Best Burger in Seoul?

It is Saturday night and I’m driving around Mokdong in the Avante with two of my consigliere.  I have Madonna’s second album playing at full volume.  The first track, “Material Girl”, was written by Peter Brown, who also includes Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen among his clients.  The high-heeled 1984 skip pop jam hit prompts one of my consigliere to question my choice of music for today’s grueling Seoul traffic anxiety-fest.  “Material Girl”, I explain, is a song that is not only still relevant 28 years after its first release, but is actually quite reflective of Korean society as a whole.  However, while Madonna’s idea of a “Material Girl” was an ambitious career woman fighting to get ahead, the Korean version would be more of a disappointing, vapid, room salon girl addicted to Prada bags and plastic surgery.

 

Some boys kiss me, some boys hug me
I think they’re O.K.
If they don’t give me proper credit
I just walk away

They can beg and they can plead
But they can’t see the light, that’s right
‘Cause the boy with the cold hard cash
Is always Mister Right,

 

It’s actually a VERY Korean song, except it wasn’t written, or performed, or ripped off, or plagiarized by a K-pop bimbette troupe.  But whenever I fire up this album and the first track loads, I can’t help but think of how suitable this song is for the Korean experience:

 

Some boys try and some boys lie but
I don’t let them play
Only boys who save their pennies
Make my rainy day

 

Prompting further visible discomfort from my friends, I skip to the third track, “Like a Virgin”, written by Billy Sterling and Tom Kelly, who count Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, and Cindy Lauper as clients.  “Like a Virgin” is the first song that pops into my head whenever I attend a wedding in Korea.  It’s got an upbeat Billie Jean style bass line coupled with a “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” poppy, synthesizer kind of edge.  This song also serves as an excellent backdrop on those rainy nights, when all you want to do is check into a hotel, change all the light bulbs to pink, throw on your Pororo print panties, school girl uniform, and ankle socks, and then dance like a bad girl while pouting your duck lips and blowing kisses in front of the mirror (you little slut).

 

I made it through the wilderness
Somehow I made it through
Didn’t know how lost I was
Until I found you

I was beat incomplete
Id been had, I was sad and blue
But you made me feel
Yeah, you made me feel
Shiny and new…

 

But I’m not really here to talk about music today.  What I’m here to talk about is burgers.  Man stuff.  You remember burgers, right?  You used to eat them before you moved to Korea.  I remember them too.  You know me; I never write about food.  I hate food blogs, and Korea blogs, and Korea food blogs that review and post pictures of food in Korea.  I hate foodies, and people who take pictures food, and people who take pictures of coffee, and mixed drinks, and then pose with the cup next to their face, as if to prove to everyone that they did in fact consume what they just photographed.  What’s wrong with these people?  That being said, this is the one and only time you will ever read a restaurant review on this website.  I am very particular when it comes to food.

 

Best Burger in Korea?

Madonna album turned down, and we’ve been circling around Mokdong for about 40 minutes looking for this place.  The problem is that we have all been to this restaurant, just never by car.  So we aren’t quite sure where it is.  All the buildings look the same in Korea.  Generic poured concrete blocks filled with PC rooms, Cafes, Icecream shops and Pizza Shops.  If you’ve seen one block in Seoul, you’ve seen them all.  We circle and circle the block where we are fairly certain the restaurant in question (Hallasan Burger) is located.

Hallasan (한라산)  is the name of the volcano on Jeju island.  The volcano has no connection to burgers whatsoever.  The name was just a fluke idea by the restaurant’s owner.  Rumor has it that the Korean owner/head chef of Hallasan Burger studied for three years at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York before apprenticing under epic chef Eric Ripert.  The owner recently returned to Korea, and while serving as head chef at two large hotels, has opened this small boutique burger joint on the second floor of a nondescript building in Mokdong.  From my previous visit to Hallasan Burger, I remember that there are no actual signs on the outside of the building.  There is only a small green and yellow sign in the elevator area of the dingy, otherwise cookie-cutter office building in the heart of Mokdong.

I searched and searched the internet for directions, but this place doesn’t have a website (yet, that I know of), and so we took to the streets and searched for the place the old fashioned way; by going from building to building.  Finally, my friend spots what looks like the building.  He gets out and runs into the stairway to look for the green and yellow placard that reads “Hallasan” in Korean.  We have arrived.  There is no actual parking in the building itself, so you will have to park in the garage of the Officetel next door (with Thai restaurant), if you drive.

