Do you like Czech beer? Do you like Russian food? Well, by golly, then Rason is the place for you!*
Two new (as in, within the last year) dining establishments are now lighting up the Rason restaurant scene, serving European treats. This is a welcome break from the Sinified Korean food that has dominated Rason since...a long time ago. (Indeed, one CE workshop leader who had previously fallen in love with Pyongyang style hot-plate tofu was regularly disappointed to find Chinese-style tofu appear whenever we attempted to order it.)
The Russian Place
We're not sure what this place is called, as we don't speak Russian, but let's temporarily dub it "Mustachioed Construction Worker", after the several muscular and mustachioed Russian laborers we saw working on the Russian-leased pier at Rajin port. Indeed, their constant presence over the last several years as the rail link and then the pier were developed is the impetus for the founding of this restaurant. And while they would likely be the main clientele, the restaurant does have a Chinese/Korean food section as well.
The bread and cheese is a highlight here, as well as Russian dumplings, which were quite good but were probably imported frozen.
Mokran Video (the state video distribution company) seems to be releasing more and more Russian material these days. With some Slavic tunes in the background, the ambiance does serve to transport one away for a spell.
The Chesko Beer Place
following the northern rendering of 'Czech', "Chesko Beer Place" is what everyone calls this restaurant. No wonder the generic name, as they don't have any signage. They do serve beer, however. It seems a Czech gentlemen was under contract to train the staff to make beer, but recently left.
It is situated in Rajin on the edge of a city park overlooking the sea and they don't mind you dragging a seat out in the afternoon to enjoy the leafy view. This is a significant improvement on the interior, which has a weird plastic jungle/orchard vibe.
The food menu is not terribly Czech, or really Czech at all - it features the pretty standard Chinese-Korean mismash.
The beer itself is also not terribly Czech, its flavor profile having been made a bit softer and lighter for local palates. It is very drinkable and smooth, though: its so fresh and bright, it makes a nice beer for summer. It's competitively priced with other restaurants, with a 500cc glass going for 10 RMB and a 300 cc glass going for 8 RMB.
*some caveats apply