August 07, 2011

햄버거 hembeogeo, not hamburger...

A review: Jacoby's Burger

I've never really done a review of a restaurant in Seoul. I find my vocabulary is rather limited when it comes to food. I mean I teach my children adjectives, and how to correctly order and sequence them. Yet I find myself at a loss when I attempt them use at all. I was recently recruited to write a piece on street food in Seoul. I was really excited, although I was informed that my photos would not be included in the publication. I sat for weeks staring at a blank page. I couldn't find a way to connect what I saw in the photo to words. I had some stories, and in hindsight perhaps that is what they wanted. While my review is not going to be on street food, or even Korean food.

It's summertime in the city, and as much as I love Korean food. I'm not sure how well a lot of Korean dishes translate in the summer. There is nothing that I have found that equates the taste and essence of summer quite like BBQ does. I like BBQ, and perfecting grill marks on individual grains of rice would be monotonous, and not really my style. Yet I love grilling unusual fare, I once successfully BBQ'd pierogies, with onion and kielbasa skewers, anywho, off topic.

Hamburgers are one of the foods I first think of when it comes to summer and the BBQ. I don't think that this is really a concept that is lost on many N/A expats. It's a food that we (well not really me, but as a landmass) created. This review is also in somewhat of a rebellion against an expat magazine article. The article was about the 10 best burgers in Korea (inform yourself!). Although restaurant reviewing and sampling is all subjective, and people have differing tastes.

I believe the best hamburger I've had in Seoul is from Jacoby's, an institution that was not even included in the previously mentioned article. The place is located in Haebangchon, an area which has quickly become one of my favourite places in the city.

Here the burgers are made fresh and to order. This often leads to a long waiting time, yet this place is not fast food and good things do come to those who wait. Another advantage of this made to order system is that the beef slaughter system in Asia differs from the one in N/A. The beef used in Jacoby's is from Australia, and it doesn't follow the same mass production methods utilized by the USDA and CFIA. To some people you may wonder why this is important, it basically means that you can enjoy medium rare burgers here! Instead of having to burn the fuck outta the thing.

The burgers here are pricey, but I figure they are well worth it. I've always had this mantra that if you want something done right you have to pay for it. If you want crap you can always order from McDonalds or buy shit from China. Craftsmanship is something that takes time, and shouldn't be taken lightly. At Jacoby's the food is well constructed, although is not earthquake proof, and will fall over if the plate is shaken. All the meals in the pictures range from 10,000 to 14,000 including cola. Fries are considered an extra (add 3,000), and considering the size of the burger if you are really hungry, then by all means order them. I also hear that there vegetarian burger is good, I'll have to take the rumor on that one. I've never eaten any, so even if I did try it here I wouldn't have the faintest idea what to compare it to.

When it comes to flavour, the food here is great. You can actually taste meat in the burger unlike many other places I've been to in Seoul. I find that a lot of the competition in Korea seem to follow a mundane formula when they make their patties, and they don't include anything to compliment the meat. At Jacoby's your patty can come with rosemary or garlic, which add to the taste and texture of the meat. The shape of finished product also brings back memories of my father's burgers. They aren't flat, they come out looking more like oblong baseballs than flattened hockey pucks.

There are a handful of choices when it comes to toppings at Jacoby's and you can enjoy everything from a basic burger, to a designer burger on steroids. The more willing you are to test your palate the better, and Jacoby's has offerings that stir the imagination. From pineapple and guacamole to chilli and chips, along with numerous cheeses you can dress up your burger as exotic as you'd like.

One knock against the place is that food arrives off kilter. It's actually something I've become used to in Asia, they aren't really great on time planning meals. It does become rather bothersome when you travel here in groups. Mostly because the burgers are so juicy that one person is all greased up before others get their shot to moisturize their hands/arms/ lap (if you're unlucky) with burger drippings.

Some may say that the price, and waiting time should be considered a knock as well. I differ from that, mostly because I'm writing about good food, not quick cheap food. I think that if you are going to have a 'best' of something price shouldn't be a huge determining factor. The waiting time can be annoying when you are hungry, or watching other people grease up. I still don't see it affecting taste, the restaurants improper time management skills has little to do with the food, and perhaps it's better that these burgers are delivered randomly instead of waiting patiently under heat lamps.
How to get there: Noksapyeong (Line 6) take exit 2, when the road forks stick along the wall with the Kimchi pots. Walk about Two blocks up, and It will be on the right side of the road.

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