We park, exit the garage, and walk back to the “Hallasan” building.  The elevator is out of order and we take the stairs to the second floor.  On the second floor, there is a strange bar with black walls, and black lights hung all over the place.  They have a few white cats running around the bar, which adds to the creepiness, I suppose.  Past that bar and on the right side is Hallasan Burger, the small sign on the door is only in Korean, and lists the opening hours as 12pm to 3pm, and 7pm to 10pm.  We arrive around 7:30 and all twelve seats are already taken.

The single waiter, who speaks no English tells us to wait outside, and he will call us when a table is ready.  The three of us can already smell what we’ve come for; what is probably the best burger and fry set in all of Korea.  Collectively, the three of us have been in Korea for over 30 years.  That’s a lot of food, a lot of restaurants tried, a lot of burgers, and a lot of disappointment.  Searching for the perfect burger in Korea is a kind of Holy Grail challenge that can be all-consuming.  Personally, I stopped eating burgers a long time ago, because the disappointment of poorly executed burger after poorly executed burger started to wear me down; chip away at my soul.  You can only be disappointed so many times before you start to lose hope.

After about 20 minutes, the waiter comes out and tells us that a table is available.  We walk inside and sit down.  It’s a small place, with a half exposed kitchen, a single refrigerator, and three tables with four chairs each.  There is one waiter, and the chef/owner mans the kitchen with the help of a single trainee.  The menu is a single page of tan colored paper with only five burger options.  Previously, I had the “K1 ‘Premium’ Burger”, but today I order the “House Hanwoo Steak Dream Burger”, which is a flat-grilled, crisp edged cheeseburger, using grain fed hanwoo (Korean) beef.  The patty is accompanied by shredded romaine lettuce, fresh tomato, onion, cheddar cheese and generously sized slices of avocado.  The sauce is something like a mayo-wasabi mix.  Price:  23,000 KRW:

House Hanwoo Steak Dream Burger from Hallasan Burger, Mokdong, Seoul

House Hanwoo Steak Dream Burger from “Hallasan Burger”

One of my friends orders the “Seoul Burger”, which according to the menu, has a mix of rump, rib-eye and fillet steak, served with a side of béarnaise sauce, -almost impossible to find in Korea.  When it arrives, the “Seoul Burger” is somewhat disappointing.  It arrives with standard fast food trimmings, and processed cheese, which is a bit of a letdown considering the 19,000KRW price tag :

"Seoul Burger" from Hallasan Burger, Seoul.  Best Burgers in Seoul

“Seoul Burger” from Hallasan Burger, Seoul

My other friend orders the “Island Bacon Sandwich”, which is not a burger, but actually a Reuben sandwich with extra lean corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and thousand island dressing on grilled rye bread.  The set includes oven baked, sea-salt and vinegar potato chips and one 1/4 sliced kosher dill pickle.  Price:  21,000KRW:

"Island Bacon Sandwich" from Hallasan Burger, Seoul.  Best Burger in Seoul.

“Island Bacon Sandwich” from Hallasan Burger, Seoul

It is worth nothing that the only available sides are house-baked sea salt and vinegar potato chips, or what the menu calls “duck fat skin-on” chips.  Personally, I prefer the duck fat skin-on chips because the sea salt chips are a touch sweet and for me, slightly under-seasoned.  Each burger or sandwich is served with a single 1/4 cut kosher dill pickle (no Korean pickles here, for the love of Christ).  The owner/chef doesn’t offer any drinks aside from water, and there are no sauces or seasonings available at the tables.  The walls are a dark green in color, and the tables look like re-purposed doors surrounded by short-legged bar stools.

Though I can’t speak for the other dishes, I will offer a short review of the “House Hanwoo Steak Dream Burger”.  This overall dish had good balance, the acidity of the kosher dill working well with the richness of the hanwoo patty, though by contrast with the duck fat skin-on chips, this dish seemed a touch salty.  The hanwoo patty itself was of high quality and had silky smooth texture yet deep, intense flavor.  With wasabi-mayo and avocado slices, it could be argued that there was kind of a “California Roll” flavor going on here.  The oven baked buns are made in-house, and present a slight hint of garlic seasoning, but not enough to be overpowering.  The burger was not so large as to be messy, and could be enjoyed without the use of fork or knife.  This restaurant is not typical Korean plastic-chemical fast food fare, nor is it gimmicky Itaewon/HBC “please take a photo of our food” fare.  Just honest burgers, with no options and minimal sides.  So confident is the owner/chef, that you cannot even choose how long your patty is cooked.  Simply order, and wait.  No nonsense, no whining, no endless options to customize.

