Hail and Farewell gatherings are a long-standing tradition in the military to welcome Soldiers just coming into the unit and say “farewell” to those who are leaving. The Army doesn’t have a prescribed ceremony or format for Hail and Farewells, it is up to each unit to decide how often to have them and what they will be composed of.
The brigade I am leaving tried to have them every other month or so, so there was never too many being hailed or farewelled. Coming up on PCS season, however, there are a lot more changes, so they started farewelling people farther away from their actual departure than normally would be done. I was farewelled a full three months before I was scheduled to leave!
This Hail and Farewell was held at a massive buffet that had a variety of Korean, Chinese, Western and all sorts of types of food to include breads, fruits and desserts. There was too much to chose from, but it all looked good. Of course, one of the criteria for picking the location is that they have a meeting room so that we can be separated from the rest of the restaurant guests.
On a recent visit to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, I went with one of my battalion chaplains and a visiting chaplain into “The Ville” to eat lunch at a restaurant called Braai Republic (down the main road of “The Ville” a couple of blocks, on the left then go to the 2nd floor). The battalion chaplain who was our guide said that it appeals to Americans because it’s a “meat and potatoes” restaurant (which appeals to me!) though the entrees are prepared a special way.
Braai Republic advertises itself as “A Taste of Africa,” serving “Traditional South African Food.” I’ve never been to any country in Africa or eaten at a fully African-themed restaurant, so I don’t have those comparisons to draw from, but can evaluate the food on its own merits. Walking into the restaurant, it looks very African in color and decor. There are a variety of stuffed animal heads lending to the African feel.
The menu has a good variety of meats: beef, lamb, chicken and pork. Many of the names are European in origin as well as uniquely South African and Zimbabwean. There are Lamb & Pork Chops, Pork Ribs, Bangers, Boerewors, Pap and Wors, Oxtail Stew and Potjie, Prawns, Biltong, Droewors and a variety of pies: Lamb, Chicken, Pork, Mixed Meat and Spinich & Potato. Also on the menu is Peri-Peri chicken, wholly roasted, in a sandwich and livers.
The sides are mainly common ones, though some with an ethnic twist: Potato Fries, Green Salad, Slaw, Creamy Spinach, Curried Green Beans, Garlic Potatoes, and carrots.
Our group ordered a variety of entrees from the menu, realizing that each meat dish is prepared and cooked when it’s ordered. The first to order asked for the Chicken Pie, which was the last they had. Another ordered Lamb Chops which looked very good. Someone else ordered Peri-Peri Chicken (a marinated half-chicken). I ordered the Peri-Peri Chicken Sandwich with Potato Fries and the battalion chaplain, not having much time because of an appointment, just ordered Garlic Bread, which came with a number of toppings making it almost a meal on its own.
Everyone spoke of their meals being good, but I can only speak to mine. First, the iced sweet tea came in a handled mason jar. It’s brewed fresh (with the tea bag still in the glass when it arrived). The taste was a bit different from “American” sweet tea, apparently being sweetened with honey.
I ordered my Peri-Peri Chicken Sandwich with Potato Fries instead of the Green Salad, not knowing what may be in the salad or what the dressings may be like. I wondered, with a name like “Potato Fries,” if they would be any different than American “French Fries” and discovered they weren’t, but they were very good, certainly better that fast-food French Fries.
I’ve had Peri-Peri Chicken before, but at an Afro-Portuguese restaurant in Qatar, called Nando’s Peri-Peri. I assumed it would be similar, which it was. The sandwich came on a hoagie-type bun with shredded chicken marinated in the Peri-Peri spice. It had a thin white sauce along the top, though I’m not certain what that sauce was. While the type of bun was more bread than I would prefer, the taste of the sandwich -with the seasoning and sauces- was very, very good. It did remind me of the Peri-Peri chicken that I ate at Nando’s, which is a pleasant memory. There wasn’t a choice of levels of spicy (at Nando’s, I’d get “mild”) so had to take what I received. It was what I would label as medium-spicy. Spicy enough that I needed to get an additional glass of water but not so spicy that I couldn’t enjoy the flavor. The Peri-Peri Chicken Sandwich was a great choice, and one that I will make again…after I sample the other items on the menu which all also look great.
