I recently reviewed a Turkish restaurant in Pyeongtaek, Nazar Kebab. Today I went with a couple of chaplain friends to a Turkish place in Itaewon, Mr. Kebab. It’s just a few blocks up the main road in Itaewon, on the right. On the way there, we passed 3 or 4 other Turkish restaurants that looked good, but we continued on to Mr. Kebab. It’s a small restaurant, with enough seats for about 25, though when we were there, there was plenty of room.
Outside of the restaurant is a Turkish Ice Cream stand, similar to the one I got ice cream from on Sunday, and wrote about in my post about Yeon Deung Hoe. I didn’t get ice cream today, though I was tempted with the baklava, but I passed on it too (for now). They also had chocolate baklava, which doesn’t appeal to me, but I’m sure my wife would have chosen it.
I ordered the Turkish Lamb Kebab on tortilla bread. It came with the roasted lamb, lettuce, tomato, onion and the special sauce (don’t think McDonald’s). I’ve got to say, I didn’t think I’d find a better one than what I get at Nazar Kebab in Pyeongtaek but Mr. Kebab came through. I think it may be that there was more sauce on this one, which gave it a bit more flavor without loosing the taste of the lamb.
The menu includes a number of items that look really good. You can choose from fish, chicken or lamb options; choices of breads (tortilla, baguette), rice, falafels with many different combinations. For sides, you can order potato fries, onion rings or cheese sticks. For desert, you can choose baklava, as I already mentioned, but also Turkish Delight (which I’ll go back for after my weigh-in in a couple of weeks!), Turkish Ice Cream or yogurt. There’s also the normal selection of drinks, teas and coffees.
As it turns out, Mr. Kebab has two locations in Itaewon and apparently is affiliated with Kervan Turkish Restaurant (which seems to be more “upscale” than Mr. Kebab), with 3 locations; Kervan Bakery and Dessert Bar and Sultan Turkish Kebab House which looks to have a different variety of Turkish dishes than Mr. Kebab.
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.
Alright, I finally found that elusive McDonald’s in Itaewon! I got a Double Bulgogi Burger meal for just ￦5500 (about $5) and it was delicious! Not only that, my Coke came in a hard plastic (not-disposable) glass!
I know that this isn’t “real” Korean food, but it is unique to Korean McDonald’s and “bulgogi” is a Korean-seasoned beef (and…I like McDonald’s).