The bill came to 63,000KRW for three of us.  Water is free, of course.  There is no restroom inside of the actual restaurant (the place is tiny), so you will need to use the restroom in the hallway outside of the restaurant.  Since no alcohol is served, people tend to eat, and then vacate their seats as opposed to loitering around.  Previously I had come during lunch time, and I didn’t have to wait, but I’ve heard that evenings are much busier, and on weekends, the wait time can be from 20 to 30 minutes.  I heard about this place from a friend, who is a chef at a well known French restaurant.  I doubt that many foreigners have been inside the place, since it only opened two months ago.  The technical precision in the kitchen is hard to fault, and the dishes had lovely flavor balance. The limiting factor for any Korean kitchen is the ultimate quality of the ingredients that can be obtained, especially with regards to vegetables (compared to the finest produce in the Mediterranean or Japan) but the owner of Hallasan Burger is clearly a top class chef. His cooking and own style have clearly developed from years spent overseas.

Best Burger in Korea?  After years of searching, I can confidently say “Yes”.

They don’t yet have a website (that I know of), so I do not have the exact address.  I’ve done my best to mark the location on the maps below.  You go out Exit 8 of Omokgyo station, turn left at the first side street, and the proceed down the street for about 100 meters until you see Kimbap Cheonguk (김밥천국) on your right.  Turn right immediately after passing Kimbap Cheonguk.  Go another 50m and you should find yourself at the intersection below.  Because there was no address on the building, I can only point you towards the general area (see picture 2).  Look for the “A+” room salon with red windows on the second floor:

Hallasan Burger, Voted Best Burger in Seoul Korea

Second floor, check the stairway for the green and yellow sign.

Hallasan Burger, Voted Best Burger in Seoul Korea

Within walking distance of Omokgyo Station.

 

This entry was posted in Best Burger in Korea, Best Seoul Restaurants, Expats Helping Expats, Life in Korea, Seoul Eats, The Expat. Bookmark the permalink.

96 Responses to Best Burger in Seoul?

  1. Via Korea says:

    What the fuck is up with that Seoul Burger? It looks deflated.

    The Lemon Table franchise used to have acceptable, overpriced burgers until they changed their burger menu a few years back. Now they serve offal in their burgers.

    I have a candidate for the worst burgers in Korea: rice burgers. A place in my area serves a spicy chicken teriyaki kimchi n’ cheese rice burger to assuage your exacting fusion taste buds. Everything they make is bursting with contradictory flavors.

    I’d trade all of Korea’s 5th grade attempts at making burgers for one double-double with grilled onions.

    • The Expat says:

      The bun on the Seoul Burger was nice and puffy when it arrived, but my friend put his hands all over it before I could snap a photo, hence the deflated look of it.

  2. The Baron says:

    uh oh, this is a slippery slope, Jake.

    • The Expat says:

      A man needs his red meat.

      • The Baron says:

        It’s true. When one gets tired of burning his own meat over a fire, this is the place to go. Funny coincidence that you reviewed this place of all places, as I was there about a month ago. I was just surprised at the fact that you did a K-food review on your blog, but I suppose if any restaurant is worth mentioning on ExpatHell, it’s this one, for we westerners often crave a quality burger reminiscent of home.

        I never would have known about this place myself, but a Kyopo girlfriend took me there. I got the Kobe Kalamata burger. It was basically a well-executed Greek salad with tzatziki (my fav!) on a juicy patty (probably not %100 Kobe, but still). Either way I couldn’t believe they were featuring Japanese beef, but perhaps that is a sign that this place is well above your typical Korean joint, with a worldy appreciation for the art of food, and not mired in cultural baggage. I never thought I’d pay that much for a burger (wanted to impress my date), but it was worth it. This wasn’t just the best burger I’d had in Seoul, but the best I’d had ANYWHERE.

        I was planning on going back there sometime soon with my new girlfriend, but with this post you may have ruined that opportunity for me. Thanks, Jake.

        FYI – yeah it feels kind of weird not ordering a beer with your burger, but when I asked they said it was BYOB, so next time I’m rolling in with an Asahi tall boy.

        • SteveM says:

          Are they really BYOB? I’ve been there a few times and have never seen anyone with alcohol… but if it’s doable…

          What pairs perfectly with the Hanwoo burger you figure?

          • The Baron says:

            Perfectly?
            Gotta be a Highland Imperial Kashmir. At 10.2% ABV, your meal couldn’t get any better. Good luck finding those over here in Seoul, though. But any bitter IPA pairs well with avocado.

  3. . says:

    How was the behavior of the other clientele? Was it Koreans acting civilized for once?

