Castle Praha

3월 19, 2013 at 5:25 오전 castle praha, czech, hongdae
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By Dan Foley

Seoul foreigner restaurants usually consist of a predictable bunch: a slew of burger joints, Italian eateries, and Japanese seafood houses. Sprinkled in are the occasional Indian, Chinese, and French-bistro-style restaurants. They’re all great, but every once in a while, you come across a place that goes completely against the grain. These are the true hidden gems of Seoul. However, some of these gems aren’t so hidden. Take, for example, Castle Praha. While definitely a gem of a restaurant, it’s not so hidden. In fact, it’s in a castle. No, really. A castle.

Castle Praha is located in Hongdae a short walk down the road from the university. It is indeed a castle, constructed with stone, complete with a tower and suits of armor. Especially at twilight, when it is illuminated by multicolored spotlights and silhouetted against the bluish-black sky, this gothic beauty is like none other in Seoul.

Castle Praha was built in an attempt to encapsulate the spirit of what it means to be Czech. In contrast to the stone exterior, the interior is intimate and warm, lit by candles and carved out of wood. Specialization in alcohol comes standard. Two full bars, one of them an extensive wine bar, are the highlights of two large and full floors of seating, all of which is extensively decorated in true Czech-fashion. Along the walls, strange and colorful dolls, paintings, and other decorations give Praha another worldly quality.

The food is authentically Czech. As such, the menu is saturated with meat in all the best possible ways. Traditional Czech food consists of two courses. The first is a soup of some sort, often containing meat, and the second, the entrée, is likewise heavily meat based. For the first course, Praha recommends the goulash, a hearty stew consisting of thick meat and vegetables, seasoned with paprika. The main courses are a variety of Czech-inspired dishes, but the true spectacle of Praha’s culinary legacy is the home-made sausage. Coming in hot chili, regensburger, frankfurter, and even the Korean-fusion dduk galbi-style, you can’t make a bad decision.

In addition, there’s a slew of Bohemian-inspired dishes, like the Prague ham with creamed horseradish and the signature stuffed meatloaf. Along for the ride are their brick-oven pizza and some specialty side dishes like calamari and pumpkin and chicken gratin to get you started right.

But, as stated before, their specialty isn’t food, it’s beer. The Czech beer game is world-renown, and if they have mastered one thing, it’s surely the Pilsner. Over one thousand years of brewing experience and technology went into perfecting this brew, and Czech people know it inside and out. The Praha Pilsner is fantastic, imported straight from the Czech Republic and served on tap, just like every other beer on the menu. The Weizen beer is this author’s favorite of the lot, possessing a smooth flavor and a complicated aftertaste. The stout is dark and rich, and the Dunkles is definitely worth a go. If you can’t decide on one, they have a smaller sized set of all six of their beers you can order, an excellent choice if you come with a few friends in search of a quality beverage.

Castle Praha is definitely worth stopping by for a meal, a beer, or even just a look around. They have four locations throughout Seoul, two in Itaewon and one in Garosugil. All four feature that authentic Czech taste, but to see the castle, you have to make the trip to Hongdae.
(Tel. 02-337-6644)

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