Thursday, August 25, 2016

Braai Republic, sausage plate

Chorizo, boerwors, pork, beef, and excellent, light slaw.


So I've finally been to Braai Republic, a South African grill joint that sits a bit off the main street in Itaewon (website here). The place was nearly empty when my boss, my coworker, and I lumbered in around 5:30PM. The owner of the place, who was seated with some chums just outside the entrance, greeted us with a hearty, "Whoa, three big guys coming our way! I'm scared!" Braai's interior (braai is Afrikaans for "barbecue" or "grill") was much smaller than I'd thought it would be; the place seated about fifty. As my coworker noted, this is why you have to call ahead to make reservations, especially on traffic-heavy days.

A young lady led us to our table and seated us next to a pair of Western ladies who were deep in conversation and doing an excellent job of ignoring us. They were the only other patrons in the place, which had only just opened for dinner at 5PM. Despite that fact, the kitchen was a bustle of activity; I suppose the cooks were prepping whatever the ladies had ordered.

We got our menus; my boss and coworker ordered a lamb-chop plate that came with sides of slaw and rough-mashed (almost smashed) potatoes; I ordered a sausage plate (was it called a "meat plate"? I can't remember*) that came with no sides except pickles, so I ordered a separate side of slaw. You see my meal above: it consisted of eight fat sausage links, all cooked to perfection, pickles, dipping sauces, and slaw on the side.

I have to give Braai Republic a hearty thumbs-up for the simplicity of the operation. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed, but the menu, and the culinary concept behind it, is very no-bullshit, don't-fuck-around modest and direct. There's an almost frighteningly Spartan purity of purpose here, and it's obvious the owner and his crew take great pride in the product they're putting out. The name Braai already tells you that you're here for grilled meat, and my large plate cost only W17,000, which I deem a very fair price, especially by Korean standards. (The slaw, a large plate, was W3,500.)

My boss commented that the menu doesn't really feature a wide variety of items—but he intended this as a compliment: as he further explained, having few items meant the menu could stay simple and focused, with just a few plated elements being served in different permutations and combinations. (My boss didn't use the words "permutations and combinations." I doubt he remembers high-school math.)

So I had a meal that was hearty, rib-sticking, and reasonably priced (the company credit card took care of the tab; I'm not complaining). I'll definitely be back at Braai again, but it'll be tempting just to stick to the sausage plate I had this time around. Those lamb chops looked quite mouth-watering, but my coworker told us that Braai also serves a surprisingly filling lamb tenderloin on Sundays.

All three of us blew through our meals so quickly that the owner jokingly wondered aloud as to why we were leaving so fast. I told him (truthfully!) that we were going out for coffee. To be clear, we weren't in any hurry to escape the place; we had simply concentrated on eating almost to the exclusion of conversation. We did truly enjoy the food, however rapidly we dispensed with it. Braai serves up a nosh that even I find satisfying, although I'm probably going to order some mashed potatoes along with my meat and slaw next time.

Definitely worth the trip.

*An older menu, whose image I found online through a Google search, lists a "banger platter," but I don't think that's what my meal was called. Or was it?


Charles said...

Next time, ask them if they have the Amarula-topped cheesecake. It is excellent.

The Maximum Leader said...

Those sausages look like "bangers" in the traditional British sense.

Kevin Kim said...


Will do.


They do, at that.

Charles said...

Bangers are specifically a UK thing, though, so called because of their tendency to explode while cooking. If I remember the Braai wors correctly, they did not really resemble British sausages. Just seems like an odd term to use when they could have used the Afrikaans "wors."

Kevin Kim said...


As you see in the above pic, some of my sausages had definitely burst. If they weren't true bangers, they were wannabes. I love the chaotic texture that those little explosions impart.

In Switzerland, where cooking is done cautiously, my Swiss mother would cook sausages almost to bursting, then warn me when serving them, "Attention—ça gicle!" i.e., "Careful—it spurts!" No doubt a warning she first heard when she was in her early teens.

Charles said...

Ah, I had just assumed that the sausages were broken apart on purpose.

I dunno, I just associate "bangers" with "classic" UK sausages: low quality and meh taste. Like the sausages we had in Scotland. We actually had a lot of good food there, but the sausages were without exception quite crap. So it feels weird to call a good sausage a "banger." But maybe that's just me!

(And I am not even going to touch that "spurt" comment.)