  4. Stevie B says:

    Is this place better than Dokdo-It Burger?

    • jetrash says:

      Nowhere is better than Dokdo-It Burger. I’ll certainly check it out, but if its better than Dokdo-It, I will eat my hat. Jake knows nothing about food, he’s
      an uncultured animal.

      • The Expat says:

        I heard that place closed down.

        • Stevie B says:

          Really? Damn. I knew it was too good to be true.

          • jetrash says:

            It had to close as the owner didn’t have the correct permits, and there was a problem with the bank. He’s sorted all that out now, and has reopened in a new location. You either know where it is, or you don’t. I don’t want over-groomed Klowns and bearded FOB Hipsters smearing the place up.

            I’ll try your new place, a few guys (whose culinary credentials I rate) have told me its quite good, but I’m still loyal to Dok-do It, until I taste the difference with my own tongue.

  5. SteveM says:

    While I agree that Hallasan Burger (HSB) is, by far, the best burger I’ve ever had in Korea, with the space being as limited as it is there, I wonder why you’ve posted the review up here. It’s supposed to be the best-kept secret burger.

    I was there once and they actually ran out of meat. Granted it was near closing and they had been running at capacity all day (I’m guessing), but still… Someone’s going to link this post up on Dave’s and then the food bloggers are going to get a hold of it… Soon the 20 minute wait will be a 40 minute wait.

    Well, whatever. With the baby on the way I probably won’t be able to go there anyway. Have at ‘er. I personally like the Hanwoo burger, and the Island/Reuben sandwich is really tasty, especially on a cold day. I don’t care as much for the Seoul burger, but that might have more to do with the presentation than with the taste.

    Clientele is certainly above average for a Korean joint. I’ve seen a few K-hipster types there, and a ton of gyopos. Like, every gyopo in western Seoul is there, especially the overweight ones. Of course, I generally trust a portly person to be a good judge of food.

    Not cheap, but worth it… both for the taste of home and the peace of not having to be in Itaewon.

    • SteveM says:

      Maybe you can do a review of that Memphis-style BBQ place we found on the other side of the river? I can still taste the pulled pork and ribs…

      • T3W says:

        That Memphis BBQ place has become popular with hipster trash, but it’s still worth a stop in.

        • SteveM says:

          I’ll take hipsters over ajosshi any day.

          They weren’t the best BBQ I’ve had ever, but certainly the best in Korea. I like that they had the huge, open charcoal grill out in an open kitchen so we could see (smell) everything sizzling… and of course we didn’t need to cook it ourselves. I could have used more napkins…

  6. Hexpat says:

    I’ve been hankering for a proper burger for a while so I’ll head by there this week-end and post my review of the place.

    • Hexpat says:

      I ate there yesterday. I wanted to eat there last week-end, but I had to go visit the in-laws for some atrocity bathed in liquid red atrocity.

      First off, though the map might seem unclear at first it is quite easy to find following the instructions. Got out of the subway went around the block and there it was.

      So we get there and the joint is definitely understated, but in a good way. You know this place caters to people who want a big juicy burger with bacon and not some kimchi/garlic toppings on top of a cereal patty. This place is all about the burger.

      I’m not a big fan of tower style burger, so I ordered the Seoul burger pictured above. The high point of the burger was definitely the big juicy patty that clocks in at around an inch thick and covers the whole bun. This is a big beef patty, unlike what Burger B has turned it’s pathetic burgers into. That said, the patty is expertly cooked, remains juicy and comes out strong with its flavor. The bun and the cheese are pretty standard fares, but did complement nicely the burger.

      I did order two extra orders of bacon to add on my burger since I don’t go out to enjoy burgers that often. These were the thick cut bacon, which is a lot more flavorful than the thin slices this kind of joint usually gives and miles above pre-cooked bacon.

      The fries were good quality and they even provided mayonnaise (Hellman’s) when I asked for it, since I prefer my fries with mayo rather than ketchup. I usually get the runaround when I ask for mayo with my fries rather than ketchup, so I was glad when it promptly arrive. This may seem minor, but it’s not.

      Overall, this is definitely the best burger joint in Seoul. This is ten times better than Burger B and much better than Brooklyn: The Burger Joint or that godawful Jacoby’s. As long as they can keep up the quality, I have no reason to look for another burger joint in Seoul as this offers burgers on the level that I would expect at top places back home.

      Cheers.

  7. I’ve eaten there three times in one week. It is by FAR, the best burger in Seoul. Much better than the Dok-Double-Trouble burger at Nippon’s.

