Where is Seoul’s best fast-food burger?


Banner by Minjae Chun

Seoul is dominated by the following four burger franchises: McDonald’s, Lotteria, Burger King, and Mom’s Touch. 

The Korean burger market has been growing steadily. In 2014, the burger industry was worth a total of ₩2.1 trillion. By 2020, the market grew to ₩2.96 trillion. 

No Brand Burger (NBB) is a major contributor to the rapid growth in the Korean burger market. After launching on Aug. 19,  2019, NBB quickly expanded its brand, especially when compared to other of the four franchises that took over 10 years to open 200 chains in South Korea. 

But now, different international chains and restaurants are also looking to partake in this market. For example, Five Guys, a famous US burger franchise, has announced its partnership with the Galleria department store and is expected to arrive in Seoul by 2023. 

In this growing burger market, the top four franchises have still remained relatively competitive. Thus, it is vital to review the signature menus of these franchises in the evaluation of how they have continued to monopolize the market. 

McDonald’s Big Mac
  1. McDonald’s

First established in Seoul in 1989, McDonald’s grew to become Seoul’s best-selling franchise. They have a myriad of popular menus, notably the Big Mac and Happy Meal.

The Big Mac had a simple taste that was backed by a flavorful sauce. The pickles are at the right level of sourness and, combined with the lettuce, provided a decent texture. 

Overall, this burger was a solid 6.5/10. It was obvious that this burger tried to appeal to the public by avoiding niched or unique flavors. The various components of the burger such as the American cheese added only a limited amount of taste. Because of this bland taste, the burger lacked a strong punch. 

Lotteria’s Bulgogi burger
  1. Lotteria

Lotteria is one of the earliest franchises to bring westernized food to South Korea. In 1879, Lotteria took the Hamburger, a symbol of Western food, and formed a fusion cuisine, satisfying Korean consumers’ tastes. An example of their fast food fusion cuisine is their signature menu: Bulgogi burger. 

The Bulgogi burger packs a strong flavor of bulgogi sauce. Out of the four burgers tasted, the Bulgogi sauce was the strongest. As a result, the other ingredients could not be tasted well. 

However, the overall taste was very enjoyable, having a Korean flavor in the hamburger, deserving an 8.5/10. 

Burger King’s Whopper


  1. Burger King 

Burger King was among the first Western brands to arrive in South Korea. Unlike Lotteria, which originated in Korea, Burger King focused on bringing the same flavors from the U.S.

Like McDonald’s, Burger King has a wide variety of different menus. Still, many pick the “Whopper” as their signature menu. 

The whopper patty was very crunchy. The texture of the patty made an interesting taste especially mixed with the onions. The simplistic ingredients complemented the seasoning.

Overall, this burger was a solid 9/10. Due to excessive saltiness, this burger did not get full points.

Mom’s Touch Thigh Burger
  1. Mom’s Touch 

Mom’s Touch is a franchise famous for its chicken burger. As mentioned earlier, Mom’s Touch is a relatively new chain, but grew rapidly, becoming the fourth-largest burger chain in South Korea. The signature burger for Mom’s Touch is the “Thigh Burger” (싸이버거). 

My first impression of the burger was the taste of the chicken patty. Naturally, the patty felt very savory, which came from the perfect amount of salt applied. After another bite, it became clear that the focus of the burger was to emphasize the flavor of the patty. Other ingredients felt merely supplementary, adding only minor adjustments to the burger’s chicken flavor and texture. 

The secret sauce was not overpowering, allowing the chicken taste to stand out, and had a good balance between sweet and spicy. The flavors blended well together to create a simple but effective taste. 

The lettuce was pretty fresh, adding a pleasant texture to the burger. However, the pickles were a little bit too sour, adding unwanted acidity. 

Overall, Mom’s Touch’s Thigh Burger gets a 7.5/10. The burger definitely had a good texture. The sliced onions and lettuce provided not only freshness to the meat-packed burger, but provided a crunchiness. Despite this, the flavor of the burger was still a little bit weak. The balance between sauce and chicken made the patty stand out, but the weak sauce also took away from the burger’s flavors. 

  1. Best Burger

The best burger was Burger King’s Whopper with a 9/10. Though the other burgers weren’t particularly bad, the Whopper had a unique and crispy patty.