After hours: Little restaurant is a mouthful
Stars and Stripes June 7, 2007
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — When you’re in the mood for a plate of grilled beef or chicken and want a relaxed and inexpensive place to spend time with friends, try “the mud hut.”
About two minutes from Osan Air Base, the restaurant’s nickname is a comment not on its cleanliness but on its rustic motif. Plus, it’s a lot easier for airmen to say than its actual name:
It’s essentially a mom-and-pop operation run by a kindly elderly couple, Choi Dae-gun and his wife.
The building, designed to look like a traditional Korean wood and thatched-roof structure, offers seating at tables or booths. The restaurant has no bar, but alcoholic beverages are on the menu. There’s beer and soju, of course, but there’s also something you may not have heard of: baekseju, which the menu said was “liquor for long life.”
The straightforward food menu offers a range of standard Korean meat dishes, including the house specialty: beef or chicken bulgogi.
Also on the menu are things like samgye-tang, a stewed chicken stuffed with rice, small sweet fruit and ginseng; naengmyun, which is cold buckwheat noodles in broth; as well as grilled beef ribs, grilled pork belly and vermicelli with octopus.
We ordered chicken bulgogi, which Choi cooked for us after first setting hot coals under the grill built into our tabletop. When the strips of chicken and onions began to sizzle on the grill, he was on his way to the table with a large tray containing an array of traditional side dishes.
A basket of lettuce was also set on the table, giving the diner the option of wrapping the meat and rice inside a lettuce leaf and eating it whole.
The side dishes seemed notably fresh, as did the chicken, which was flavorful in its own right but even more interesting when dipped in an accompanying sauce.
O! Ja-neh-wat-neung-ga is perhaps showing its age a bit on the inside. But we nevertheless found a comfortable setting in which to enjoy a flavorful meal in an easygoing atmosphere.
To see previous After Hours reviews, go to stripes.com/afterhours.