    • jetrash says:

      Fuck you, you always had a bad attitude and no idea what an authentic burger should taste like.
      Still trying to knock up ‘authentic’ BBQ ribs at home using gasoline, wood chip s and that old oil drum you found floating in the Han River?

  8. TexRudeBoy says:

    I ate there with my wife and her sister a month or so ago, and while they had messed up my order (i wanted the Hallasan special, but got the bacon club instead), it was so greasy and succulent – exactly what my hangover needed – that i couldn’t really complain.

    Word to the wise, however, the chef whatshisface (i was so drunk that i actually forgot his name!?) really, REALLY, likes heavy, greasy american style food….. So a trip the the hospital for a cholesterol checkup should be next on your agenda after stopping by here.

    • JustinBeibersBallsack says:

      Fucker didn’t give me any booze when I was in.

      Still, I’d go back in a heartbeat if my schedule allowed it.

      • Duffman says:

        I went in a few weeks ago with my wife, the BIL and his girlfriend. I really do enjoy a beer with my burger so I brought one in with me from the GS25 nearby. He really didn’t seem to mind.

        • The Baron says:

          Yeah, there’s no reason why they should mind if you provide your own adult beverage. The reason they don’t sell booze in the first place is to prevent the Korean patrons from loitering after their meal. Brilliant, if you ask me.

  9. Alain says:

    Patty and veggies. Best burger place in Seoul.

  10. thegreatbambi says:

    I haven’t actually been but it’s so funny you posted about this. One of my closest friends here was raving about this place just a few weeks ago. It just goes to show you, Seoul is, among other things, its own kind of a small city. After this post, I’m definitely going this weekend.

  11. bored2tears says:

    You must have been in Expat Burger Hell for a California Roll burger with avocado to be the best burger in Seoul. Either that or you’re from the west coast and in serious danger of being a little hipster yourself. After years of burger exile. Nothing less than charcoal grilled, dressed with a big slab of beefsteak tomato, raw Vidalia onion, old fashioned iceberg lettuce and Duke’s Mayonnaise would do for me. No beefsteaks available, then grilled onions, kosher pickle and spicy brown mustard. Oh yeah, no charcoal, then fried on a flat top with home cut fries. Arteries be damned.

    • SteveM says:

      If you want a more traditional burger, there is an option there for you, but the more modern burgers are most definitely worth the try (well, at Hallasan anyway, I can’t vouch for other joints like Jacobys). I mean, there are “California Roll” burgers and then there are “California Roll” burgers. Comparing one to the other is like comparing a VIPS or Seven Springs steak to a trip to Morton’s Steakhouse – there is no comparison.

      If it has avacado, or caramelized onions or carne asada sauce… I don’t give a shit as long as what it DOES have works perfectly on my tastebuds.

      There is a talent and subconscious skill to making the perfect burger, as any North American who has frequented back yard barbeques can attest. One either knows the secret or not, knows how the bun and veggies and patty play or not, knows when to flip or not. The guy at HSB has that sixth burger sense, so he can put whatever he wants on the bun and I’ll trust that it will beat the teeth out of anything Itaewon can muster.

  12. KeepEmSeparated says:

    Uh… what the hell. Is Jake on the payroll at Arirang now? And photos of food?!

    Fighting Corea Burger Very Delicious

  13. theghostcoast says:

    Has anyone been to J’s Burger in Baeksok? The owner is a gyopo, and the server is from California. Best burger I’ve had, but never tried Hallasan.

  14. Smokes says:

    Oh hell no! Forget the burgers, let’s backtrack to everything between:
    “check into a hotel,”
    and
    ” (you little slut).”

    Dude wtf? That was gold… where could it have gone, what other deprived things had this mystery woman had planned? Ex-mother-f`ing-spand please. :)

    Man I’ll say `theHell’s been a bit of a snooze last few months but you were on to something there. That was truly the styling of the old `Hell I drunkenly stumbled upon one night and slurred “noww tis ish a phunny fuching shite!” all over the keyboard.

  15. Baek, In-je says:

    I think you’re taking the piss, Sunny Jim. You’re taking pictures of lunch and uploading it, next you’ll be answering your Galaxy from your Prada bag. I think your fucking with us.

