Shake Shack

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Yesterday New York’s Shake Shack opened its very first branch here in Korea. The launch store is located on the main Gangnam street between Gangnam Station and and Sinnonhyeon Station. The burger joint is already insanely popular in New York and creates all kinds of crazy queues there too. When I visited NY last year  I waited in line for half an hour myself, despite the fact there were at least half a dozen locations.

If there’s one thing that Koreans love to do, it’s queue up in line for food, so unsurprisingly the queues were epicly long. The place doesn’t actually open until 11am but I know there were people waiting in line for it from 7 am onward, now that’s what I call dedication to burgers. What is most surprising is that I joined that queue, even more so if you consider the fact I wasn’t all that fussed by the burgers the first time I tried them. However as much as I hate to queue I really wanted to give it a try before my vacation next week. I’d been keeping an eye on the food board groups so I knew what I was letting myself in for, and when my friend arrived at 3:30pm she was told the wait would be 2 hours long, which was just about manageable. The staff were really well prepared, they were handing out umbrellas and bottles of water, which I thought was quite sweet, they also had rock, scissors, paper games for free promotional goodies.

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I finally got to Shake Shack around 4pm, my friend had already been waiting for about 30 minutes at that point, but once I joined the queue seemed to go pretty fast. As a rule I absolute loathe queues, so I brought supplies to keep me happy, namely vodka. It may have been a scorching 33 degrees, but with my Berry Moscow Mule in hand I was refreshed and having a good time.

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The menu is the same as in the states, but with a few Korean extras, thankfully no kimchi burgers but I’m sure it is only a matter of time. There are burgers, hot dogs, shakes, concretes, local beers and wine. The menu is in Korean, but they also have English versions too. I also thought its pretty cool that they don’t put a limit on how much you can order. We saw dozens of people leaving with armfuls of take out bags, so that may be another option for you if you can’t face the line. I’ve also heard you can get it delivered via concierge serves like Atlas.

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There are six different burgers on the menu priced between 5,400 – 12,900, thought the pricier ones are all doubles which I thought was very reasonable. There is also virtually no mark up on the prices compared to the states which is another plus factor. I think everyone and their dog has complained about burger prices over here so that was a nice surprise. By the time we got to the front we ended up ordering three different burgers, my favourite was the Smoke Shack (8,900), which was topped with apple wood smoked bacon, cherry pepper shake sauce, and american cheese. I love a good BBQ bacon cheese burger, and this was pretty great, no Mmm factor but it was a solid 8/10. I’d have liked a touch more seasoning in the burger itself but overall I enjoyed it. Though next time I would probably try adding the extra patty.

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My bestie got the Shroom Burger (9,400), a portebello mushroom stuffed with muenster and cheddar which is breaded and deep fried and then topped with lettuce, tomato and shake sauce. This is their vegetarian option but you can also add a beef patty to it if you like. This is one of the burgers I had in NYC, it was nicer than I remember, probably because I didn’t get for take out this time. The cheese stuffed mushroom was good, but not as good at the Smoke shack in my eye, though my girl Lizzy disagreed, this one was her favourite.

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As I’m such a kind and devoted girl friend, I also picked up the Shack Burger (6,900) for TFB. He had neither the time or the inclination to stand in a queue for burgers but we thought we would treat him anyway. For a simple six dollar burger this was pretty up there, not amazing but good for what it is. Though I couldn’t help but think it was kind of like the love child of a McDonald’s quarter pounder and a Burger King whopper. If you could just walk in off the street and get one in 5 minutes then this would be the place to go, but with the queues like they are right now I’d suggest sticking with a whopper.

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Potato wise, there are Fries (3,900) and the Cheese Fries (4,900). Honestly the cheese fries sucked, there was just a splatter of this vile yellow sauce on them, I’m not sure what it was made from but it sure didn’t taste like cheese. The fries themselves were fine but really not worth the five dollar price tag and the portion was quite small too, give me some maccy D’s fries any day of the week.

