Review: Lamb and Pork Pita and Greek Salad From Greek on the Grill in Itaewon

One of my fondest food memories from all my travels is a humble gyros place in Athens, back when I was studying abroad in Europe. It was a restaurant which also sold gyros to go and it only set you back a mere 1.79 Euros for a gyros fresh off the grill with a bag of fries. It was so modest but something about the sizzling meat, fresh tzatziki sauce, veggies in the warm pita was so irresistible that I ended up having it at least once every day to the point the owner recognized my friends and me on our last day in Athens.

Since that experience, and the Greece trip in general, I've been a big fan of Greek food which, admittedly is very close to my bias in personal taste preference- fresh seasonal fruits and veggies, meat and seafood grilled in simple spices and always letting the fresh ingredients shine, with the spices/herbs/sauces a mere accompaniment and not an overshadowing player.

So admittedly Greek cuisine has been something I've missed terribly and quite often in Korea. There's a few joints around the Itaewon area with El Grecos being the better of the bunch and Santorini Taverna being one of the worst  foreign restaurants I've ever been in Korea (and I'm not using that word in superlative terms). But still, I have yet to find a place that really fulfills my longing for Hellas food.

There's a big alley behind the main street of Itaewon, near the entrance of the main street, that I've been hanging out a lot in these days. It's undergoing constant redevelopment and a lot of nice new eateries, drink spots and other cool shops have taken root there.

I noticed one day that this tiny hole-in-the-wall Greek shop had opened up and made a note to try it out. So one night, while passing back home, I stopped by with a friend.

The store, as I mentioned, is super tiny with maybe a maximum seating of 5 or 6 including the counters. On the menu are pita and souvlaki (which you can get with chicken, pork, or lamb) and/or salad (Greek or Tzatziki).

Prices are kept to a real minimum. Souvlaki skewers set you back only 3,000 (chicken) to 3,500 won (pork or lamb), the "souvlaki pitas", which are gyros, are 5,000 (chicken) or 5,500 (pork or lamb). The Greek salad is 5,000 while the tzatsiki salad is 4,500.

Soft drinks are 1,500 but there's also Greek herb teas available for 3,000 won. Three kinds of bottled beers (4,500 ~ 6,000) are offered while a glass of their house wine is only 3,500.

It's a casual, almost fast food-like place in which you order, and then the kitchen guys get to work on your food right away. The meats are grilled fresh right in front of you and you can watch them expertly grill and prep your choice of meat as you wait.

I went with the lamb pita, my friend went for the pork pita and we split a Greek salad between us.

The Greek salad was decent but nothing special. Points for including feta cheese (although cut super tiny) and a few olives atop the onions, tomatoes, and lettuce. There wasn't enough of the vinaigrette drizzled on top to go around and for essentially a small salad with a bit of cheese and olives, it's overpriced. Probably wouldn't order it the next time I go.

The pitas, however, are much better and tasty. I was very happy with my lamb as it was grilled just right with ever a slight bit of char and moist and flavorful (and no gamy smell). The pita was warm and chewy and filled with bits of onion, tomatoes and lettuce.

I liked the fact they didn't skimp out on the tzatziki sauce which was tasty although a bit runny compared to the real deal. There's a sprinkling of dried herbs like oregano and parsley to help give it a real Mediterranean note.

The pork was also very nicely cooked and moist. The grill guy knows his stuff. If I had to choose between the lamb and pork it would be a tough call. Both were good!

There were a few minor gripes I had. For one, the gyros was rather small (you could easily hold it with one hand while real gyros is usually a job for both your hands). A guy with a standard appetite might need to grab both a pita and souvlaki here to make it a real meal which would, however, still make it a reasonable 8,000 ~ 9,000 priced meal. And for extra authenticity it would've been nice to have the pitas get some time on the grill too and, most importantly, there should've been some fries included inside or, at the very least, on the side.

The souvlaki, which I didn't order but saw on other blog posts, is just the meat filling of your choice that's grilled and comes with some tzatziki sauce on the side for dipping if you're looking for a paleo snack.

But I realize I'm not in Greece or an area with a big Greek community or influences so Greek on the Grill is a nice imitation that should satiate any cravings without doing big damage on your wallet. I think the biggest appeal about the place is that you can easily get a few gyros as a snack or on the go... so as the weathers been pretty rad these days, it may be a nice snack or quick stop meal for those in the area.

I also think they'd do killer business if they set up shop near the Itaewon clubs and drink spots in after hours. I'd definitely bust out my wallet to have a gyros or two on the way home at 2AM after a few drinks. :)

 Ratings: 3 out of 4 stars
Greek on the Grill is a decent imitation that should satiate Greek food cravings (though perhaps not fully) for those in Korea without denting your wallet too much.

서울특별시 용산구 이태원동 64-67
64-67, Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul 


Parking: Not available.

Alcohol: Bottled beers and house wine available

Tip: Call ahead to order and pick-up if you're in the area! 

Also, Greek on the Grill has another store in the Hongdae area. That store's address and number is:
서울특별시 서교동 마포구 360-24
360-24, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul

For the Hongdae store (unfortunately not the Itaewon store) you can download this coupon to get a free ginger ale with your order but excluding on Fridays and Saturdays: