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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.