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Review: Left Coast Artisan Burgers in Itaewon

restaurants | April 2, 2014 | By

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[July 2017 update: This location has now closed, with Left Coast reopening in new premises up the street behind the Hamilton Hotel.]

Because, you know, I’ve been eating too healthily. More burgers. All of the burgers.

IMG_2549Left Coast mostly eschews the “obvious” burger choices in favour of interesting alternatives. The Juicy Lucy (above) has a patty stuffed with cheese, the whole slathered in caramelised onions. It was a great burger, though I found the sweetness of the onions a bit much (and I love onions). The bun was perfect and the seasoning was also good, which isn’t always the case in Korean burger places.

More to my taste was the John Wayne burger which I had on my second visit, which sticks bacon and a huge onion ring on top of the burger and then BBQ’s up the whole thing just to keep you on your toes. Just… wow.

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My whiny lunch companion yesterday had the fried chicken burger (below), and it was so good that even he was satisfied.

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The star of the show, in many people’s views, is the galbi fries. This dish may well be influenced by a certain Mexican-Korean fusion taco place up the road in Itaewon… but these chips surpass the kimchi fries at Vatos, largely by not having kimchi on them.

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In the photo above, the galbi is replaced by pulled pork, as they were out of galbi topping on the day I visited with my camera, snapping away like a dick. They were every bit as good. Really, the flavour of the chips together with the pork and the onions was superb.

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Left Coast also make great homemade tater tots, which is obviously an American thing. But a perfectly cooked, fluffy potato croquette (as I would call it) is a universally good thing.

On my most recent visit I decided to go beyond the burger menu and try the bao buns. These are little Chinese bread buns, very soft and slightly sweet, of the sort you sometimes get in Chinese lamb skewer places in Seoul. At Left Coast, they are piled high with alternative fillings – galbijjim or chicken, or (as in this case) seared pork belly with cucumber matchsticks and fresh coriander.

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Seriously, these were the business. The only possible criticism would be that after three of them, the sweetness of the glaze on the pork started to get a bit overwhelming for my taste. But really, they were fantastic. Definitely on the agenda for next time.

It is worth noting that Left Coast can get a little pricey. Burgers run more expensive than Brooklyn Burger by 2-3,000 won, and sides, though reasonably priced, add to the total bill. I don’t care, as I’m happy to pay for quality food and foreign restaurants are always more expensive than local cuisine. Note also that some dishes on the menu change regularly; the one below, which is taken from Left Coast’s Facebook page, was for January, I think, but most of these items are on the current one.

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Left Coast is excellent. On my first couple of visits I was impressed but not knocked out, but the range of great items on their menu, and their attention to the little details, has converted me. I still give Brooklyn Burger the top spot – just – for their actual burgers, which I reckon are superior. But overall Left Coast is becoming a favoured spot, and my waistline is expanding to match. Recommended.

  • Category: American
  • Price: $$$$
  • Must try:Little Piggy bao buns
  • Subway: Itaewon (이태원역) exit 1
  • Directions: Come out of Itaewon station exit 4 and walk down the street away from the Hamilton Hotel, past the Taco Bell and Chef Meili’s Austrian deli. Left Coast is a couple of minutes on your right – keep your eyes open for the sign at the top of this review.
  • Hours: Open seven days a week from 11:30am, closes 10pm weeknights and 11pm Friday/Saturday.

left coast map

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