Sometimes, even if you love Korean food, you just crave something from home- a burger and chips, a glazed doughnut, or a big cheesy pizza. Luckily, there is an ever-increasing number of Western chains across Korea, offering food for just these occasions. However, that’s not to say the menus are exactly the same.. sure, you can still find a plain cheese burger on the Macdonalds menu, or a margherita pizza (no sweetcorn, please), but there are always a few variations/ additions to the menu that have that distinctive Korean ‘twist’.
Let’s have a look at some of the more interesting Korean alternatives you can find on the menu in some popular Western chains:
The Bulgogi Burger is an option available in most burger places across Korea, and is a nice addition to the Macdonalds menu; adding a delicious sauce to a plain burger is a win, in my opinion!
There is also the choice of a shrimp burger: lots of shrimps moulded into a burger patty. Or, the Shanghai Burger, a version of the Western standard chicken sandwiches, but with ‘spicy seasoning’… well, it is Korea!
To complete your Korean Macdonalds, order a green tea frappe or an affogato.
There is always some sort of cheesecake flavoured ice cream in Baskin Robbins, obviously a favourite in Korea.
And, of course, green tea ice cream, an odd but surprisingly good option.
Other flavours include: melon, lemon, cotton candy, sherbet, and don’t forget that classic combination, apple-mint. Mmm.
As the picture confirms, red bean and green tea cream frappuchinos are only available in Korea. What am I going to do back in England?!
You also have the choice of foods such as egg and potato burrito, black olive sausage danish pastry, sweet potato cake or even a spinach lasagne- that definitely isn’t available in the UK!
If you’re a garlic fan, you should head to a Korean Burger King, home of the Garlic Steak Burger: an ordinary burger, with a topping of crushed garlic.
And it goes without saying that there is also a range of bulgogi burgers on the menu.
Topping choices for pizzas include: garlic, cream cheese, sweet potato, normal potato or broccoli. There is also a huge choice of crusts: the ‘star edge’ crust’, filled with cranberry cream cheese, or apple-cinnamon cream cheese, or the ‘rich gold’ crust, made of sweet potato, mozzarella and cheddar. A three-layered crust certainly seems decadent for a pizza!
Koreans love rice so much, they even use it for doughnuts! This item on the Dunkin Donuts menu is made with sticky rice, instead of traditional doughnut ingredients. They come in different flavours including green tea and sweet potato, if you couldn’t have guessed!
There is also always a huge range of ridiculously cute doughnuts in heart-shapes, animal-shapes etc… Koreans know how to make eating fun!
You can see the normal favourites on the TGI Fridays menu: steak, ribs, chips. But it has some extra meals which are distinctly Korean: a salad topped with fruit and mascarpone, pasta in a bread bowl, and most importantly, the choice of fried-rice as a side dish. Phew.
Similarly to Pizza Hut, Dominoes pushes the barrier with its new and exciting crusts and toppings. Cheese roll crusts, double-cheese crusts, cheesecake mousse (really), syrup, mango hot sauce and garlic flakes. Definitely more exciting than your plain-old pepperoni.
Similarly to how Koreans make pizzas a lot more elaborate, some of the dishes at Outback have far more ingredients than in other countries.
For example, their cheese lobster, which comes with a shrimp cake, jacket potato, vegetables and a pot of salad on the side.
They also offer a traditional Korean ‘dosirak’ or lunchbox, with a nice selection of food to takeaway,- a good option if you’re on the move!
Lastly, the unfortunately titled dessert: ‘Chocolate Thunder From Down Under’. It looks delicious, but maybe re-think the name? It doesn’t conjure up the best mental image in the world…
If you are a meat-lover, you’re going to love the new item on the Korean KFC menu: three types of meat in one ‘burger’. In fact, there’s no bread, as the burger is sandwiched between two fried-chicken fillets. With some bacon added in for fun, because we all know that two types of meat just isn’t enough.
On the side, choose from a range of side-salads: sweet corn, pumpkin, pickles, or if you want more meat, potato with bacon.
The menu is similar to Pizza Hut and Dominoes with it’s creative range of toppings. But at Papa John’s, even the appearance of pizza is exciting: you can order them in a heart shape. Now there’s romance if I’ve ever seen it!
We’ve also had some unexpected surprises when ordering food which aren’t from popular chains. The most frequent additions to western-sounding foods? Kimchi and Gochuchang (red pepper paste) which are frequently added. Probably the most memorable oddity though, was ordering a classic beef burger at an ‘American’ restaurant… only to find when it came that you got a banana with chocolate sauce on the side. Eating them separately-great! Eating them together- I’m not so sure… chocolate banana and burger is a bit more wacky than I like my fusion!
Next time you go to a Western chain in Korea, will you go for a safe option, or will you be a bit more adventurous? Cheese pizza or cream cheese pizza? Oh, the choices…