soju sunrise

Bite-size Review: Sid Burger near City Hall

restaurants | June 30, 2015 | By

2015-06-30 13.28.35On Facebook there is a rather great page called Burger Lovers Seoul, which does exactly what it says in the description. When two of the most venerable members of the group posted within a few hours of each other to say that there was a new place we should try, it was a no-brainer. So today, with a day off, I braved the humidity to walk through the city streets in search of Sid Burger.

IMG_0782

The newest venture from Sid Kim, the co-founder of Vatos, Sid Burger is no more nor less than a hole-in-the-wall concession stand in a food court in the middle of the city. Don’t let that put you off, though, because it’s a great burger, and well worth seeking out, especially if you find yourself anywhere near City Hall on a lunchtime.

IMG_0783

Once inside the “Over The Dish” food court (directions are at the bottom of this post), keep walking past the other counters and you’ll come to Sid Burger further inside.

IMG_0785

The menu is pretty simple: several varieties of burgers, all of which come with an order of fries, and all of which can be served up either as one traditional-sized burger or as two sliders. There’s a couple of variations on the fries if you’re there in a group, a couple of good beers, and a chicken sandwich which is also highly spoken of.

IMG_0786

Whatever. When I saw pork belly on the menu, I was hooked. The “bossam burger” (as it’s rendered in Korean) comes with a couple of chunks of deep-fried belly pork, a perfectly sunny-side-up fried egg, and a hit of ssamjang aioli. I knew that was my destiny, so I ordered up, paid my 11,000 won, took my buzzer and waited for it to buzz.

7 or 8 minutes later, the buzzer buzzed and I sat down to enjoy my food.

IMG_0788

As is my weird custom, I started with the chips (fries). They had a light dusting of sweet paprika and were served with a small side of ketchup. They were… OK. Neither fantastic nor bad, just OK. A little dry and crumbly, but with the ketchup I wolfed them down quickly enough all the same.

2015-06-30 13.29.29

On to the main event. The burger was great. The patty was perfectly seasoned and well-cooked, maybe a little on the well-done side of medium but very juicy, flavourful, and just – yes. The pork belly was seared to perfection and the egg worked well on top.

IMG_0792

Some on the Facebook group had commented that the burger fell apart very easily. Mine didn’t. It was a completely satisfying burger which I devoured in record time, even by my standards.

2015-06-30 13.28.58

Bear in mind this is a food court, albeit a superior one – there are a whole bunch of other franchises and people milling around eating whatever takes their fancy. So it has the ambience of a food court – don’t go expecting white linen napkins and personal service.

IMG_0794

That proviso aside, I would thoroughly recommend Sid Burger to anyone in the area. I wouldn’t necessarily travel across town for it, given that places like Left Coast and Brooklyn offer a fuller dining experience, and Firebell is right next to my office – but that’s not the market Sid is aiming for. A very nice burger in a part of town not overburdened with good quality foreign food options. Sid Burger was terrific, and I’ll be back to try the other offerings soon.

  • Category: American
  • Price: $$$$
  • Must try: Try all of them. With the mini-burger concept, this is a great place to come with friends and share a few different varieties of burger.
  • Subway: City Hall (시청역) exit 10
  • Directions: Come out of City Hall Station exit 10 and walk along the road for a hundred yards or so. You’ll come to a Paris Baguette Cafe on your right; turn down that street. Another 50 yards in front of you to the right you’ll see the large sign for the Over The Dish food court – you can’t miss it.
  • Hours: Open 7 days to the best of my knowledge, but I am not certain.

sid burger

Review: Maddux Pizza in Itaewon

restaurants | June 12, 2015 | By

IMG_0570One of things that America does better than anyone else in the world – apart from CGI dinosaurs, projecting military power around the globe and cleaning up world football – is pizza. Italians will splutter into their grappa at such a statement, and it’s true that the US has been responsible for culinary monstrosities like pineapple on pizza or the cheese stuffed crust. But I really felt like until I ate pizza in places like New Haven, CT or Bleecker Street in New York, everything I’d had before was just a pale imitation of what dough, tomato and cheese could really be.

Anyway, here we are in Korea and, let’s face it, if there’s a bright centre to the pizza universe, you’re in the country it’s farthest from. I’ve been fed some loathsome concoctions here by people who should really know better – sweet potato, corn, cherries, you name it. When I hear the words “Mr Pizza” I reach for my revolver. All I want is a slice of pepperoni pizza on my way home from work, preferably with a bottle of beer to wash it down. Is that so hard?

IMG_9621 Not any more, thanks to Maddux. This place is so well hidden in the back streets of Itaewon that you’d think they were trying to hide from the Tasty Road crowd, and let’s hope those two never find it, because it’s an unspoilt gem that’s well worth checking out.

IMG_0583 It’s a simple idea, pizza by the slice; but one which, outside the US, many places struggle to get right. Maddux gets it right. You can buy a whole pie, and I guess if you were a large enough group that might be cost-effective, but the slices are big enough as it is – I could have put away two without too much trouble, but one was perfectly sufficient, and I didn’t want to look like too much of a pig in front of my lunch date.

IMG_0584IMG_0585 A margherita pizza was being made as we walked in, so we asked for a slice of that when it came out of the oven. In the meantime we grabbed some pepperoni, my typical go-to topping. It was good; crispy crust and nicely greasy. Maybe a tiny bit dry, but it was a good slice and satisfied my pepperoni cravings. (It was cut in half to enable us to share – don’t blame them!)

IMG_9615 The margherita was exceptional. Still-bubbling cheese, copious fresh basil, a drizzle of olive oil. Perfection. I demand meat on my pizza, but for this I could be a vegetarian, albeit a very fat one. I’m still dreaming about this one, a day later.

IMG_9617 Another pizza that’s on special right now is a so-called “meatball” pizza which looked and tasted to me like it was topped with regular Italian-style sausage. Like the pepperoni, it was very solid, also a tiny bit dry but it had been reheated rather than served fresh from the oven, so all in all I was not complaining. And the extra-crispy crust made up for it. I’d very much like to taste this one fresh out of the pizza oven, though.

IMG_0591 The interior of the restaurant is simple but inviting, it’s nice and bright during the day and they have a reasonable selection of beers, though it could improve. Better still, it’s open every day, including Mondays which are normally very hit-and-miss around this part of town.

IMG_0586 IMG_0573 (1) Maddux would be a great place to go to fuel up before a night out, or just for a quiet lunch date with friends. It’s unpretentious and serves up really good pizza. I particularly liked the fact that it had a thin crispy crust – so hard to find here, really – and was reasonably priced at 4,700W for a slice of pepperoni and 5,400 for the meatball (the margherita, with its expensive imported ingredients, was 6,700W).

Based on my experience I’d suggest taking a look to see what’s cooking and get a slice fresh out of the oven. You won’t regret it.   Category: Pizza

  • Price: $$$$
  • Must try: Margherita pizza
  • Subway: Itaewon (이태원역) exit 4
  • Directions: Come out of Itaewon Station exit 4 and walk down the road leading away from the Hamilton Hotel, passing Gecko’s on your right and Taco Bell on the left. Turn right down the first small street, pass JR and Wolfhound pubs, and you’ll get to a small intersection immediately after. Turn left there, and Maddux is another minute or two down the small road, on your right.
  • Hours: 12 – 10pm, seven days a week.

Maddux map