Review: Best Value Burgers in Seoul From Bas Burger (종로 바스버거)

As the growing list of burger joints around Seoul shows, I'm definitely not alone in having a serious love and appreciation for a good burger. There's a whole slew of burger places around Seoul thesedays from the good to very bad and the occasional very, very odd joints as well.

Thankfully, the overall quality in burger cuisine has improved remarkably in Korea since the days when "burgers" consisted of bland, overcooked patties between soggy buns and just about everything except the kitchen sink thrown in between. Now, every month there's a new burger place that's claiming to be the "best burger" in Seoul or Korea as the competition and quality ramps up.

I heard about Bas Burger through the grapevine- as it was drawing some solid buzz- and had the chance to swing by on a weekend to get my burger fix. Here's how I found Bas Burger :)


Bas Burger is actually an offshoot of the dessert and beverage chain, Bastille, which has a store in Itaewon and Sinsa. They're best known for their foggy nitrogen ice cream mixtures but have a continually expanding line of shakes, coffee, and other refreshments. However, Bas Burger is their first foray into the burger business.

The new burger store is located between Gwanghwamun and Jonggak, just behind the Le Grand Seoul building. I had a bit of difficulty finding the place not because of any issues with the map and address but because the entire building and grounds Bas Burger is located in is surrounded by construction walls that made it hard to see the building and sign. Even the front entrance is blocked because of construction so you'll have to get in through the side.

Inside, the layout is somewhat peculiar as the first floor is their cafe and regular Bastille, while the burger joint is located upstairs on the second floor. What's even more curious is Bas Burgers' atmosphere; with its bar tables, stools, and orange-hued lighting fixtures, it's more the feel of a pub or brewery. I went on a Sunday early evening but found the cafe empty and Bas Burger only having one other table occupied.



In a corner you'll find the counter and open kitchen beside it. The large window shows the kitchen staff preparing your food.


I was relieved when I saw the menu as Bas Burger had smartly made the decision to keep things simple. Here, there's only four burger choices (the original Bas Burger, the Hawaiian, the mushroom, and the double), two morning offerings (a morning roll and English muffin), chicken wings, fries, two types of beer on draft (lager and IPA), and four soft drink choices (coke, zero coke, sprite, and fanta).

But the most shocking thing about the menu were the prices. The four burger choices of the original, hawaiian, mushroom, and double were respectively 4,800; 5,200; 5,900; and 6,500 for the burgers alone and only 6,500; 6,900; 7,600; and 8,200 for a set (with fries and drink).

What?

I don't know if you guys understand how unbelievable those prices are but to put things into perspective, the local Burger King in Korea sells its Double Cheese Whopper for 8,800 won and that's just for the burger and not a set. For that same burger at BK to be made into a set, it'll set you back 10,900 won. So clearly these are some eyebrow raising prices for a burger.

As for the other stuff, the morning roll and English muffin both have the same filling and price (bacon, sausage, and a patty with each sandwich costing 4,500) but are only sold between 7-10AM. The chicken wings are 4,000 for 4 pieces and 10,000 for 12 pieces while an order of fries is 1,500. Lager beer is 4,000 and the IPA is 5,000 while all soft drinks are 1,500 won.

But, of course, I was here for the burgers and when you have a burger joint that's selling below fast food average prices, consider my attention commanded. As intriguing as the mushroom and Hawaiian offerings were, I wanted to taste the original but feeling quite hungry, I decided to go with the double set while my friend went with the Bas original.


After ordering, you receive a ringer while the cooks make your burgers to order. It's fun to watch them in action.


A good 6-8 minutes later, our food was ready at the counter for pickup. The clear paper wrappers for the burgers, the boat trays for the shoestring fries and ketchup containers immediately made me think of Shake Shack and I'm fairly certain that that was the benchmark behind Bas Burger (which isn't a bad joint to benchmark).


Visually, I was really impressed by my double burger. Not only were the vegetables crisp and incredibly fresh but I liked the addition of the butter lettuce leave which is not only uncommon hereabouts but provides just a faint touch of sweet note to give the greens category just a bit more boost to hold up against the stronger flavors of the onion, the umami tomatoes, and of course the cheesy beef patties.



That ooey, gooey, melted cheese on the patty gets my heart racing with excitement every damn time.


The patties are quite thin (probably in line with Shake Shack's method of smashing their burgers while cooking) and slightly more cooked than I would prefer which is why it isn't the juiciest it could be. A little more seasoning wouldn't have hurt either and overall I would have been disappointed if I paid anything above 12,000. But hey, at 5,900, this wasn't a bad burger at all. It's still got a nice meaty flavor to it that's enhanced by the hot melted cheese and fresh toppings.The buns are nice and squishy but with enough hold and they come grilled with some spread before serving which really adds a nice extra dimension to the burger. I had no problem scarfing the whole thing down.


Now the fries I was a little less impressed with. The fries that came were lukewarm (obviously not freshly cooked) and unseasoned so they were quite mediocre. As I mentioned, we were the only other table there besides one other couple so I'm thinking there was a lull in serving time which is why the fries must have been sitting out for a bit. The ketchup that was provided on the side was also skimpy with the container about 1/4 full, which seems wasteful if you think about the size of these plastic ketchup containers. I know in ketchup-pricey Korea where even fast food relegates the ketchup supply for customers this is probably a price-saving move on Bas Burger's part but I think there could be a better environmentally-conscious solution- and a bit more ketchup...


Overall, the burgers at Bas Burger certainly aren't absolute knock outs by any means and there are some rough edges in seasoning and cooking that needs tampering with. But in Korea where non-fast food burgers go from anywhere between 12~18,000, the prices and value for the burgers here are absolutely amazing with minor details such as the fresh vegetables and toasted buns providing a clear competitive edge over any of the McD's, BK's, Lotterias found throughout. Which is why, it is indeed, the best value burger (though not the best burger) I've come across in Seoul.

On a minor note, I have to say that as pretty as the orange-hued lighting fixtures are here, they give an odd orange hue to the food while making the restaurant pretty dark at night. With the burgers being such a colorful visual- which undoubtedly hundreds of Koreans will photograph and upload- I think brighter lighting fixtures are a better choice. The darker lighting is better reserved for brew houses and bars.

Ratings: 3 out of 4 stars
Though the burgers aren't the best in town, the price value certainly is and even lower than the price for burger sets at many fast food chains. A bit of under seasoning and overcooking in the thinner patties, lukewarm fries, and odd lighting colors are the minor gripes but the overall composition of the burgers and the use of crisp, fresh vegetables makes it a pretty decent burger. I wouldn't say it's worth trekking out for but if you're looking for some good bang for your won and you're in the area, definitely go for it!

Address: 

서울 종로구 청진동 140
140, Cheongjin-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul


If you're coming out of Jonggak exit 1, go straight 100 meters until you get to the alley after the Grand Seoul building. Turn right into the alley and walk up another 100 meters and you should see the Bas Burger building on your left, before the big multi-storied Starbucks that's diagonally across from it.

Telephone: 
02-722-6643

Parking: Not available... so far. The entire building is still under construction (as of February 2015) so I'm not sure how the parking situation will be once it's complete.

Alcohol: Draft beers available

Tip: 
The first floor is a regular Bastille (like the ones in Sinsa and Itaewon) and serves the popular nitrogen ice cream as well as coffee and other drinks. 

Bas Burger serves morning sandwiches between 7-10AM.

Comments

  1. running the race of my life, and catching up with friends. Food Truck Catering

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