Korean McDonald’s: Classic Fast Food with a Korean Twist

By: Rachel Corseri

Hello family, friends, and friends I haven’t met yet! Greetings from Korea! 😀 I thought I’d send out a fun little review for all of you, because I just visited McDonald’s again and I realized that there are some major differences between McDonald’s in Korea and McDonald’s back home in America. Special shout out to Amanda Heidt for requesting this blog post! Love you girl! ❤

I’ve been to a McDonald’s in Korea three times now, and every time I’ve gotten something off the menu that is not available in America. The first time, I went to a McDonald’s with Kelly during our first weekend in Korea together. Click here for more details on my first week in Korea: Frouple Deployment Complete: Rachel’s First Week in Korea. We were craving french fries in a way that only McDonald’s could properly satisfy. We both got the McSpicy Shanghai chicken sandwich if memory serves me correctly. This and the Big Mac are two of the closest menu items to what we’re familiar with back home. The chicken sandwich was quite good, and practically the same as a spicy chicken sandwich in America. The only difference I can remember is a slightly changed mayo-based sauce. However, it was a nice taste of home, and the fries taste the same here! Woot!

I have been to the McDonald’s close to my house a couple of times now. It is only about 10-15 minutes away by bus, and it’s right across the street from the Bongdam e-mart. By the way, e-mart is like a huge multistory Walmart, with about everything you can imagine for your home and grocery needs. It’s great, and I like to grab some McDonald’s after I have received all of my e-mart goods to feel a sense of triumphant, indulgent yuminess.

The second time I visited McDonald’s, I was tempted by the Double Bulgogi Burger. Bulgogi is a popular Korean dish, which is thinly sliced beef marinated in a delicious soy sauce-based sweet sauce. If you haven’t tried it, check it out! Anyway, given the sweet beef’s popularity, it makes sense that this is one of Korean McDonald’s most popular sandwiches. I did enjoy it, but I realized that I needed to be in a certain mood for this burger. It has a very sweet glaze, so it is not as salty or savory as a burger that I am used to from back home. However, I still really enjoyed it, and I see why many people like it!

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The sweet but appetizing Double Bulgogi Burger!

Today, I visited McDonald’s yet again after a successful trip to e-mart to get snow boots. In order to solidify my purchasing accomplishment in my mind, of course I needed to visit the McDonald’s across the street to get a weird sandwich. This time, I went for the shrimp burger. This sandwich is so popular that they have a spicy and lemon iteration of the burger as well. This time, I decided to go for the simple Deluxe Shrimp Burger. I’m usually quite lucky at this McDonald’s, because the employees know enough English to understand what I’m asking for. The girl behind the counter was very nice, and understood me when I said “eat-in.” I really need to learn how to say this in Korean! Anyway, I asked for a set (meal in Konglish), with fries and a coke. Interestingly, when you order food for eat-in at a Korean McDonald’s, they give you a reusable plastic cup instead of a paper one. I will soon explain the culture shock that comes with throwing things away in Korea (it’s quite different!)

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Korean McDonald’s menu. These are the three burgers that I’ve tried so far!

I waited for my order number to be called, grabbed my tray and headed upstairs. Many restaurants and cafes in Korea are very vertical, so whether it be McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, etc., there is usually a first and second floor. The second floor is exclusively for eating. I took a seat in this area and pondered my forthcoming meal. The fries and drink tasted the same as back home, so no surprise there. The sandwich, on the other hand, was very different indeed, and in a good way! The Deluxe Shrimp Burger can be described as being similar to a Filet o’ Fish, yet more (obviously) shrimpy. I really enjoyed it! The shrimp were deep fried into a patty, and besides the other usual burger fixins, this sandwich included a sauce that is part Big Mac sauce and part tartar sauce. It was quite scrumptious! Also, the shrimp flavor didn’t punch me in the face or anything. It was a subtle and tasty flavor. I see why it is popular enough to have three versions! I would suggest this sandwich to anyone who enjoys shrimp and who wants something delectable and different. I am excited to try the spicy shrimp and lemon shrimp in the future!

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Shrimp Burger sexy close up!
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The Shrimp Burger is rated nomtastic!

After finishing eating came the task of throwing away my trash. I think this process is worth mentioning because many cafes and restaurants have a similar system for taking care of garbage. There are different receptacles for your various types of trash. This confused me at first, but I will admit that my inner environmental scientist is pleased with this choice. First, you dump all liquids and ice into one container. Then you put your cup in another. All food waste goes in one trash can, while paper and wrappers go in another. There is also often a receptacle for plastic such as straws and cup tops. It is something that is still quite new to me as an American who’s used to dumping everything in one trash can. I applaud Korea for their progressive environmental efforts. Even in a McDonald’s, I am impressed with how Korea does things. And the food is delightful too! 🙂

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The multiple receptacles involved in throwing things away in Korea. They have a system!
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I’m an adult and I never play with my food. Ever.
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