Review: Brooklyn Burger – the best burger in Seoul
“Best burger in Seoul” must be one of the most Googled phrases among foreigners in this fair city. Now, let’s start by admitting up front that burgers, like pizza, coffee, music and girlfriends, are deeply personal experiences, and we all have our favourites. Some people like them dripping with chili, others like it with a huge slab of tomato on the base. Some folks eat them with fork and knife; I always eat the fries first and save the burger until last. I knew a guy once who would swear that the best burger in Christendom was one of those Australian affairs with beetroot and God only knows what else on it, the very thought of which made me want to puke. So your mileage may vary, and indeed I’d be suspicious if it didn’t.
All that having been said, I’m calling it. Brooklyn the Burger Joint makes the best burger in Seoul.
The first clue is the wait. If you go to either of their restaurants at any time around lunch or dinner – and I mean even vaguely near those mealtimes, not just the noontime lunch rush – you’ll probably have to queue. Neither location is very big, a couple of dozen seats at the most. You’ll put your name down on a list at the door and then wait, patiently, in the freezing cold or the sweltering humidity, whatever. Be patient and wait. You may peer inside and note to your consternation that the place appears to be filled with Gangnam ladies-who-lunch, and if you’re anything like me you’ll take that as a sign that the food must be over-hyped, or over-priced, or both, and you’ll start to walk away. Do not walk away. Hold firm. Stay in line.
Once inside the promised land, you’ll get a big menu with English on one side.
All of the burgers come in regular and larger sizes. Even the regular one is a decent handful, but larger customers (like me) will want the larger of the two. All burgers are available as a meal set with an order of chips and a soft drink for an extra 5,000 won.
If you’re here in company, though, you should get the sharing fries. The chilli cheese fries are extremely good. If they’re not hot enough for you, Brooklyn has a whole bunch of hot sauces on hand that you can shake onto the chips.
Recommending a favourite burger is as pointless as picking a favourite girl from SNSD; they’re all equally tasty. The patty is thick, juicy and perfectly seasoned, the bun has a hint of char. The chips – fries, if we’re being pedantic – are just right, not too thin. This (below) is the Real McCoy, with bacon, cheese and a thick slice of raw onion on top.
My clear favourite so far – I haven’t yet tried them all, but I plan to – is the C.R.E.A.M. burger (Cheddar Rules Everything Around Meat – a Wu-Tang Clan reference, or so I’m reliably informed). The burger is covered with cheddar, bacon, and then a large dollop of horseradish mayo, which gives the whole thing a bite and an edge. This is an incredible piece of burger engineering.
And there’s more. The shakes. Oh, the shakes. If Elvis really is still alive, then the peanut butter and banana shake would kill him instantly. The Nutella and burnt marshmallow shake is almost ridiculously thick and creamy – it needed a lot of stirring before it could be sucked through a straw. I could almost hear the wails from my doctor back home in Glasgow.
As the restaurant’s name might suggest, Brooklyn beers are available here in three varieties if milkshakes aren’t your thing.
Brooklyn the Burger Joint has two main locations at the time of writing. Both are inconvenient to find and get to, but persevere. The first is in Seorae Maeul, the French village near Express Bus Terminal or Seocho stations. The second is in a sidestreet in Samseong-dong near the northwestern end of COEX, up by the Seven Luck Casino and the Intercontinental Hotel.
If both of these are too irritating to reach, there is a Brooklyn Burger in the Gourmet 494 food court in Galleria department store in Apgujeong, conveniently situated next to the Vatos counter so that the ambulance will be able to find you. This outlet runs a more limited selection of burgers and sides at more-or-less the same price, and the quality seemed to me to be pretty much as good as the originals – but nothing will beat a pilgrimage to the real burger Shangri-La itself.
I’d been hunting for a good burger since my local burger joint, Two Hands Burgers, was bought over a few months ago and destroyed by some guy who now serves them with – I kid you not – doughnuts on top. The hunt is now over, and this is the place. Accept no substitutes.
- Category: American
- Price: $$$$
- Must try:Everything, but not at one sitting.
- Subway: Seorae Maeul: Express Bus Terminal (신사역) exit 5
Samseong: Samseong station (삼성역) exit 5
- Directions:See below.
Seorae Maeul: OK, this is a little complicated. Walk out of exit 5, cross the road and turn right, heading west away from Express Bus Terminal. After four or five minutes walking along the road, take the first street left, which will twist and turn a little but basically go straight. You’ll walk past a kids’ playground and some apartments, still walking straight, and just as you think you’re utterly lost, you’ll see Brooklyn Burger perched on a corner to your left. Unless you don’t see it, of course, in which case you really are lost.
Samseong: Come out of exit 5 and walk past COEX and the Intercontinental Grand on your right. Take the first turning right and walk up the side of COEX, past the City Air Terminal and the casino. Take the last turning to the left before you reach the top of the street, and then the first right. Brooklyn is there waiting for you.
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