  16. Gyeongi-doh says:

    Jake, I’m sorry but I have to lay down the law. Next time you do a food review (photos included) I insist the waiter be a trannie. Better still, you’re with your wife and the trannie reconizes you from Itaewon. Awkwardness ensues. You don’t immediately recognize him, but your wife notices the trannie talking with the cook and pointing towards your table. “Jake, do you know the waiter?” “The waiter, no I don’t thi….” Faint recognition, then a sudden flashback to shagging the trannie from behind, pulling at her hair for traction, and her wig coming off revealing a dude’s bald head. You recall that, humiliated, the trannie swore she was leaving the business, and would most likely go to work in her uncle’s restaurant. All of this returns to you in a flash, and your wife notices the hint of recognition in your eyes. “Honey?” “No, no, I thought I recognized him for a moment, but no…definitely no.” Your order comes, but instead of the item you ordered you receive the Manly ‘Big Beef’ Burger. “Your burger looks huge, honey. Is that what you ordered? “Why no, my love, they’ve given me the Manly ‘Big Beef’ Burger.” “But why the fuck would they do that? I’ll get the waiter.” As she turns to wave to the waiter she she’s him already approaching, fresh lipstick applied, and the wig placed perfectly on her head. Dinner was getting interesting.

    Then you can tell us about best burger in Seoul. But first, your fan base demands trannies.

  17. D Expat says:

    Long time no see!
    Will definitely check this place out ASAP!
    Tbh, the k-gf knows burger quality better than me, so won’t she be pleasantly surprised.
    Thanks

  18. Buzz says:

    @Gyeongi-doh – Burger and trannies – Nice combo.

  19. Jang says:

    If I remember correctly, the Immigration office is a 10 minute walk out of exit #7, so the joint is just around the corner. I can’t see myself paying that much for a burger(Hanwoo) or sandwich. I couldn’t help but notice there ain’t any bacon with that “Island Bacon Sandwich”? At least the joint is consistent, there ain’t no burgers spewing out of volcanoes. All he’d have to do is create a volcano grill.

  20. McGee says:

    At its best, the duality of this blog (the author’s vitriol for Korea juxtaposed with his refusal to leave the country) was worth a chuckle.

    Now it’s clearly just another seouleats.

    • jetrash says:

      No, I think the level of food critique has potential to be far superior to Seouleats. Once Jake has had time to really get his teeth into the seoul dining scene, when combined with his exciting and investigative writing style, I’m sure we will be discovering all sort of hidden gems.
      This can only be good for the community, and indeed help push Koreas fragile dining scene, screaming and shouting, into the 21st century.

      McGee, I think you are 100% wrong. Until you can provide us with similar dynamic and surprising fresh dining experiences, you should keep your ideas to yourself.

  21. Baek, In-je says:

    How about another taste test, Jake? Do a review of the Korean Y.

  22. waeg says:

    I can only guess there is some understanding of the special situation that played into this, or a lost bet.

  23. Dongduchoke says:

    I’m still laughing at “grueling Seoul traffic anxiety fest.” Great article; will be trying this place soon.

    • Gyeongi-Doh! says:

      Dongduchoke, I like your user name. Can I assume you live(d) in Dongducheon? I lived there and the air quality was horrendous. Surrounded by leather factories it is. “Dongduchoke” says everything you need to know about the place. I’d ride my bicycle and when I’d get home my eyes would be red from the pollution and I’d be wheezing. An awful place.

      • SteveM says:

        How exactly is that distinguishable from the rest of Korea?

      • Dongduchoke says:

        That would be a correct assumption. TDC does indeed have some terrible pollution problems. While Korea as a whole has these problems, TDC emits a special brand of fucking disgusting air.

        • Gyeongi-Doh! says:

          Man, it was terrible. I couldn’t even sleep with my window open during the summer. The air was disgusting. I ended up buying an expensive air purifier for my apartment to tackle the pollution that came in. I feel sorry for any kid growing up there with asthma.

          Dreadful place.

  24. Deluxe Nuts says:

    55 comments and not one about the price.
    Fuck $20 hamburgers when we’re from the land of $20 steaks.

  25. RPP says:

    The perfect burger? 20 bucks? Holy crap, you guys are out of your minds. No burger should ever cost over 10 bucks. The burger is not, and never was intended to be, gourmet fare. It is a blue collar, working man’s food; it is the common man’s dish; the thing that truckers eat on their way from Reno, Nevada to Mobile, Alabama. Any man who dishes out 20 bucks to eat gourmet burgers forgoes his claim to membership in the most select club on earth: that of Real Men. The 20 buck burger is the ticket to the foodie club, limp wrists and a lisp; it is only acceptable if you carry a Louis Vuitton manbag. Enjoy. The ONLY way a burger should ever be that expensive is if it was priced by weight of the MEAT.

