If you asked me what I like eating the most, I would be hesitating between many options, but one of them would for sure be hamburgers. A burger meal has everything I love: meat, bread (bun), cheese, fries, coke, and some veggies (tomato and lettuce, mainly). I like hamburgers so much, that when I went to NY for one week in 2013, I remember eating at hamburger joints for 5 meals out of the 14. I particularly liked Shake Shack and Five Guys, and never thought I’d be able to taste yummy burgers again outside of the States. But I was wrong! Seoul actually has some nice burger joints, and it’s not like I am an ignorant about burgers so I think they’re good, I’ve gotten the approval of several American friends agreeing that hamburgers here are keeping up!
So today I’m here just to talk about hamburgers in Seoul 🙂 I wanted to post my favorite places~ Most of the restaurants serving good foreign food are in Itaewon, although many chains have stores also in Hongdae area or in Gangnam area. My first hamburger crush was Left Coast. A good friend originally from San Francisco introduced this place to me, as he really liked it for its artistic flair, nice service and unique menu. “I would say they bring gourmet style to food that usually isn’t considered classy. […] Oh, and also if you like drinking, they have a decently stocked bar.”
As the management says on their website: “Left Coast offers an artisanal take on an American favorite without any of the pomp. With a focus on keeping things fresh, their goal is two-fold: to create authentic, quality burgers and a laid-back, California inspired atmosphere.”
Left Coast is in Itaewon, on the street down from exit 4. The restaurant is located on a 2nd floor, so you might have to look up to find it. The layout is open, with a bar counter, a tall table, and a few more small tables for dining. The kitchen is covered by a big glass, so you can see how they cook the hamburgers inside. On the walls, you will see many photos of San Francisco. The service is very nice and approachable and of course they speak good English, since they are from California.
The best part of Left Coast though, is the food. They make their patties from scratch and put emphasis on getting fresh ingredients only. Their menu is creative, with classic burgers, fries and mac’n’cheese on the one side, and fusion food such as baobuns, kalbi fries, or Korean inspired burgers on the other side. Sadly, I haven’t tried many things on their menu because I got obsessed with one of their signature hamburgers: the Juicy Lucy.
Juicy Lucy is basically a simple hamburger with a big dose of cheese: cheese stuffed patty, lettuce, grilled onion, and Left Coast sauce. It was so good that, once I tried it on my second visit, I stopped trying anything else. I liked the idea of having cheese come from within the meat, as stupid as it sounds, the name reminded me of one of my best friends from childhood. The hamburger is pricey (14,000W) but well worth it, and I usually get it with a half-sized thin fries, for 2,000W more and a coke or lemonade. Other menu items I’ve tried are the Kalbijjim baobun (korean braised beef in chinese buns), the pulled pork mini me (mini hamburgers, comes 2 or 3 by plate), and the handamade tater tots (deep fried grated potatoes).
|Opening hours||Every day from 11:30 to 22:00 (23:00 on Friday and Saturday)|
|Contact||02-6223-5338 and firstname.lastname@example.org|
|How to get there||Easiest is by subway to Itaewon station, exit#4. Walk down for around 100m and look at your right. It’s on a 2nd floor. Aprox. 3min walk.|
|Address||130-43 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea/ 서울특별시 용산구 이태원동 130-43 2층|
|Mimi’s Rating||8/10 (Food: 9, location: 8, price: 7, service: 8)|
|Plus||English speaking service|
Next was Firebell. I once stumbled upon this place when I went to Hanti to meet someone. That day, Firebell was closed due to Seollal, but its appearance caught my attention. I later learnt on MangoPlate app (a restaurant finder and rater app) that it was one of the better ranked burger places, and since I lived near Hanti at the time, I decided to go back and try the burgers there. Before going, I coincidentally heard one friend from Texas say that he found Firebell to be one of the best burgers in Seoul. With his approval in mind, I was really excited when I finally got there. “Hamburgers are great, they make their own patties, but the size is a bit small” is more or less what he commented.
With high expectations, I ordered the Rookie burger, because I just like simple things the most. Rookie burger consists on bun, a 5 ounce meat patty, cheese, grilled onions, homemade sauce,and bun. The bun itself is already delicious, with sesame seeds on it. The patty is cooked medium-well, and somehow it just tastes fresh. This simple yet incredibly tasty hamburger costs only 7,000won. You can add toppings like bacon, cheese or veggies for just 1,000W more, and you can also get a set menu with fries and a soda can for plus 4,000W.
