Review: Poutine Factory - (CLOSED)

Edit 2013.05.07- Just walked past this place a week or so ago and what do you know, the place had closed and an advertisement for a yogurt shop (I think?) was up. Like I said in my review below, the place had promise but not in the business model it was operating in.. Not sure if the new place is being operated by the owners of Poutine Factory but here's hoping PF's owners will find success again soon!




My neighborhood in Noksapyeong seems to attract new eateries all the time and, with such a large international group of people in my hood, I've been pretty fortunate to be within walking distance to a number of pretty good non-Korean places (especially by standards in Korea).

I have a lot of interest in global cuisine but when it comes to food from Canada I must confess I largely draw a blank (maple syrup is big there, right?) So when Poutine Factory opened up near my place a few months ago I had been quite eager to try but hadn't found the opportunity to go until recently when a friend of mine bought a social commerce deal for the place online and invited me and a friend. 

For those who don't know, poutine is a popular Canadian dish in which fries are topped with gravy and cheese curds. And for someone like me who is a major fries lover (as all my friends know), it definitely piqued my curiosity so I was definitely eager to give it a shot.

Entrance!

The deal my friend had was a set menu that came with an order of chicken wings, a pulled pork sandwich and a choice of two items from their fries menu.  We decided to select the original poutine (for basic comparison) and their KB fries (kimchi, bulgogi) while the other three fries choices on the menu included (I believe) spicy shrimp fries, pulled pork fries and a vegetarian option. Two small cans of ginger ale (Canada Dry, of course) were also included in my friend's set deal.

The first dish to arrive were the chicken wings. A total of six wings came beautifully browned up. Perhaps it was because the three of us had been starving and this was the first item we sampled but it was some good ish. They had a bit of a sweeter flavor which wasn't overpowering but complemented the moist meat inside well. There wasn't any dipping sauce for the wings but none of us felt it was needed. 

As a fan of spicier tastes, I would've preferred a bit of heat but they were certainly mild yet tasty enough to be enjoyed by even the most spice averse (wimps!) 

Ain't wings from Hooter's but they were certainly good

Out next came the fries. The classic poutine came with a slew of fries topped in a messy smothering of orange-ish gravy and little cubes of cheese curds nestled in between the gravy. 

Since all three of us had never had poutine before we can't vouch for its authenticity. The sight wasn't the prettiest thing but it was tasty enough. The gravy itself had an interesting color and taste, not quite meaty but with the slightest of tangy undertones. The fries were a nice size- not too thin or thick and soaked up the gravy nicely. 

Having been a frequent visitor to the famed Tillamook Cheese Factory in Oregon while growing up, I knew what cheese curds looked and tasted like and the cheese curds for this dish didn't exactly strike me as the real thing. For one thing, they looked a bit too neatly cubed and "pretty" compared to their homely cousins I saw back in the States. But they tasted fine enough if only with a less "squeaky" texture as cheese curds are commonly known for. One of my friends, who had never had cheese curds, was a big fan of the cheese curds served here which did take me by surprise as I thought Koreans here wouldn't find cheese curds particularly appealing. 

Fries, gravy, cheese curds. Can't get more simple than that.


Closeup. Recommended to be eaten with a fork...

Next came the KB fries with a mound of bulgogi and kimchi sitting atop fries and drizzled with sour cream and a spoonful of salsa. 

I was skeptical of how the different flavors would come together but this one turned out to be quite a winner with us. The fries worked as a simple spud palette from which the slightly sweet bulgogi, the tangy kimchi, mellow sour cream and spices from the salsa came together rather well. 

We were thinking they had skimped out on the kimchi as we had trouble finding very many pieces but after digging in it became clear the kimchi used was quite fermented and the addition of anymore could overpower the other tastes. Still, a bit more of the salsa wouldn't have hurt...

Fusion food done right

Last but not least was the pulled pork sandwich. This one proved to be a real big hit with us. Encased within the soft ciabatta was a generous mound of pulled pork with a bit of lettuce, honey mustard and other goods. 

The star of the sandwich, the pulled pork of course, was nicely seasoned and moist without being overly salty or sweet. It was a unanimous winner for all three of us as we quickly gobbled it down. 


Recommended! Though the sandwich alone is rather pricey (8,000 won)

Surprisingly, the three of us agreed that the original poutine seemed the least memorable item of the bunch. We were all rather more impressed with the pulled pork sandwich than the fries. 

That being said, I'm inclined to believe Poutine Factory will need to change up its business strategy to make it in cutthroat Korea.

Virtually no Korean has any idea of what poutine is and to operate an eatery business mostly around such an unknown food item (and even including it in your restaurant's name) is incredibly risky. While on our way to Poutine Factory we passed all sorts of eateries in the Noksapyeong hood which were packed with people on that Sunday afternoon. However, during our entire dining time at Poutine Factory at lunch there was only one other party in the restaurant. Yikes. 

The prices I would say are on the higher end- approximately 9-12,000 won for the different fries variations and the pulled pork sandwich being 8,000 won without, I believe, any sides or drinks. 


Since they already sell a number of different bottled beers and even makgeolli, I think the place would have a better chance of making it if it operated as a fusion pub place. 

The dishes taste good enough and are unique but aren't appealing enough to most Korean to shell out so much for lunch or dinner for dishes that seem neither "high-end" or even like a meal at all. Most Koreans would view the dishes at Poutine Factory as more snack-like or pub food-like (like an anjoo for beer).

But having pulled pork sliders, different poutine/fries variations and other finger foods on hand to wash down with some cool beer or makgeolli in a pub-setting I think would be a better appeal for both the locals and non-locals alike. 


I'd be down to visit the place another time for maybe an after dinner stop on a Friday night with some friends before going out but I don't think there's enough appeal for me to stop there for a meal at those prices when there's so many other meal options already nearby.

Address: 서울 용산구 이태원동 638번지 1층
638, Itaewon 2-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea


Directions:
Come out of Noksapyeong station exit 2 and walk straight for roughly 300m or so until you get to an underground pedestrian passage. Cross under to the other side of the main street. Cross the crosswalk in front of you towards the Noxa Lounge. Keep walking past the Noxa Lounge on the left for another 80m or so passing the IBK Bank. Poutine Factory will appear on the right on the first floor. 
Parking available in front. Alcohol served


From Noksapyeong Station on the bottom of the map and Poutine Factory at the top


Tip:
The place apparently pops up on the social commerce sites time to time. If you're keen on trying the place out, I would definitely recommend snatching up such deals online rather than pay the full price.