Best burgers in Seoul

Best burgers in Seoul

What these juicy, succulent burgers may lack in style, they make up with flavor

It's taken a few decades, but perfectly seasoned and grilled burgers can now be found all over Korea's capital. While the construction might leave a lot to be desired (most will fall apart in your hands), these flavor-packed patties will satisfy your meat-craving taste buds ... and your wallet. 

Here's a roundup of the best burgers in Seoul. 

Brooklyn, the Burger Joint

brooklyn burgerDouse with the dozens of condiments available at the counter.
By far the best burger joint in Seoul, Brooklyn serves up a superb, juicy burger and malted milk shakes in a back alley in Seorae Village (서래마을).

The three most popular burgers on the menu are the simple cheeseburger, the "Brooklyn Works" (₩9,500) made with American cheese, bacon, lettuce, onion, tomato, pickles and a delicious, ranch-like "homemade sauce," and the "C.R.E.A.M." (Cheddar Rules Everything Around Meat, ₩9,500), that comes with sharp cheddar, bacon and horseradish mayonnaise. 

The tiny restaurant seats 18 and has paid considerable attention to detail, from the warm and colorful decor to the tiny condiments available on every table and an impressively stocked condiment bar stuffed with pepper sauces, steak sauces, mayonnaise and mustards. 

"This burger is better than what they serve at Five Guys, which is my favorite burger place in the United States," says Sharrise Evans, a teacher from Washington D.C.. who came to check out Brooklyn for the first time.

"It's really hard to find good chili fries in Korea because they tend to be watery -- the ones here really thick and good," says fellow patron Won Jang. 

Seocho-gu, Banpo-dong 551-32 (서초구 반포동 551-32); +82 2 533 7180; 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; closed Monday. 


Burger Hunter

Cheeseburgers at Burger Hunter.
"We get a lot of foreign customers who work in the area," says Song Hyun-kyu, the manager of Burger Hunter diner at City Hall. 

Run by Our Home, a Korean food company that owns franchises such as Saboten, Burger Hunter has eight popular branches in Seoul and Busan.

The diner, which is decorated to look more like an American diner than actual American diners, features an inventive menu including the "Angry Burger" (7,500) made with spicy Korean "fire chicken," and a "PB&Jellousy Burger" (₩7,800) made with--get this--peanut butter and strawberry jam on top of bacon and a beef patty. Despite the curious ingredients, the latter is apparently frequently sought after by foreign customers. 

Those who prefer the simple standard burger should order the "Hunter Cheese Burger" (₩7,200) or the "Bacon Cheese Burger" (₩7,200) and have the grilling customized to their taste. 

Wonchang Building, 25-1 Mugyo-dong, Jung-gu (중구 무교동 25-1 원창빌딩); +82 2 389 2589; daily, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

 

Smokey Saloon

Smokey SaloonWe're not sure we like what the name suggests ...
This small burger chain is becoming increasingly popular among Korean burger connoisseurs. 

The "Ambulance Burger" (₩10,900) is one of their most popular menu items. A thick patty --usually a little overdone-- is topped with fried egg (a surprising flavor booster) and bacon  with the usual lettuce, tomato, onion and cheddar cheese. A thick hash brown is also placed beneath the patty, adding a unique touch to an already interesting concept. 

The chili cheese fries, while served in generous portions, are rather watery and the potato wedges are also lacking in overall flavor. The service also leaves a lot to be desired. 

But the burgers are good. Really good.  

123-5 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu (용산구 이태원동 123-5); +82 2 795 9019; daily, 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.


Chili King

Chili KingSloppy and spicy.
Kevin Cyr, the owner of this tiny burger joint in Itaewon started out with a chili food cart down the street from the restaurant's current location. While the menu originally featured more chili than burgers, Chili King has slowly evolved into one of Seoul's most popular burger shops. 

The most classic Chili Burger (₩11,900) is served with a 1/3 pound patty and a very liberal topping of chili and jalapenos. As it is too messy to eat with hands, using a fork and knife is recommended. 

Very flavorful and well put together, the chili is thick and has a slight spiciness which makes the burger extremely flavorful, while the Australian beef patty is juicy and tender. 

As Cyr is obsessed with hot sauce, he occasionally makes his own hot sauce creations and offers them along with dozens of bottles of hot sauce from around the world. 

Although the Itaewon location is doing well, the restaurant will be moving in a few months. A franchise plan is also in the works. 