Wow, besides being so delicious, it is also the cheapest good hamburger I’ve seen so far in Seoul! Although I’ve only been there twice and have had the same burger both times (yes, you start knowing me more… I go for simple and if I like one thing, I stick to it), my companions have ordered other hamburgers, so I have a notion of what the others taste like. On my first visit, Victor ordered Dr.Leo, namely the typical american burger with cheese, bacon, onions, tomato, lettuce, pickles and topped with thousand island sauce. On the second visit, I went with him and 2 more friends, and Victor had the Frozen Fire (with coleslaw, pickles and amarican white cheese), Enoch tried the Dr.Leo, and Mahao went for the Rookie but with bacon.
Apart from hamburgers, they have 4 types of fries (wedge, cheese fries, ranch & bacon fries, and chili cheese fries). We had the wedge and the ranch & bacon. The latter one was so amazing! It’s basically the same as the wedge, but covered with a creamy ranch sauce and topped with small pieces of bacon. They also serve root beer and shakes. I was doubtful about getting a shake, since I don’t think combining high calory food and super high calory drinks together, but Eno insisted, so I got the Nutella & Marshmallow shake.
Since pictures are worth a thousand words, here I leave you some more pics from Firebell. Must say, I really love their decoration too! Firebell also has a stamps-card for burgers and for shakes (separated), so once you get 9 stamps, they will give you a free burger or shake. Mine has 6 stamps already 😀
|Opening hours||Tuesday~friday 11:00~21:30 (lunch break from 15:00~16:00) and saturday~sunday from 11:00~21:30 no break. Mondays and big holidays closed.|
|Contact||02-6489-0041 and http://www.facebook.com/FIREBELLBURGER|
|How to get there||By subway to 한티 Hanti station exit 1 (bundang line, yellow) or 선릉Seollung (both bundang line exit 1 and line 2 exit 2, green). Aprox. 10minutes walk.|
|Alternatively, take bus 333, 472 (blue), 9414 (red), or 3422, 3426, 4412, 6411 (green) to the stop named 도성초등학교 (stop in between hanti and seollung, check location of the stop in the map below).|
|Address||908-17 Daechi-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul /서울시 강남구 대치동 908-17 1층 102호|
|Mimi’s Rating||9/10 (Food: 9, location: 8, price: 10, service: 9)|
|Plus||Stamps card! And a small row of outdoor seats for when weather is good.|
Well, it’s about time to end this post. There are other hamburgers I’ve tried in Seoul, but these 2 places remain my favorite. See you next time!
~Versión en Español~
Echo de menos la comida española, pero para contrastar la ausencia de buenos sitios para comer comida española (sin arruinarse), he encontrado varios lugares que hacen unas hamburguesas excelentes, y si hay algo que me guste comer tanto como la comida española o carnes en general, es la hamburguesa. Me gusta por la combinación hamburguesa (carne y pan) con patatas fritas y coca cola. No es muy sano, pero tampoco creo que sea tan malo si se toma con moderación ^^
En otros tiempos no he sabido controlarme, como cuando fui a Nueva York por una semana y comí hamburguesa 5 veces (Shake Shack y Five Guys me impresionaron), o como cuando estuve viviendo en China y descubrimos que el pub que frequentábamos tenía un especial 50% en hamburguesas a partir de las 2 am (sí, hamburguesa a las 2 de la mañana no es una buena combinación, y menos cuando vas 5 veces en una semana). Sin embargo, ahora me controlo un poco más, en parte porque no hay muchos sitios que hagan buenas hamburguesas, y también porque no son tan baratas. Pero de seguro que valen la pena.
Mis 2 favoritos aquí en Seúl son Left Coast y Firebell, sin orden en particular. Los 2 me gustan igual en sabor, pero Firebell me queda mucho más cerca y es más barato, así que últimamente voy allí más (desde que lo descubrí). Ambos ofrecen hamburguesas al estilo americano, aunque con aires diferentes. Left Coast, en Itaewon, sirve hamburguesas de alta calidad con influencia californiana, y se nota la fusión entre lo tradicionalmente americano con lo coreano. Por ejemplo, sirven unas hamburguesitas en pan chino (bao buns, from baozi) y rellenas con kalbijjim (costilla de ternera ligeramente picante). Firebell es más como una hamburguesería de In&Out, con su decoración de cuadritos rojos y blancos y sus batidos milkshakes.
Ambos restaurantes fueron recomendados por amigos americanos profesos fanes de hamburguesas bien hechas, y ambos tienen muy buenas reseñas en Internet. Si tuviera que elegir, como ya mencioné arriba, elegiría Firebell, porque sus hamburguesas son realmente jugosas y deliciosas, menos pretenciosas y mucho más baratas que en Left Coast. En sabor quizás les daría la misma nota, (Un 9?) pero incluyendo todos los factores como precio, servicio y situación (Firebell me queda a 30min a pie o 10 en bus), Firebell recibe un 9,5 y Left Coast un 8. Y para acabar, les dejo las imágenes de estos 2 maravillosos restaurantes, porque una imagen vale más que mil palabras 🙂