    • The Expat says:

      Please understand Korea’s unique food ingredient situation. Nobody on this site would pay over 10 dollars for a ‘real’ burger back home. We’d all laugh at it. But Korea is ‘special’.

      • RPP says:

        Make your own, man. Pay a little for the best beef, have it ground, buy your own ingredients and for 20 bucks you can have several big ass burgers with full control over quality. You can find high quality American beef in Seoul. I would never, on sheer principle, pay 20 bucks for a burger. Never.

        • The Expat says:

          The patty is only part of the problem. What about the bun? What about real pickles?

          • RPP says:

            Eh, the patty is 90% of the thing. Real pickles? I once picked up real nice dill pickles somewhere … check COSTCO or the place in Itaewon across from the Cheil building. Where is the guy at Halla sourcing his buns and pickles from? Obviously somewhere in Seoul. Would it take Sherlock Holmes to solve that mystery?

    • . says:

      Koreans insist on adding disgusting shit to Western food. They have no idea why hamburgers are the way they are. Twenty dollars for an authentic American hamburger unsullied by Korean cooking is well worth it.

  26. unrepentant says:

    Finally something to do on the way to go to immigration. On the way back I suppose it can be that room salon if not imprisoned. BTW does anyone have a review of that place?

  27. LaFoix says:

    Great post~ and on a bit of a reverse note; how about this for a foodie story:

    The wife’s cousin recently got married. The wife is Korean, as are the newly weds, obviously. The wife’s cousin (the groom) and his new bride are both higher-end salary ‘men’ and don’t want for a few bucks, so they decide to head to Dubai for the honeymoon, splashing out on rooms at the Armani Hotel in the new Khalifa skyscraper tower thingy. All very expensive.

    So, after a few days of their 5 day honeymoon half a world away (weird!) the wife realises that they can’t get – wait for it – KOREAN F***ING NOODLES anywhere in Dubai. They end up travelling to some outer limits desert burg where there’s a K-Food store catering for Korean freaking engineers working on some freaking energy project!! (Apparently.) So, the wife gets heatstroke and he gets dehydrated, and they spend the rest of their honeymoon laid up in their very expensive hotel suite!!

    Thing is, Dubai is a foodie paradise, and the buffet in the Armani hotel prides itself as being one of the world’s best!!! IT’S HUGE!!! and caters to all the (well heeled) foreigners who visit Dubai from EVERYWHERE in the world for work, business and pleasure…

    …but the two Koreans couldn’t get cheap shit packet ramen anywhere (until a kind – and no doubt bewildered concierge made a few calls and had to direct them out into the f**king DESERT!!. Consequently, their holiday was ruined. AND (as the wife later told me) they were too tight arsed to arrange payment with the concierge for some peasant to drive out and pick up the ramen for them.

    Aaaaaaaah~~~ Koreans. UN-F***ING-BELIEVABLE~~ the new Japan, indeed!! I wouldn’t be holding my breath.

    • SteveM says:

      Ah Klowns. So unbelievable for so long now that it’s unbelievable when they don’t act like Klowns.

      New Japan? Pffffft. So many things in the way of THAT aspiration.

  28. Mikey says:

    After searching for a long time, I finally located this place. Incredible! I never thought I’d have a decent burger in Korea. How long before the hipsters mob this place?

  29. Mark says:

    I walked for what seemed like eternity looking for this place. Didn’t find it. I totally did a spiral search from exit 8 of Omokgyo station, I was that desperate. I didn’t even see the damn A+ salon…. :( Would someone who’s been there post a map that’s a little more detailed please? I can haz Hallasan chezburger?

  30. JustinBeibersBallsack says:

    Find the Paris Baguette nearest exit 8 of Omokgyo Station, should be near there. Could be Paris Croissant though.

    • SteveM says:

      No man, it’s not a “Paris” anything. It’s one of those newer, looks-like-independent-but-is-just-a-cafe-bene-wanna-be places. Actually… it might have “Paris” in the name. I know they have some bread in the window, but I could have sworn I didn’t recognize the store name. I usually just go by memory of window displays. I’m fucked if that bread store goes belly up though as the Hallasan corner is almost impossible to find without it.

    • SteveM says:

      Also, I think you mean exit 6, not 8

      • Mike says:

        Is it exit 6 or 8?
        We’ve been scouring every side street after following the directions from both exit 6 and 8 but still can’t find that corner with the A sign.

  31. mfk says:

    Finding this place was no easy challenge, but the Expat’s directions were good enough to point me in the right direction.