118-62 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea (서울특별시 용산구 이태원동 118-62); +82 2 795 1303; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. www.chilikingkorea.com

 

Yaletown

YaletownThe closest thing to perfection between two buns.
Due to its location, Yaletown customers tend to be hungry college students.

Catering to its clientele, the restaurant boasts two beer pong tables as well as a decent beer and alcohol menu that offers both domestic draft beer and imports. 

The restaurant's "American Burger" (₩8,900) has an amazing charbroiled flavor that truly makes it a standout. Despite the tastiness of the burger, however, the curly fries that are included are a total disaster, as they tend to have no flavor. Regular fries are a better option. 

The "Hawaiian Burger" (₩8,900) consists of a beef patty, grilled pineapple, teriyaki sauce, cheddar cheese, onion, lettuce, and tomatoes. The teriyaki flavor with the pineapple adds a nice tang but doesn't leave the burger too sweet or lacking in charbroiled goodness. 

Poutine is also heartily recommended: the ratio of fries to gravy to mozzarella cheese ratio is perfect. 

Overall, the chemistry between all of the accompanying flavors in the burger easily makes Yaletown's burgers some of the best burgers in Seoul. 

33-5, 3/F Changcheon-dong, Seodaemun-gu (서대문구 창천동33-5 3 층); +82 2 333 1604; daily, 11a.m.-midnight 

 

Kitchen, W Hotel

x burger The nation's most expensive burger.
W Hotel's X-Burger is the burger that trumps all gourmet burgers in the country.

Can't imagine why a burger would cost ₩150,000 (approximately US$130 USD) The answer is foie gras (duck liver), truffles, and lobster tail, with a scrumptiously seasoned patty made from Wagyu beef.

This monster of a burger comes with three sauces (mushroom mayonnaise, mushroom with wine sauce, and tomato salsa) that are provided separately.

The succulence of the two-centimeter-thick Wagyu patty and the rich flavor of the foie gras is a divine experience.

San 21, Gwangjang-dong, Gwangjin-gu (광진구 광장동 산21); +82 2 2022 0111; 6:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; dress code: smart casual (no atheletic wear, shorts, or slippers)

 

Patty Patty

Upgrading is recommended.
Run by the owners of Samwon Garden, the Apgujeong staple of Korean barbecue, and expensive steakhouse Butcher's Cut, Patty Patty is loyal to the basics of the burger, as evidenced by the names on the menu:  ASAP (As Simple As Possible. ₩6,500), BRB (Bitable, Real, Basic, ₩7,000), and Zola Simple (₩8,000). 

Foreign banks and finance firms love to order delivery from the Jung-gu branch, located near Cheonggyecheon. 

While the burgers are significantly smaller in size compared to the others on this list, that doesn't make them any less delicious. The option of upgrading the patties from 180 grams to 200 grams is also available. 

Center One Building, 67 Suha-dong, Jung-gu (중구 수하동 67번지 센터원빌딩); +82 2 6030 8940; daily, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.


Jacoby's Burger

Jacoby's BurgerCustomizable goodness.
Perhaps the most customizable burger menu in Seoul, Jacoby's is perfect for picky eaters.

Ordering is very systematic as they allow the customer to fill out a form, which allows the individual to add or subtract any desired component of the meticulous art of burger formation.

There is an option for a white or wheat bun, eight different cheeses, rosemary or garlic half-pound patty, cooked medium or well-done, grilled or fresh onions, tomatoes or no tomatoes, and other extras such as bacon and egg. Each add-on is an additional 1,000. A vegetarian patty option is also available.

The rosemary patty offers a very unique flavor and keeps the burger tasting peppery and well seasoned. However, the patties tend to be very crumbly  and lack structure, making it hard to eat with your hands.

The atmosphere of the restaurant is similar to that of a bar, with a dim lights, loud (and rather random) music and a wide variety of draft and bottle beers, shooters and cocktails.

Unfortunately the service verges on terrible, with rude and unhelpful employees. Drinks are just placed on the bar next to the table without even a word, and when a customer asks for a recommendation they get a dirty attitude instead. As good as the burgers may be, the service might make customers think twice about a return visit. 

45-6 Yongsan-dong 2-ga, Yongsan-gu (용산구 용산동2동 45-6); +82 2 3785 0433; daily, 11 a.m.-midnight

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