I would highly recommend Braai Republic if you’re looking for “meat and potatoes” with a bit of spice and good side dishes. And, I found out while writing this review that not only is there a Braai Republic near Camp Humphreys (where I ate), there is also one in Itaewon near USAG Yongsan (their website is here), so I’m looking forward to eating at Braai Republic again soon!
Additionally, I discovered that the same owners of the restaurant have a shop where a variety of sausages and cured and dried meats can be purchased. Here is a link to the store’s website, which also has good descriptions of the types of meat they sell at the store as well as serve in the restaurants: The Biltong Guy Shop.
One of the things that I find most interesting when I visit other countries is the differences that exist between my culture and theirs. Often times what a Westerner thinks is odd or peculiar in another culture is completely normal or natural for them. I can just imagine the thoughts that must go through the minds of visitors to the United States when they see some of the things unique to us.
Since this interests me so much, I take a lot of pictures of those things that turn my head. Most just wind up in a file on my computer, but some of the most unusual ones I like to share. Understand that in posting these pictures I’m not making fun of, or ridiculing, Koreans in any way. Like I said, what seems odd to a Westerner is often very normal for them. I post them here just to show what I find to be unusual, through my Western eyes and the differences that exist between our cultures.
By the way, if you find this post interesting, keep coming back. I’ll add the odd and unusual here as I encounter it, acknowledging the fact that admitting what I view as “odd and unusual” may label me as “odd and unusual”!
I took a trip out to Itaewon to find the antique district I heard about and passed by McDonald’s, whose advertisement of new sandwiches drew me in. The highlighted Golden Egg Cheeseburger reminded me of European hamburgers I have had in my travels. The first time I had a hamburger with an egg on it, I was in Basrah, Iraq which at the time, the post was run by the British so one of the restaurants on post was European. At the time, I thought it was really odd-putting an egg on a hamburger, but now I find it to be delicious.
Now, onto my McDonald’s experience (which, it seems, is always different). Ordering at this McDonald’s is never a problem. Partly because of the younger people they employ, who learn English in school, and partly because they have picture menus I can just point to! I pointed to the sandwich that enticed me in and was given a pager to put on my table, though the cashier told me my meal would be brought out to me when it was finished.
It wasn’t too busy when I was there so I was able to get one of the comfy seats, which I think are there as part of the McCafe appeal. The wait was a bit longer than other sandwiches would have been, but since I ordered a specialty burger it’s to be expected…and guarantees a fresh, hot sandwich.
I was surprised at the meal presentation. It looked like they went all out to magnify the special-ness of the burger. The meal came on a cutting board with the sandwich partially wrapped with the “get busy” side facing me. The french fries were served in a miniature deep-fryer basket. A fork was provided, wrapped in a napkin, which is always a pleasant surprise when eating at a Korean restaurant. Also on the cutting board were pickles and onions on the side along with 1 ketchup packet.
Unlike most wrapped fast-food sandwiches, this one came out looking as good as (or better than) the advertisements. The little toothpick flag holding the sandwich together boasted the fact that the burger was made from Australian Angus Beef, which proved to be very tasty.
All of the ingredients, the lettuce, bacon, hamburger, cheese, egg, ketchup and mustard combined to make a delicious-tasting sandwich. Each ingredient stood out as distinctly good tasting. I’m not sure if it was the egg, or the combination of other ingredients, but it had a distinctive taste from the other McDonald’s burgers and, influenced both by flavor and quality, was much better than any of them.
As always, the french fries were customary McDonald’s French Fries, which in my opinion are very good. Also, McDonald’s has an advantage over Lotteria in that they serve Coke products.
