Tired of Korean food? Sometimes Koreans are too. While biking, you will cross the famous golden arches or an Italian-inspired restaurant. Inside, comfort food from your homeland awaits.
Check out our map to discover burgers, pasta, or cheese pizza treasures.
The (American) Italians
Casual dining restaurants proliferated when disposable income came to town. No wonder they took off as Korea’s middle class rose.
Just like home, these family-friendly eateries share a similar format: sixty-plus menu items. Lots of soda. And Americanized Italian food. Think Olive Garden in overdrive.
You can also find salads, and something labeled steak. Don’t expect prime rib, though. Think a thick hamburger patty with steak garnishes.
Raracost designed their ordering for efficiency. As you’re seated, you’ll receive a notepad and cup.
Peruse the menu. See something you like? Write the number next to the menu item on the notepad.
Now take your cup and head to the soda fountain. Don’t worry about filling it to the top. It’s bottomless.
A few minutes later, presto! A steaming plate of sauce and carbs drops on your table.
Variations on a Theme
Plenty of restaurants compete for the casual dining niche in Korea. Some domestic. Some International. Here are a few.
Pancakes, waffles or English breakfasts are a rare sight in Korea. “Brunch” restaurants in Korea serve overpriced burgers and sandwiches.
Pizza! Pizza! Pizza!
Pizza’s star shines bright worldwide. From kids to grandmas, it’s got billions of likes and re-eats.
Korea has many pie shops. There’re cheap bites. Some chains bake decadent behemoths that rival Chicago’s deep dish. In trendy neighborhoods, you can stumble upon artisan pizzerias.
Cheap and cheesy, they offer rapid response takeout. Their sauce drenched pies satisfies singles and families alike.
Remember, the world doesn’t know Korea for its dairy cows. Cheaper pies equal cheaper cheese.
Luxury pie? Take Domino’s Cheese Cake Black Tiger. Whipped cheese forms the base. On top they spread oversized black tiger prawns and sun-dried tomatoes. And bacon. And horseradish sauce. Yes, horseradish sauce on pizza. Use a fork. No shame.
Looking for a discount? On weekdays, Domino’s sometimes offers 30-40% discounts on takeout orders. Also, look out for Pizza Hut’s 1+1 deals. Buy a pie, get a pie free.
Fast Food Haven
Late night. You’re hungry. You scroll through your phone. What’s open? Nothing.
Wait! There’s one.
But they betrayed your diet. They hid their calories from you. Now they say they’ve changed. They sell salads now.
No. You grew out of it. Years of diet therapy made you a better person. You moved on.
You have needs, though. And they know how to satisfy.
You turn away. No one can see your screen. You flick through their menu. Salads. Chicken burgers. Triple stacked beef patties with melted cheese!
Alright. Just this once. For old times sake.
Many western brands kept their core menu intact. McDonald’s delivers the same old Big Mac and Quarter Pounder (not Royal) with Cheese. Burger King dished up the classic Whopper. KFC fries chicken, as is tradition.
However, Korean’s celebrate a unique taste and culture. So expect some new entrants.
Most fast-food restaurants add a shrimp burger to their menus. Like chicken and beef patties, they’re made from — well — ground up shrimp.
The American invasion doesn’t stop with McDonalds, KFC, and Burger King. In every city, you can also find Baskin Robbins (배스킨라빈스) and Dunkin’ Donuts (던킨도너츠). Like much of the world, Starbucks (스타벅스) holds court in every neighborhood.
From menu, to format, to color scheme, Lotteria reminds one of McDonalds. Their core offerings include burger, fries, and coke.
Mom’s Touch begins and ends with chicken. Plates of fried and sauce slathered chicken. Cheese chicken burgers. Jalapeno chicken burgers. Garlic chicken burgers. To fill out the fast food pyramid, they threw in some fries and a bulgogi burger.