I wrote this article back in November for a magazine called Groove Korea. It’s Korea’s largest English-language magazine, and I’ve become a sort of restaurant reviewer for them (I did this for a bit at home in California as well). I got in touch with them when I first moved here, and have since written a few different ones which I’ll post once they hit stands. It’s a fun way to meet people and learn about new things in Seoul.
This first piece was on a burger restaurant located in Gangnam-gu (gu = district). Even though the editors fine-tuned it to make it sound just a bit more commercial/sales-like than I had originally intentioned, it’s my first official article in a physical magazine! Here’s the online version:
A TRENDY BURGER JOINT MAKES WAVES IN GANGNAM
November 28th, 2013
Since coming here from the States, I’ve been on the hunt for a good burger. I’m happy to report that I recently found what I was looking for. Nestled in the side streets of Gangnam, Brooklyn – The Burger Joint has been in business for a little less than a year, but it’s already been making waves in the scene south of the river. It’s a welcome relief from the sweet, Korean-style burgers typically found in Seoul.
I wouldn’t describe the restaurant as a hole in the wall, but the space itself is definitely not very big. At noon on a Friday, there was a consistent 15- to 20-minute wait to get a table. The crowd was full of businessmen, youngsters and middle-aged women on lunch dates with their friends.
The interior has the vibe of an East Coast diner with brick walls, stainless steel shelves and an elongated kitchen counter that lets you check out the action behind the scenes (if you’re one of those customers). The waitress was attentive and the rest of the staff were just as friendly.
The first items to arrive were our strawberry milkshake and chili cheese fries. The milkshake was thick, creamy and not too sweet, with a texture that was more reminiscent of frozen yogurt than ice cream. The fries were cut in thick slices and not too salty, smothered under a mountain of delicious melted cheese and chili.
Given the choice between a 5-ounce “smashed” or 7-ounce “hand-formed” patty, I went for the 5-ounce “Brooklyn Works.” It came with American cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onions and homemade sauce. The best part was that – and I kid you not – the bacon was grilled between the cheese and the patty, meaning it stayed perfectly still while I devoured my burger.
The other burger we ordered was called C.R.E.A.M. – Cheddar Rules Everything Around Meat. This included bacon, horseradish mayonnaise and, of course, sharp cheddar cheese. I was hesitant to try the horseradish mayonnaise at first, but it turned out be very subtle and savory. The combination is well balanced and one of their most popular items.
Gilbert Kim, the owner of this branch, says that they use three different kinds of meat in their patties: chuck eye roll, brisket and short rib. Aside from grinding it fresh every morning, the secret is apparently in the ratio of the three meats in the mix, which I couldn’t get out of him.
Since he knows that many haven’t taken to the sweet Korean sauce, Kim says their goal in creating Brooklyn – The Burger Joint was to make a burger that foreigners would enjoy. The other location is in Banpo-dong, which is owned by the creator of the chain. Word has it that he journeyed through the United States in search of the right taste to bring to Korea.
The restaurant also has a selection of Western beers and a dozen other flavors of milkshake. To top it all off, the menu is moderately priced for its portion sizes. So if you’re feeling nostalgic and craving a burger like back home, definitely head here.
Address: Seoul, Seocho-gu, Banpo-dong 551-32
Phone: (02) 533-7180