so I passed on that.
So, to give Better Than Beer a quick review; the food was pretty good, and not overpriced. Besides being obviously eye-pleasing, the service was enthusiastic and excellent, albeit the girls seemed very expectant of tips, which isn’t customary in Korea. Another reason I suspect someone in management had visited the States and took note of what is customary there, as these girls were made hip to the Western custom of tipping and how much they can supplement their income by the tips they can expect to get from the mostly Western men who patronize BTB. I didn’t see any women or Korean men (other than staff) while I was there, which wasn’t surprising.
Also bear in mind; the girls are waitresses (or I guess term these days is “servers”) just like at Hooters, TGIFriday’s, etc., so don’t expect them to sit and drink with you or have “bar fines” you can pay to take them out. (You can find those kind of “servers” just a short walk down and across the street from the Itaewon BTB) Hence; I didn’t get a chance to actually taste the girls, so I can’t say whether or not they were actually better than beer, but they definitely made an excellent compliment to beer. Better Than Beer is definitely a place for any red-blooded Western male to check out while in Korea.