A South African-themed restaurant in Seoul, South Korea, is bringing Saffas, meat-loving ex-pats and locals together to bond over the beauty of braaied meat. The manifesto of Braai Republic, located in the neighbourhood of Itaewon, explains braai as the social event that brings together people from all backgrounds back home. “Our mission is to deliver that experience to everyone that walks through our doors.”
Owners Chris Truter and Roddy Bancroft first came to the country to teach English. They played rugby together and, after a while, their friendship progressed to the kitchen, where they started making biltong and boerewors. Soon they were producing boerewors for festivals and sending their meaty wares across the country. In 2011 they opened Braai Republic, a restaurant dedicated to all things braai.
The offering includes traditional South African favourites like pap and wors, bunny chow, creamy spinach, surf and turf, peri-peri chicken livers, cheesy garlic bread, and sides like curried green beans. The team also makes biltong, chilli bites, boerewors, potjie, bobotie and more, but the most popular dish is lamb chops, due to this kind of meat enjoying a surge in popularity in South Korea. Also, be still our hearts, you can ‘meat up’ your meal with the addition of an extra chop or wors. (The menu really is worth a look, if only to see juicy Afrikaans words like vonkelwyn, vrugtesap and harde hout appear.)
The thirsty can order familiar favourites of Savanna, Castle Lager, KWV brandy, and shots that show off the South African sense of humour, like Long Drop and Monkey Balls. All wines are proudly South African, and include the likes of The Wolftrap and Goats Do Roam.
While many Saffas stop by, mostly over the weekends, 80% of the customers are Korean, which testifies to the appeal of the charred chop. Aside from the appealing food, the owners reckon Braai Republic is known most of all for its true South African hospitality and a great vibe. We have no doubt. Cheers, guys!