I’m not usually one for sports pubs, in fact I hate sports, but the booze and bar food is usually enough to lure me in. So when I heard that a new Canadian pub called Maple House had opened up in Itaewon, I didn’t really pay it too much attention until one of my Canadian friends told me they served awesome poutine and invited me to go check out the place.
When we walked in I was amazed by how large the place was, it was absolutely massive. I never visited the ill fated Elixir so had no idea of the size of the space. They have clearly spared no expense doing it up Canuck style either. Ice hockey jerseys and sports memorabilia line the wall, while the big windows open out and give you a bird’s eye view of some some of Itaewon’s cultural heritage sites like McDonald’s.
I was with a gang of Canadians, who in general are a pretty boozy bunch, so of course cocktails needed to be ordered, and Maple House has rather a nice selection. Raspberry Mojitos (12,000) are always a favourite of mine and this one was perfectly made and certainly qualifies its price tag. My buddies got the Espresso Martini (12,000), Ruby Red Martini (13,000), and Caesar cocktail (12,000). The martinis we adored, but the Caesar was lacking a little oomph so we went over to the bar and worked on the recipe together until we got it just right.
Poutine is by far and away the most popular Canadian food and Maple House does not disappoint. There are five different varieties on the menu and we got 2 of them. The Quack Quack Poutine (12,000) unsurprisingly is topped with duck legs, a rich smoky gravy and chunks of squeaky cheese curds. This was amazing and by far the best poutine I’ve every tried, though honestly there isn’t a whole lot of competition in Korea. Either way I was loving this ducky treat and would have claimed it as my favourite until the next one showed up.
The Pre-Hangover Poutine (11,000) is epic. Fries smothered in curds and gravy, ground beef, bacon, mushroooms and maple syrup. This was flat out amazeballs, a party in my mouth where no one was invited because I didn’t want to share a single bit of it. The sweetness from the maple syrup just gave it the most orgasmic taste when combined with the salty bacon and rich gravy. I honestly haven’t stopped thinking about it since, in fact I’d go tonight it was open, and every night after until my cravings are satisfied. It really is that good.
As our main course we tried the Pork belly (16,000). I adore pork belly if it’s done well, the melt in the mouth feeling of the meat and the fat slowly dissolving upon my tongue is one of my greatest pleasures. And this one was insanely good, just looking at the picture again kind of makes me want to lick the screen. It was paired with a pickled cabbage and carrot puree laced with gochujang to give it a spicy Korean edge. The name Home Run is very apt because head chef Julien nailed it, and the price is really reasonable, dare I say too much so. I’d still be pretty happy if it was twice the price, on second thoughts, scratch that, I’ll just buy two!
For dessert we tried the Dam Slapper (5,000) the Maple House version of the famed Beaver Tail, which is kind of like a Canadian churro. We paired this with the Smore (6,000), a chocolate fondant with a roasted marshmallow and a graham cracker. Both desserts, while perfectly delicious by themselves, were incredible when paired together. The cinnamon and sugar covered fried dough was immense when dipped into the gooey chocolate fondant and marshmallow.
Overall I was incredibly impressed by Maple House, it more than exceeded my expectations in terms of food, drink and design. We have seen a couple of good gastropubs open up lately, but this one blows them out of the water with its menu. There are plenty of classics like burgers and poutine, along with with some more refined dishes like Canadian salmon and the pork belly. It’s the perfect mix of sports bar and gastropub. Obviously I don’t care much for the sports, but the food and cocktails are good enough that it doesn’t matter.
Maple house is located at 2F, 145 Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Itaewon Station (line 6) and come out of exit 1. Walk straight for a couple of hundred meters, you will see Maple House on your left on the second floor above the KEB bank. For more information you can call them on 02-790-7936 or check out their facebook page. Open Tuesday – Sunday, closed on Mondays.