While the advertising brought me in, the taste and quality of the Golden Egg Cheeseburger will bring me back. It makes me hope the McDonald’s in the U.S. will have them when I get back!
Lotteria is a fast-food restaurant that was founded in 1972 and came to Korea in 1979. Their stated mission is to care for customers, the environment and the future. As one who frequents a variety of fast-food restaurants, I would rank Lotteria above McDonald’s and Wendy’s, closer to the level of Culver’s or Five Guys.
I previously had eaten at Lotteria to try their Bulgogi Burger to compare it to the one I ate at McDonald’s and decided that Lotteria’s Bulgolgi Burger is slightly better than McDonald’s. On this occasion, I went to Lotteria for breakfast, the first time eating out for breakfast since arriving in Korea (other than on-post restaurants). What was surprising about my visit to Lotteria for breakfast was that while the sign advertises breakfast being served from 0400 to 1100, there were no breakfast sandwiches ready in the warming bin, only burgers. The cashier told me it would be 7 minutes, which I agreed to (really wanting breakfast rather than lunch) and she gave me a beeper to let me know when it was ready which I thought was pretty advanced for a fast-food restaurant.
I haven’t seen on any Korean-restaurant menus the option of a breakfast sandwich on a biscuit, which would be my choice in the U.S. It seems the only options are English Muffins, at least at fast-food restaurants. Despite not being on a biscuit, the sandwich with sausage, cheese, egg and bacon looked good so I ordered it in a “set” (what we would call a “meal” or a “combo” in the U.S.) which included hash browns and a drink…I chose Pepsi, reluctantly, since they didn’t have Coke. The charge for this meal which included the sandwich, hash browns and a drink was just ₩4200, about $3.64.
My order was ready in about the 7 minutes, as promised and was hot and fresh (the advantage of waiting). Not being an English speaker, the cashier pointed to the straw dispenser as she gave me my tray which, along with my food, was already stocked with napkins and 1 ketchup packet. The hash browns were triangles and 2 came with the set. I’ll start with them, they were tasty, no different (maybe a little better) than McDonald’s hash browns and definitely better than Burger King’s “hash rounds.” I’ll quickly say that the Pepsi was fine, but it was Pepsi. Lotteria would do better to carry Coke products, but that’s just my opinion.
I was hungry and ready to get into the sandwich. I opened it up and it looked as it should, or at least it looked how I expected it to look … Purchased sandwiches never look as good as the advertisements. It looked good, though I did notice the bacon wasn’t crispy. It seemed more like Canadian Bacon, though it was shaped and sized like regular bacon and tasted more like bacon than ham. The sausage was good. It was seasoned well but not too spicy. The egg was cooked like McDonald’s cooks their Egg McMuffin eggs (I like the biscuit sandwich eggs better) but it was still good when combined with the sausage, bacon and cheese. The English Muffin tasted fine, though it seems like it could have been toasted a little more; it was a bit soft.
There was no Korean influence on the flavor of this meal, it was pretty basic but overall, I was very satisfied. Even with those things which were a bit different, it was a delicious sandwich and the hash browns complimented it well. I realize Lotteria isn’t a “high-class” restaurant, it’s fast food, so let me amend my review to say that for fast-food it was delicious and I’ll definitely eat there again.
Once my meal was complete, I took my tray to the trash and noticed that Lotteria, like most other restaurants in South Korea, has a place to separate your recycling, trash and food waste which fits into Lotteria’s stated concern for the environment.
