Shake Shack has yet to make its way to the West Coast, but it has made it all the way to the far east: South Korea.
Like others who were in South Korea this summer, I was extremely excited to find out that Shake Shack was going to open up in Gangnam (강남). Many of you are familiar with Gangnam due to the song, Gangnam Style by Pay. Before Shake Shack had opened up, I would pass by it once in a while when I would walk through Gangnam, and best believe, I was counting down the days for it to open up to the public.
I was unable to go to thee opening day of Shake Shack, July 21, because I went to the Boryeong Mud Festival (보령머드축제), which I will have a separate posting about (click here). So, I went the second opening day, and yep, there was a line. Despite the size of the line, it went by pretty fast as compared to how long I thought it would take. We waited from ~6pm to ~7pm on a Saturday! Given the time we went, which was dinnertime, and the day we went, second opening day AND a weekend, the line really did not take that long.
Now lets talk about the food.
We all ordered something different, so on our table we had a ShackBurger (cheeseburger), a SmokeShack (cheeseburger, with bacon), regular fries, cheese fries, red bean shake, and the shake of the week: blueberry lemonade.
Here is also the full extensive menu (sorry, it’s almost all in Korean!)
Now, being a New Yorker, and having had tasted Shake Shack in New York, which I believe is the most authentic place, I think my expectations were a little high. Let me start off with the good and trickle down from there.
The shakes! Ooo, they were good. The red bean shake tasted only like vanilla to me, and the red bean was kinda missing, but it was still good. However, the shake of the week: blueberry lemonade, was really good. There was a great blend of the two flavors and it was a rich shake, but not heavy. I also really liked that this flavor is something I do not think would ever come across in the locations in America, so not only was it good, but it was also unique to South Korea and Shake Shacks all over.
The fries. They were also pretty good. My friend got the cheese fries, and it was not that great. The cheese ended up drying up and rather than having gooey and cheesy fries, you had more of a layer of cheese and another layer of fries. Now I can’t say that all cheese fries are like this in Shake Shack, since I have never ordered cheese fries while I was at the New York locations, but personally, I’d like my fries and cheese blended together. The regular fries were good, and what I love about Shack Shake fries is the fact that it is not skinny strips like McDonald’s. You can actually taste the potato and there is more to the fries than just the oil and salt. A little off topic, but I also really liked the mustard. My student, I taught English in Korea at the university for three weeks, hated mustard because apparently it is not like Korean mustard, which is sweet, while ours is salty and sour. I mean, if you’re going to open a Western joint like Shake Shack, you got to keep the basics the same.
Speaking about basics, lets talk about the burgers. So I got a ShackBurger, which was a beef patty with cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, and buns. The beef patty was not that great. It was not packed together (?), it was not assembled well (?). I honestly do not really know how to put it in words, other than, the quality of this patty was not what I thought it was going to be, given it is a Shake Shack burger. Usually the patties are one condensed, juicy pieces. But this one just did not feel like the quality of a good hefty patty. There were also some chunks in the patty that were not chewable, which kind of felt like they just threw in every part of the cow – like they would at McDonald’s. The lettuce was also disappointing. It was a limp lettuce. There was no freshness, not crunch, and there was also only one. Overall, this burger was just an okay burger. As a matter of fact, I think other joints could have beaten this burger, like Mom’s Touch, even McDonald’s, and Burger King. It still beats Lottery, Korea’s fast food chain, though, so that’s good.
Hate to kind of leave it on a bad note, but it was a great experience, and though the Shake Shack joint in South Korea did try to stay true to Shake Shack and its originality, it just did not come through for me.
I am hoping that the reason why the quality was not that great was because it was the opening and that there was too much of an inflow of customers. With that being said, if you are in South Korea, and in the city Seoul, if you happen to be in Gangnam, do check out this area and judge it for yourself.