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Between us we split a Black & White Shake (5,900). When our order arrived we were given the red bean by mistake, which was terribly upsetting, but they soon rectified the mistake. The black and white shake was alright but I honestly didn’t think it was anything special. It also didn’t seem that thick and actually melted very quickly, perhaps their ice cream machine was overworked but it was a bit shit if I’m being honest. I would rather spend the extra money on two burgers next time and forget the sides.

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Shake Shacks other claim to fame is its concrete frozen custards. So I had to try the new Gangnam flavour (5,900). A single vanilla concrete mixed with jam, cookies, marshmallow, and soy bean powder. I was really looking forward to this but again, it was already half melted when it arrived. It tasted nice enough but again not good enough to justify the price. This is Seoul and there are hundreds of places selling pretty great shakes and ice creams on almost every street that you walk down. They are going to need to really up their game if they want to compete on more than a brand name recognition basis.

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Overall I liked the burgers, they are certainly worth it, the fries and shakes not so much. While the queues are still monstrous I’d advise you to save time and pay a couple extra bucks and go to Gilbert or Left Coast. However once the queues have dissipated and you can walk straight in and order, they are great burgers for the price. If you do decide to wait in line, just be prepared and bring plenty of booze like we did.

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Shake Shack is located at 452 Gangnam-daero, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Gangnam station (line 2) and come out of exit 11. Walk straight for 200 meters, you will see Shake Shack ahead on the left hand side. For more information you can call them on 02-553-5576, or check out their website for more details.

Ryan’s Rooftop Pop Up

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Last Sunday I finally got to get out of the city and enjoy the most amazing pop up on Chef Ryan’s roof top. The pop up was hosted to use and cook all of the fantastic ingredients he and his team had been growing on his rooftop out in the countryside. This is the exact kind of thing that really excites me. Locally produced ingredients picked that day and turned into the most delicious dishes.

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The roof garden itself was truly a sight to behold. It was amazing how much you could grow on a simple roof top. There were different varieties of tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, chilis, corn, herbs, carrots and more. I love the fact that everything in the garden was put to use, in fact Ryan’s garden master has even used the peppers to make and bottle his own hot sauce!  I took a bottle back with me for TFB as hes a fan of all things spicy, and hes been adding to every meal ever since.

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The pop-up menu had 13 different dishes on it, which was almost completely comprised of produce grown on the garden and their surrounding farm land.  The plates were small dishes of what I’m calling ‘Garden Tapas”, and were priced between 3,000 – 8,000 each. They also had a homemade omija infused gin for their signature cocktail but we were free to bring our own beverages as well.

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Not surprisingly I wanted to try everything on the menu, and this was more than ample to feed three large eaters. We also got a second round of a few of our favourites, just because we could.

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While every dish we had was fantastic in its own way, it would take me forever to list everything so here is the highlight reel. First up was the Salmon Gravlax (5,000), a whole beet cured salmon, thinly sliced on top of toasted homemade focaccia, and topped with a devilled egg salad. Honestly this was pretty hard to beat, especially for the price.

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With the salmon we were served the Sweetened Carrots (3,000). These baby carrots were sweeter than honey. Sauteed with dill, mustard, and cumin, they had a slightly warm spicy taste which complimented them so well. I’ve got a few pots of carrots in my own garden and I really hope they turn out as good as these.

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It is not often that you come across veal in Korea, and Ryan had two dishes on the menu Grilled Veal Loin & Sage, and Smoked Veal and Collards both (8,000). Both dishes made great use of the gamey veal, the grilled version was crispy and served with sage, while the smoked version was falling off the bone and served with collards.

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The Chilli Rellenos (8,000), were by far the star of the day for me. I’ve never had anything like it before but they were insanely good. Chillies stuffed with homemade cheese and deep fried, then topped with tomato spice water, there was also a tangy corn salsa on the side. I could have honestly eaten 100, and died happy when my stomach exploded.

