Midtown Happy Hour: Liquor Filled Watermelon at Pocha 32

If you like to eat, chances are you like to drink (read: a lot of you are freakin’ lushes), so I thought maybe it was time to introduce a happy hour column to the site.  Every week we’ll post about a different bar in Midtown that fits the Midtown Lunch mentality: unhealthy food, not lame (unless it’s lame in a cool way), and most importantly… cheap.  This week’s bar is Pocha, a Koreatown bar from Profiled Midtown Lunch’er Kate.  Not surprisingly the photos are kind of blurry…

Midtown Happy Hour: Pocha 32

I knew the first Midtown Lunch Happy Hour Post needed to be somewhere unusual- a hidden gem that perhaps was less familiar. As much as this post should be about value, it should also be about the unknown to a certain extent, right? After all, this site is about sidestepping typical Midtown- one of the best-trod sections of the world. If it included drinking out of a hollowed out fruit, even better!

My search led me to Koreatown, on the southern edge of the Midtown Lunch boundaries. I’ve been to a few bars around this area, yet none of them are as engaging as Pocha 32. A quick walk up one flight of steps leads you into the one room dive bar/eatery. The room is painted a forest green with fisherman’s nets and Christmas lights slung on all the walls and across the ceiling. On closer inspection the nets are heavily ornamented with pictures and mementos that customers have left from their visits. The nets on the ceiling are a constellation of soju caps… hundreds and hundreds of soju caps.

I went with my friend Carolyn, and in retrospect, maybe we should have gone with a much larger group. Carolyn and I started with the drink I’d heard so much about… the Watermelon Soju. What a marvelous thing; an entire halved and scooped out watermelon filled with chilled, slightly watered down watermelon soju which you ladle generously into drinking bowls. It could have been cloying but it somehow avoided the extreme and was a pleasure to drink it through. $24 is a little steep, until we realized it’s more a four person drink— in which case it works out to be only $6 a pop. They also had a short list of bottled beer (the usual suspects) for $4, which is totally reasonable. And I hear their soju selection is not half bad… if you don’t end up going with the watermelon. (But quite frankly, why wouldn’t you?)

On top of that, Pocha 32 is considered somewhat of a fast food joint. With $5 Kabobs and other snacks, there’s plenty of grease to fill your wasted little tummy. There is also a $10 menu of heavier fare, which includes mussel soup, spicy chicken feet, egg rolls, and fishcake soup. Carolyn and I got a dish with beef, mushrooms, carrots, and lots of other stuff in a savory/ salty broth. It was delicious and enough for four. As we ate (and drank from a watermelon) I knew that Zach would be proud…

THE + (What somebody who loves this place would say)

  • You love drinking out of hollowed out fruit.
  • You love drinking in quirky hideaway dives.
  • You love possibly being the only one who doesn’t speak the language.

THE – (What somebody who hates this place would say)

  • You don’t like having to be in a group larger than two to get the deal.
  • You prefer a large beer selection over a large soju selection.

Pocha 32, 15 W 32nd St. (btw. B’way+5th Ave)


  • This looks promising after a night of karaoke… mmmm… watermelon…

  • Didn’t get to say during your profile,Kate, but your really rather lovely.

  • “It could have been cloying but it somehow avoided the extreme and was a pleasure to drink it through.”

    ?cloyingly sweet? Or was it just cloying with you?

    Note: watermelon rind has a similar chemical as Viagra
    Just sayin’

  • Mama,mama….mama………for you no blue pill needed….just a bowl of chili guac a few beers…..maybe some happy days reruns…………Rudy heaven.

    Yes, i working late, and bloody bored.

  • Happy Days, yeah, not bad.
    But I’m actually obsessed with “Blacks Books” right now.You can tell what type of men I like.

  • Neurotic micks that shout alot? :)

  • and drunken misanthropes ;-)

  • Git outha my shoooouppp!!!!

    We’re closed

  • Hey Kate,

    Do they make Manhattans?

  • This place looks AMAZING!
    How is their scotch selection?

  • eh…i’m not into fruity drinks. bring on happy hours with good imported beer.

  • They put pork in the Glefidicht and Glenmorangie.

    Two of the most base Scots whisky’s of jockland…that are even so far and away above the “rye/bourbons” that chucky drinks himself and TingTong alseep with each night.

    Myself i prefer a peaty Glen Nevan from co.donegal.

    But chucky wouldn’t know this as he only converses online as his camper van picks up free wi-fi”Tingting…tingtong!! stop!” he cries.

    You call him Dr. Jones, Dollllll.

  • Mr. McBagel:

    I welcome you to my My Space page where I have posted photographs of our real estate holdings, as well as my musings on topics of interest to me.

  • Pocha is based on the food/style of the street carts and food stands in Korea, so don’t come here expecting fancy drinks: stick to the soju (watermelon is an automatic win), or if you’re feeling crazy and really want to do the whole street food feel, ask for makgeolli, this milky-colored rice-based alcohol that comes in this dirty looking teapot. Not a lot of non-Koreans seem to know about this place yet for drunken munchies, but their budae jigae (hot stew of spam, sausage, rice cakes, ramen, kimchi, etc.) TOTALLY hits the spot…

  • I just want to say that I love you , Kate. I’m in the process of rounding up four of my favorite ladies to go annihilate one of those watermelons.

  • Sarah, forgive me i missed your return.I was giving chucky lifestyle ideas….and offending everyone.

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    To clarify, Korean restaurants have one specialty, and it’s best to order that one dish. Yes, most Korean restaurants have a varied menu, but it would be a mistake to order anything else, because much better of that dish can be had elsewhere (except if you’re drunk on soju and thus really don’t care).

    Pocha 32′s specialty is the budae jjigae, the kochu jang-based stew that was created when after the war, very poor Koreans raided US Army garbage cans, and found Spam & hotdogs, American cheese, etc. and created this dish.

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