Memories: German food from German chef in South Korea
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — How intrigued we were when someone told us the other day that there was a “German” restaurant in Songtan, that most un-Teutonic of places just outside Osan Air Base in South Korea.
Probably, we thought, it’s operated by some enterprising Korean people who lived a few years in Germany, learned the cuisine, and now offer it — along with kimchi — more as a “fusion” restaurant of the kind found in many South Korean cities these days.
In fact, though, Memories is run by Konrad Wermers, 65, a native of Westphalia, Germany, who told us he worked for years as a chef at several major South Korean hotels. In the mid- 1990s he opened Memories in Seoul, but moved it to Songtan about a year and a half ago.
Can you, he asked us with a smile, have a real German restaurant if the owner’s not German?
And indeed, Memories offers some staples of the traditional German menu — Wiener Schnitzel, Jaeger Schnitzel, and Zigeuner Schnitzel, as well as Nurnberger sausage and a sausage platter.
Also on the menu were appetizers — snails in herb butter, for example, and smoked Norwegian salmon; soups and salads; soft drinks and a variety of German beers. No bar, no mixed drinks.
On the cold afternoon when we came in for lunch, there were also specials on offer that included breaded beef steak, veal ball in caper sauce, and desserts .
We hadn’t been sure what to expect, especially on that particular rough-at-the-edges street in a faded section of town. Memories serves customers on the first floor of a twostory building that looks far from new.
The interior too was neither new nor glitzy, but it was nevertheless pleasant and well arranged .
We ordered the sausage platter for 14,500 won (about $11). It came to us with five types of sausage, slices of smoked pork loin, mashed potatoes and sauerkraut.
The sausages were so tasty that we thought it could be very easy to come back often just to order them. The potatoes were quietly flavorful, had just the right consistency . As to the sauerkraut, we tried to remember when we’d ever tasted better.
Wermers said about 95 percent of his customers are U.S. servicemembers, but Koreans and foreigners stop in, too.
Memories Pyeongtaek, South Korea
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. or later, depending on customers
Prices: Main dishes range from 12,500 to 25,500 won ; appetizers from 9,000 to 11,500 won; soups, 6,500 won; salads, from 7,500 to 8,500 won; beers are 3,000 to 10,000 won; soft drinks are 3,000 to 5,000 won.
Specialties: Jaeger schnitzel, grilled sausage, bratwurst
English menu: Yes
Clientele: Mostly U.S. servicemembers
Location: About a four-minute walk from the Osan Air Base main gate, behind the Asia Hotel and next door to the Sun hair shop.
Phone: (031) 667-4249
Web site: None