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The other standout dish was Ryan’s Corn (3,000). It was topped with John’s aioli and Ashes hot sauce. This was one of the first dishes we ate and I think it’s going to be a long time before I get to eat corn that good again. The smokiness from the bbq mixed with the hot sauce and aoili was just the perfect blend.

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I kind of wanted to keep this last one as a secret because its my favourite thing in the world and I don’t want anyone getting hold of my secret supply, but it would be cruel not to share it. Ryan has a field full of his own rhubarb which he used to make a Rhubarb Crumble (5,000). I’m pretty sure I ate three bowls of this just by myself, it is always one of the foods that I miss most here in Korea. Luckily for us Ryan has a huge supply and often has it to sell at the monthly marche markets around the city. If you would like more details about the monthly farmers market then please see their website

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This wasn’t the first roof top pop up that Ryan has hosted and I’m sure it won’t be the last. If you want to find out more details about the next pop up, you can check out Ryan’s facebook group or Instagram account.You can also see him star in a documentary about the Korean seafood on Arirang TV on 7/29 or 7/30.

Puro Juice

For the past year or so almost everyone I meet tends to ask me one question and one question alone, how did you lose so much weight? Fighting the flab has been pretty much been a constant battle in my life, and it wasn’t until I turned 30 that I finally reached a weight that was considered healthy for my height. I’ve tried every fad diet going over the years but the one thing that I have found works for me is eating a raw til 4 diet during the day and then eating whatever I fancy for dinner. There isn’t a morning that goes by that I don’t start my day with a delicious healthy fruit and veg smoothie and this along with regular working out it has allowed me to maintain my weight while still eating cake and pizza.

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As a girl who loves to cook, I make my delicious green or beet smoothies every morning myself, but I know that not everyone is lucky enough to have an expensive high powered blender at their disposal. I first fell in love with vibrant veggie juices and smoothies 10 years ago when I lived in Australia, and about a year ago the fad finally made its way to Korea.

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Personally I have always preferred smoothies to a juices, I just think it’s healthier and more filling to include the roughage. Ever since My Juice came on to the scene a few years back, fruit and vegetable juices have become incredibly popular, in fact it seems as though you can’t swing a dead cat without coming across a Juicy store these days. However not all juice stores are as healthy as they seem,  and the cheaper ones in particular have been adding cups and cups of sugar to their drinks to keep the cost down and the flavour up which means you might as well be drinking your favourite soda.

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Luckily a few weeks ago I came across Puro juice, which is located on churros street in Gyeongridan. They have fantastic menu of juices and smoothies that are all made with completely natural ingredients and are very reasonably priced at 2,500 for a small and 3,900 for a large They have a great mix of options including lots of lovely fresh veggies, fruits and  super foods, and not a bit of added sugar.

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I have been steadily working my way through the menu, so far I have tried the Super Kale, a mix of kale, spinach, mango, pineapple, and apple juice. The Celery Go which is made of celery, yellow pepper, mango, pineapple, and fruit juice, and the Very Carrot, which is carrot, cabbage, blueberry, pineapple, and fruit juice. My favourite so far is the Super Kale, but there are so many more I still have to try. I love that I can always go for something different than I would make at home and get some different nutrients into my body.

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My only gripe about Puro Juice is that it does not open until lunchtime which is a shame as its the perfect thing to enjoy for breakfast, although on a hot afternoon it certainly makes a nice after work treat too. Overall I think this place is great, the juices are delicious and they are very reasonably priced. I really want to give them some support as it’s so nice to be able to have access to a sugar free smoothie you don’t have to make at home.

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Puro Juice is located at 564 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Noksapyeong Station (line 6) and come out of exit 2. Walk straight until you reach the underpass, go through and exit using the stairs on the right hand side. Walk straight until you reach the churros place on the corner and go left. Puro Juice is about half way down on the right hand side. For more information you can check out their website.

