If you’re craving a fresh, juicy, and delicious hamburger, you can’t go wrong with these four burger shops scattered around Seoul.
Time Square, Yeongdeungpo District
Located on the ground floor of the modern Time Square shopping complex, Burger B features a large space filled with wooden tables, chairs, a bar, and a smaller outside patio area. It is lush and relaxed and matches the gourmet burgers on the menu.
The menu size is large with around eight different beef burgers, several side dishes, and other main items. Each Burger is a combo deal that comes with shoe-string fries and a shot of a vanilla shake unless otherwise specifies. While there, I tried their favorite Ultimate BB Burger and was not disappointed. The buns where air and soft and had a light toasting to them. The meat flavorful and tender and cooked slightly above medium well.
There are a few downsides. The fries, which while crispy and delicious when first served, the thinness of the fries leads to inevitably oil soaked potatoes strings. Further, although pleasant, the buns were not toasted enough which when coupled with the airiness of the buns, and fresh juicy meat led to soppy bread quicker than usual.
Fashion Steet, Hongdae District
Centrally located in Hongdae and easily found on a crowded street, Block Burger offers attractive and tasty nostalgia in the form of Lego inspired hamburgers.
Like the other places on this list, the sandwiches are made to order. However, with a small kitchen and staff, this can mean waiting 10-15 minutes for your meal so plan accordingly.
The burgers themselves are tasty, creative, and come with customizable options where patrons can choose from several different colored “block buns” and add-ons like injectable fondue cheese! A particularly pleasant surprise was the quality of the special buns.
Their visage appears hard and dry but biting into one proves the opposite. Somehow they remain soft and acceptably moist. However, due to their relatively high density of the buns compared to regular bread, any moisture from the sauce or other ingredients has a hard time soaking in. As such, things end up sliding around a bit.
Off Itaewon Street, Itaewon
I’ll say it straight off: Downtowner is Seoul’s answer to Shake Shack which rattled the native burger industry when it set up shop in the city in 2016. There is a similar haute-casual (contradictory I know, but both burger joints do it well) feel to the two places with made to order burgers, great decor, and a driving sense of purpose in taster, production, and presentation.
There are now several locations around Seoul, but the original and most popular site is down a side street in Itaewon. As such, you can expect a queue to form even late at night. And there is a reason for the line. Downtowner has made very careful decisions to create an experience for the palate and mouth for eaters.
The bun features large and fresh toasted sesame seeds that add a great texture and roasted flavor. Further, it is toasted in butter adding a delicious umami nuance. The meat is hand-formed, fresh, and cooked at medium-rare with a pale pink color visible as soon as you bite into the sandwich. A qualm I do have is that the sauce they whack on the burger overwhelmed the flavor of the patty.
Overall the restaurants lean towards a strong black pepper taste. They sprinkle the spice on their crinkle-cut fries, and the meat is heavily seasoned with it as well.
Cry Cheese Burger
Like Downtowner’s fair, anyone who has been to California’s popular burger chain In-N-Out can see a definite resemblance between the restaurant and Cry Cheese Burger, which has its own “animal style” sauce to boot!
Indeed, various reviews have noted the similarities to the U.S. based franchise but are glad something like it exists in Korea. The Gangnam branch is the newest storefront from the chain with two other located in Bucheon. However, regardless of the branch, you can expect to wait in line before ordering.
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