Craftworks Taphouse in Seoul soothes with its brews
Sure, Korean food can be yummy, but sometimes you want a taste of home — and Craftworks Taphouse would be at home anywhere in America.
Craftworks offers American-style meals that stand out for their fresh ingredients. One of its three Seoul outlets is just across the street from U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan’s Gate 21, also known as the Kimchi Pot Gate.
Popular with expats and Koreans alike, the restaurant offers brunch, lunch, dinner and pub standards, from hamburgers and sandwich wraps to unusual offerings like pulled-pork pancakes with bourbon maple syrup (13,000 won).
But — no surprise given its name — Craftworks is perhaps best known for its Korean-brewed beers made with spring water, ranging from the Baekdusan Hefeweizen to the Seorak Oatmeal Stout. Can’t decide what to try? Order the sampler paddle of seven beers (10,500).
We went to the Namsan branch on a recent holiday afternoon when the restaurant was crowded with mostly young Koreans, and were seated on the shaded open-air patio at a hightop approximately one foot away from the adjoining table. My dining companion grumbled about sitting almost elbow to elbow with another customer and had to almost shout to be heard over the din of talking and loud music.
He grew even crabbier after our server — who repeatedly couldn’t figure out how to operate the smartphone-like device she was using to take our order — told us that his top three draft beer choices were sold out.
But a few sips of a cold Halla Mountain Golden Ale, named after the Jeju Island landmark and described by Craftworks as having a “malty influence” with a “slightly sweet finish with hints of caramel,” soon soothed him. He described it as rich and a giant step up from Korea’s cheap but watery popular beers.
I ordered the Mexican taco salad with fried tofu (12,000 for the salad and 4,000 extra for the tofu; chicken, pulled pork and meat toppings are available). My companion ordered a “fire” buffalo chicken sandwich (13,000 won). While he gave it a thumbs-up, it was at best a disappointing five out of 10 on the spiciness scale, despite a warning from our server about the potential impact on his insides.
Craftworks also offers desserts — the red velvet cake at the neighboring table looked particularly appetizing — and a pub grub menu until midnight, featuring such standards as french fries (8,000 won), nachos (12,000 won; add beef chili for 4,000 won) and chicken wings, with flavors ranging from honey mustard to teriyaki.
Directions: Leave Yongsan’s Gate 21. You’ll see Craftworks across the street. To get there, either take a right when you leave the gate and use the pedestrian underpass to cross the road, or take a left outside the gate and take the pedestrian bridge.
Hours: Monday-Friday, 11 am to 1 am; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Prices: Most brunch, lunch and dinners are in the 10,000-15,000 won range. Locally brewed beers are 6,500-8,000 won per glass.
More information: Phone (Namsan branch) 02-794-2537. You can make reservations online at craftworkstaphouse.com.