The U.S. forces in Korea have a large number of KATUSA (Korean Augmentation to U.S. Army) Soldiers working with us. The chaplain’s offices often have a KATUSA assigned to them. In my brigade, we have a KATUSA as part of the BDE UMT and one of our battalions also has a KATUSA. These KATUSAs are doing a 2-year tour of duty with about 18 months of it on assignment with us. They receive their rank based on time-in-service. My KATUSA was recently promoted to corporal and the battalion KATUSA was just promoted to sergeant. To help him celebrate his promotion, we went to Dino Prime Meat Bar in Pyeongtaek, a great meat buffet. Here’s some pictures:
Spending the weekend at Camp Humphreys to spend time with my battalion chaplains and attend some of their events and worship services, I took some of my free time to go out the “walk-through” gate into the area of Pyeongtaek directly beside the base. I walked up the road in the area affectionately (or not so much) called by the Soldiers, “the Ville.” This is pretty much the main part of town that our Soldiers can get to easily and contains a combination of restaurants, bars and a variety of stores. Here’s a few pictures of my stroll in the “Ville”:
Small and large communities of businesses crop up outside of military bases all over the world and contain their share of nice places and not-so-nice places. The benefit of these business communities is that the military personnel have a place to shop and eat, offering a change from the common on-post establishments. In turn, money spent by these Service Members go into the local economy to help those who live and work in the area.
It’s normal for many restaurants to open around military installations. Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, ROK is no different. Right outside of the main walk-out gate is an area referred to by the military community as “The Ville.” The Ville is home to many restaurants of various ethnicities including Korean (of course) but also Filipino, Thai, Chinese, Turkish and even American.
Recently my battalion chaplains introduced me to the restaurant nearest the walk-out gate, the Turkish restaurant Nazar Kebab. Jumping ahead in my review of this restaurant, I’ve eaten there several times since then.
Nazar Kebab is a small place with seating for about 25 or so. In the warm weather, there are tables outside in the front. As you walk in, there’s a large menu hanging from the ceiling along with picture menus on the counter. The procedure is to place your order and pay, the find a seat and wait for your order. The don’t have fountain drinks, but do have a selection of Coke products, and other drinks in a drink cooler, if you choose to buy a drink. Along with two meat roasters (one of which is lamb), there’s a nice tiled dome oven. Add to the oven the Turkish workers behind the counter, and it’s a nice Mediterranean atmosphere.
I ordered a Lamb Tortilla “set,” meaning the sandwich, french fries and a drink. I declined the offer to make it “spicy” and paid for my order which was just a few thousand won, got mine drink from the cooler and found a seat. After a few minutes my order was ready so I returned to the counter to retrieve it and went back to my seat.
My experience with Turkish food is limited to the Doner Kebabs we ate regularly while living in Germany. They reminded me of Greek Gyros, but were significantly different and stood on their own as a novel taste. At first look, the Lamb Tortilla from Nazar Kebab looked very much like a Greek Gyro, though they used a tortilla instead of pita bread which, while I think the pita bread would taste better, the tortilla is probably better for you.
I’ll begin with the other items before getting to the main entree. The Coke was in a can, bottled for sale in Korea so instead of high fructose corn syrup that Coke uses in the U.S., it was sweetened with pure cane sugar, so had a much better taste. The french fries were cooked well and had a great taste. The order of fries, while a standard size, were plenty to complete the meal and satisfy my hunger.
The Lamb Tortilla, wrapped in a tortilla, came with the shaved lamb with lettuce, onions, tomatoes, onions and an appropriate sauce. I’m always concerned about not getting enough meat, but there was plenty of meat here. All of the other items were also of sufficient proportions allowing for the perfect mix of meat with the other ingredients. The taste? Delicious! So good in fact, that after my first visit, the next time I was at Camp Humphreys I ate there 2 more times, then again on the next visit. I plan on eating there every chance I get and would highly recommend you try them out if you ever get to Pyeongtaek.
Since I have been in South Korea, one of the things that I have been asked is if American-branded food tastes the same in Korea as in the United States so I decided to do a little exploration to find out. I sought out the standard of Americana-McDonald’s-as my first test. I went to the one in Itaewon, primarily because it’s the only that I know the location of (and can easily walk there) and because I have been there before to try the famous Bulgogi Burger.
