The US military has maintained a presence upon the South Korean peninsula since the “end” of the Korean War in 1953. The old base in central Seoul, surrounding the foreigner friendly area of Itaewon, has been in a process of moving 70km south to Pyeongtaek. The small village of Anjeong-ri is adjacent to the massive and growing Camp Humphrey’s. There are a few restaurants and bars there to serve the almost 30,000 troops who might need a night off base.
We went to eat a late brunch at the South African Braai Republic. It’s a larger version than the one in Itaewon, and they have amazing ribs and smokey roasted chicken on this menu. The ribs are simply spectacular and worth the hour drive from Seoul. Tangy sauce with tender meat; the smoked chicken is a bit dry but full of flavor. The lamb meat pie is perfect comfort food. It’s got a crunchy, well cooked crust with flavorful meat and gravy that goes well with the spinach. I wasn’t a huge fan of the pickled green beans. There are five or six beers on tap ranging from fruity watermelon to a tasty dark porter.
Always craving a good batch of salty tortilla chips, we stopped into La Mesa. It’s a large restaurant with plenty of Mexican offerings. Each meat has a nice distinctive flavor, the sauce on the chicken enchilada was excellent, and the al pastor chimichanga was fried just right. I was extremely disappointed that the queso was simply warmed up cheese whiz. That’s the kind of thing that will get you exiled in Texas.
I was a happy dude after this full day of eating. Pyeongtaek will only get better as the transition continues. We got corralled into this small bar which seems to be for old vets who’ve lived on the bases of Japan and Korea. The old dudes there were real keen on telling me how I should open up a good Southern cooking restaurant, as it was sorely lacking there. Old Walt said, “You got your ribs, your black eyed peas, your okra, and that’s all you need. Add some good cornbread and that’s your place.” I gotta admit Walt, it does sound good.