Searching for a kid-friendly meal? Look no further than Korea’s ‘best family restaurant’
By MATTHEW KEELER | Stars and Stripes | Published: February 28, 2019
I’m new to Osan Air Base, so I am always on the lookout for anything around the installation that grabs my attention. When I spotted a local establishment that claimed to be “The World’s Best Family Restaurant,” I knew I had to see if it was worthy of such a title.
With more than 100 locations spread across South Korea, Raracost opened its first outlet, east of Daegu near Yeongcheon City Hall, just seven years ago.
Raracost serves up a unique take on Italian-inspired cuisine that includes pork and chicken entrees, pasta, pizza, pilaf and risottos, and salad. It’s especially popular with university students, as many locations are situated near college campuses.
You can expect to be greeted by a hostess and escorted to a table. On my visit, I was accompanied by my wife and two kids — so we were seated in a separate dining room that is conveniently located next to the restaurant’s elaborate children’s play area.
Once greeted and seated, don’t expect much more from the hosts. Fountain drinks, water and coffee are at self-service stations — and choosing your meal is as easy as writing down an item’s number from the menu and handing your order to any host. Items are brought to the table as soon as they’re ready, so your food can potentially come out one dish at a time.
If you don’t speak Korean, don’t worry. The menu includes a picture and an English description for every item, making our search for the perfect dish a little more pleasant. Beverages consisted of standard Pepsi products, but no diet options were available besides water.
As this was our first visit to Raracost, we made sure to order a variety of entrees from the menu to share with the table.
For our youngest child, we selected the Triple Combo (7,500 won, or about $6.50), which included chicken nuggets, baked potato chips and cheese sticks served with a side of honey mustard and ketchup. Although there was nothing particularly special about this dish, it’s an ideal choice for American palates, as the restaurant’s kids’ menu leaves much to be desired.
Next out was my choice: the Bacon Snowball Pizza (14,900 won), which is topped with fresh “snowballs” of cream cheese and bacon. The crust on the pizza is extremely thin, making this a lighter option compared to traditional pizzas. This dish was the clear standout of the evening. With each bite, I couldn’t wait to make my way to the next cheesy snowball.
My wife ordered the Double Pork Steak (17,900 won). While Raracost does not offer any beef products other than hamburg steaks, this tender piece of pork — served with a sweet sauce, salad and fries — will surely satisfy any diner in search of a meaty dish.
The least appealing meal of the evening was the American Cheese Pasta (10,900 won) — but my teenage daughter didn’t seem to mind. When first brought to the table, the dish resembled a pan pizza topped with bubbly cheese. However, over the course of several minutes, it quickly turned into heavy, creamy pasta.
Is Raracost worthy of the title of “world’s best family restaurant?” Perhaps, as your visit really is what you make of it. The children’s indoor playground was an unexpected bonus for a chain that targets a younger clientele, but it also helped enhance the family-friendly atmosphere of the restaurant.
Our meal for a family of four came to roughly 51,000 won (or about $45) — which, although a reasonable cost for a family evening out, is a price point that might have Americans expecting a certain level of service.
Still, we left satisfied — and even raved about the Bacon Snowball Pizza all the way to the car.
LOCATION: There are more than 100 Raracost outlets throughout Korea. The closest location to Osan Air Base is: 814-2 Seojeong-dong, Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
DIRECTIONS: The nearest Raracost to Osan Air Base is roughly a 3-km walk or drive from the installation’s main gate, or a five-minute ride using public transportation. To take the bus, look for bus number 1-1. The bus conveniently stops at the restaurant’s front door. There is no parking lot, but parking is available several blocks away for a small fee.
HOURS: Open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
COST: Pork dishes range from 9,000 to 18,000 won (about $8 to $16), while pizza, pasta, and rice plates are anywhere from 6,000 to 16,000 won.