Made – Brunch

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Unless you live under a rock you have more than likely heard about the new Pokemon game, where you go on your own quest to catch as many of the little critters as possible. Well my life is also like that, though instead of looking for pretend animated characters, I’m looking for brunch spots. For some reason brunch seems to need to fill far more criteria than a simple lunch ever would. For starters they have to have a western style menu filled with egg and carb heavy options, secondly, strong and reviving cocktails, and thirdly, outside seating. It is rare to come across in place in Seoul that manages to satisfy all three,  but thankfully Made just about does. Whenever I am in Sinsa, it is the only place I like to go to. Its location in between Apgujeong and Garosugil makes it the perfect place to stop and take a rest and watch the world go by. The large open doors give you the feeling of being outside while still being very close to the air conditioning. The best part is that they serve brunch all day everyday, with an extra special bunch menu on weekends. (more…)

Social Table

On a very rainy evening a few weeks ago I was invited to dinner by a very good friend. She suggested Social Club, and since it was very close to my house I thought it would be worth a try. Social Table like a  lot of great places to eat, is located in Gyeongridan in the hidden alleyway where the police station is. If you still haven’t been down this street then I suggest you check it out, it is filled with all kinds of quirky cafes, restaurants and dessert shops.  I had walked past this place on more than a few occasions but sheer laziness stopped me climbing up to the second floor to find out more.

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L’Empreinte Bistro

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Sometimes nothing beats a good French bistro and when I heard through the grape vine that there was a new one that had opened in a new hot little area called Yeonnam-dong, just by Hongdae it seemed like the ideal spot to go for lunch and a wander. From the outside the second floor restaurant doesn’t look all that special but once inside it is light and airy and has a very french country chic feel about it. All the furniture is vintage and imported from France. We were very lucky to be seated at the 120 year old table, and I couldn’t help but think of all the people who had enjoyed meals at it over the years. (more…)

Conversation

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Monsoon days are usually pretty damn crummy and depressing, however every cloud has a silver lining and I have just the post to turn that frown upside down. Cake! Lots and and lots of beautiful cakes! Conversation is the hottest little cake shop in town. It has only been open for just over two weeks but has already garnered quite the following as you can see from the picture below. At the moment there are no queues, but I can’t see that lasting too long once the Korean bloggers find out about it, so i suggest you pay a visit sooner rather than later. (more…)

Fat Girl’s 4th Birthday Giveaway – Closed

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I can’t believe that it has been four years since I first started writing this blog. As a naturally lazy and sloth like person I am continually surprised and a little proud of the the fact that I have managed to keep it going all this time. Without getting too soppy, I’d just like to say a big thank you to all of my beloved readers. You spurred me on to keep blogging even when even my own friends and family stopped reading and I couldn’t have done it without you. Knowing that over 100,000 people read this blog every month gives me the motivation to get off the sofa and go out into the city and find the most delicious foods that Seoul has to offer. I have eaten some amazing things over the last four years, and I know there is even better to come, so please keep reading. (more…)

Kahlo & Diego

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We all know I’m a big old lush, especially once the summer kicks in. I don’t think there has been a day this week where I haven’t enjoyed a refreshing alcoholic beverage on my terrace at cocktail hour. But as much as I enjoy drinking at home, it is also fun to go out now and again. Last week I met with my bar tender and very good friend Ray Sway Oh, star of the Yancha Life. It being a Friday night and all he suggested going for a drink after dinner, and I knew just the place. (more…)

Rose Ice Cream

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Two things that Korea seems to absolutely adore are faddy trends and ice cream. And last summer they were combined to make the rose ice cream, a cone of your favourite flavours shaped to resemble flower petals. If my finger was more on the pulse or one had opened in my neighbourhood then I probably would have written about this last summer, but it’s not and it didn’t, so I only just got around to trying it. Compared to the honey chip or the macaroon ice cream sandwich fad it can’t even compare in terms of queue longevity, and it is more gimmick than taste but if you pick your ice cream parlour wisely you should leave with a delicious treat and have a great photo for your instagram account. (more…)