    I had the House Hanwoo Steak Dream burger. When I took the first bite from that burger, my entire worldview on the food here changed. It felt like I had flown back to America and had just taken a bite of a burger from a 5-star restaurant. I’ve been eating letdown after letdown here. Kraze Burger. Johnny Rocket’s. MOS Burger. All expensive and halfassed Korean and Japanese attempts. It seemed that nobody here knows what makes a burger decent. Then the Expat came along and shared this gem.

    The restaurant looks like a dump, but my God the burgers more than make up for it. I left a poorer man but with a richer feeling inside.

  32. Mike says:

    I work around the corner from here (for another 3 weeks). My coworkers saw this article in October and vowed to find it before we moved away from Mokdong in March. Our time is dwindling!

    Today we spent an hour wandering around the area that we thought we knew well and couldn’t find it. We’ll check again tomorrow and follow the directions explicitly but if anyone has any tips let us know!

    • SteveM says:

      It’s a side street off a side street of that helps or makes any sense. Look for the knot of cars parked on the street, making it virtually impossible to navigate the corner in a vehicle.

    • The Baron says:

      I don’t know why some people are having such a tough time finding this place, it’s not that difficult. Although to be honest, the first time I went a Korean had taken me, so it was easy to get back to the next time.

      They really need to get a website up though. But i guess the fact that they simply don’t need one speaks volumes as to how well they are quietly doing.

      • SteveM says:

        Jesus. The last thing that place needs is a website.

        Can you imagine the Klowns destroying the place the way they have multiple Itaewon establishments?

        Best thing about Hallasan burger, besides the food? Nobody taking pictures of their food to show on Kakao Story. In fact, Jake might have been the only one in the place taking cell phone pics of the burgers.

        That, and the abundance of table napkins. Napkin stinginess at a place that serves real burgers is a major sin.

        • Mike says:

          Is that map accurate? We’ve been down every side street from omok-ro to mokdong-dong-ro; spent an hour 2 days this week trying to find it. Good thing we work around the corner or I’d have given up by now

          • SteveM says:

            I never take the subway, so I don’t really know exits… I’ll try to be as helpful as possible with landmarks but every street and every neighborhood in this city looks exactly the same as the one next to it. You kind of just go by your own instinctual GPS after a while…

            It’s toward immigration from the subway for sure. There is a public school close by, and it’s in the midst of several streets that “V-out”, meaning head off on an angle from whatever semblance of a grid system there is. The corner stores in the immediate vicinity are mostly mom-and-pop places. The “knot” of parked cars contains a few Starex-sized hagwon buses if you go outside of hagwon hours. It’s at least a block and half in from any main roads, but the block sizes are erratic with some block edges being only 50m long and others being 300m. Honestly, there just is nothing unique or particularly of note in the area, it just looks like the rest of Seoul.
            On the plus side, once you find it you’ll have no trouble finding it again and will kind of kick yourself for not having found it earlier.

      • RPP says:

        So I guess you answered your question, right? Its easy because someone showed you. At that point you should have stopped typing and not posted anything.

        • The Baron says:

          I suppose you don’t see the irony in a pointless comment calling someone’s else comment pointless (which it wasn’t).

          • Mike says:

            but that still doesn’t help me find some sweet delicious burgers. Can anyone confirm that it is in fact exit 8? Is that map accurate? We think its a lot farther from the exit, perhaps closer to immigration based on the comments (we’ve literally searched for like 2-3 hours and reread this page a few times)

          • The Expat says:

            Best wait until someone posts a better map. Due to Koreas address system and street naming system (or lack thereof) its really hard to give directions. It took me 2 hours to find on foot as well.

          • The Baron says:

            Don’t give up, Mike! Your diligence and dedication will make the payoff that much sweeter.

  33. Slightly Logical says:

    Pretty sure this place has the best burgers in Seoul, and I’ve tried a lot of burger places.

  34. Slightly Logical says:

    FOUND IT!

    I was cruising around the area and as I slowed down at the junction, I had this funny feeling I’d seen this scene somewhere before. It wasn’t the A+ salon that got me, it was the 김밥천국 2 doors down that set the bells ringing!

  35. SteveM says:

    Just a heads up:

    Hallasan will be closed from April 15th to the end of the month for “renovations” (or so I was told). Hopefully that truly means an update to the interior and not a change of ownership or any other such nonsense. I asked, was told it was actual renovation work the dining area, front counter and ventilation system, but 2 weeks indicates a major re-do.

    Fingers crossed it doesn’t turn into some disgusting Klown plastic nightmare interior, but honestly, if the burgers stay the same I couldn’t give a shit.

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