Having been to this McDonald’s before (and to other McDonald’s around the world), I was pretty familiar with the process so went straight to the first open register I saw. I ordered a #3 meal with Coke, that’s a Quarter Pounder with Cheese meal. I figured, what could be more American than a Quarter Pounder since the U.S. is about the only country in the world not on the Metric System? I was pleasantly surprised at the price of just ￦5000, though it comes with what is a “small” drink in the U.S. with no option to “super-size.” The order was quickly filled and placed on my tray with 1 catsup packet, 5 napkins and a sale advertisement.
Arriving at my seat, one of the first things I noticed was that the required space needed for my American body must be greater than that of the average Korean…but that’s a topic for another post. I opened my sandwich to find a protective sleeve like Big Macs in the U.S. use to come in. This kept my Quarter Pounder with Cheese nice and tidy. A quick perusal under the crown revealed the standard McDonald’s condiments for the Quarter Pounder. As I bit into the sandwich … (before I go on, you need to know that I ate at McDonald’s a lot back in the United States-a LOT. And my meal of choice was the Quarter Pounder with Cheese. Now, back to my review) … I was transported home. The texture, taste and satisfaction was the same, if not better, than what I would expect to find at any McDonald’s in the United States. My next taste was the french fries which were equally satisfying, if a bit less salty than in the U.S. Then the Coke which I’ve found to be the same about anywhere you go (except Mexico whose formula still includes real sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup-those lucky Mexicans!).
After completing my meal, I handed my tray with trash to the nice gentleman by the door who sorted the trash for recycling, then I left the Itaewon McDonald’s satisfied and convinced that just about anywhere you go, you’ll find McDonald’s quality and standards upheld, with the serendipitous benefit of local flavors added to the menu.
One of the commander’s programs that I run as the chaplain is an orientation for newcomers to the brigade which gives newly-arrived Soldiers guided experience using public transportation, visiting a cultural site and eating at a Korean restaurant. Not wanting my first time there to be when I lead my first group, today my chaplain assistant took me, along with my incoming assistant and our KATUSA, on the trip to “recon” the site and “rehearse” our movement.
We started by meeting on post near the dining facility then taking the post shuttle to the gate. Exiting the gate, we walked to the train/subway station and got on the #4 southbound train (toward Samgakji) at the Sookmyung Women’s University stop. After changing trains in Geumjeong onto the #1 southbound (toward Gunpo), we arrived at the Suwon station. Making our way to ground level, we caught a bus (can take either the #11 or #13) to the fortress. After visiting the fortress then walking to the restaurant for lunch, we made our way back to the bus stop (again, either #11 or #13 in the same direction) for our return trip to Yongsan via the #1 northbound back to Geumjeong then the #4 northbound. On the return trip, however, we got off at the Samgakji stop which was a bit shorter of a walk onto post (and out of the now falling rain).
The Suwan Hwaseong Fortress was an interesting site to see, and we just saw part of it. According to the visitor’s map:
Suwon Hwaseong Fortress, Historic Sites No. 3, was built over two years and nine months, from January 1794 to September 1796, by King Jeongjo, the 22nd king of the Joseon Dynasty, to move the tomb of his father Crown Prince Jangheon, also known as Crown Prince Sado, because of his filial duty to his father.
The wall is approximately 5.7 kilometers long (varies between 4 to 6 meters at different points) and was designed by the silhak scholars Yu, Hyeong-won and Jeong, Yak-yong. It is known as a unique structure in the history of architecture because of its use of stones and bricks together in a modern fortress structure to deflect arrows, spears, swords, guns, and cannons; its use of standardized materials; and its use of new scientific and practical mechanic apparatuses such as Geojunggi.
For 200 years, the walls and structures had been collapsing, particularly during the Korean War. The restoration and repair of the fortress began in 1975, based on books that recorded in detail the Suwon Hwaseong Fortress Construction called Hwaseong Seongyeokigwe.
Suwon Hwaseong Fortress was registered as a World Heritage Site in the 21st Assembly of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Napoli, Italy on the 6th day of December 1997.
Here are some more pictures from our trip. In some of them, it may appear as though we are having a good time, but in reality we were working…hard!