Restaurant of the week: Jacoby’s Burger, Seoul


45-6 Yongsan-dong-2-ga, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, 02-3785-0433, open until 2 a.m.

What makes it special?

This place is far from a secret – in fact, it’s one of the most respected and widely-known expat haunts in the Haebangchon area. Not too many tourists head up this way, of course, since they’re more interested in experiencing a Korean way of life.

Give me the inside line.

The first thing to know is that everything is up to you – white bun or wheat bun, cooked medium or well-done, what kind of cheese, and which condiments are preferred. In fact, if you look like a regular, the waiter may bring out a menu and an order pad for YOU to fill out. You’ll also have a wire basket of several condiments on your table, in case you change your mind later. Every burger is made to order, which is why you’ll see signs indicating their commitment to quality, and that quality takes time to get right. McDonalds this ain’t. While the first drink was delivered in mere minutes, it took about 20 minutes for the main course to arrive.

What’s the damage?

The Hawaiian Bacon burger (13,000 won, burger only) comes complete with wheat bun, pineapple, hash brown, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and a more-oval-than-patty-shaped hunk of meat. I’ll spare you a list of the near-endless permutations of possibilities – again, it’s all up to you. The waiter was very careful to bring it out, although it did topple over mere seconds later. It took a bit of restructuring and rejiggering to make it reasonably camera-friendly. At about 8 inches (20cm) tall, simply picking it up almost takes a third hand; unless you have to, avoid putting this thing down once you start enjoying. While fries and other side dishes are extra, they’re uniformly excellent without reservations.

And then there’s the other reason to come out – the alcohol. Jacoby’s full bar complements the food quite nicely, and combined with the ambience is enough to merit a stop even if you’re full. The standard upsells to top-shelf liquors are apparent enough in the menu, and the place doesn’t close until 2am – one of the last places on the hill to close for the evening.

Directions to Jacoby’s Burger: take the Seoul subway system to Noksapyeong station (line 6, exit 2). Once at street level, walk along the sidewalk for about 250 meters to the intersection. Bear left, then follow the brown kimchi pots up the hill. Walk about 300 meters and you’ll see it on your right.