A Tribute to Isaac Toast

Westerners in Korea have a love-mostly-hate relationship with Isaac Toast. Before McDonald’s started serving breakfast a few years ago, it was the closest we got to a breakfast sandwich.

The closest.

Egg. Ham. Cheese. Grilled bread.

And you have to be vigilant to make them stop right there before they layer on the shredded cabbage, sweet pickles and kiwi sauce.

Now, I’m not sure how America’s Korean food makeover known as the Korean taco would fare in the Great Han Empire. But I think we have a clue of how one of Korea’s many surreal interpretations of the sandwich would fare in the west. A branch of Isaac Toast opened in Toronto and promptly closed, which sparked this lovely soliloquy to its demise:

Apparently Canada was not ready for Korean WTF sandwiches. As quickly and mysteriously as Canada’s flagship Isaac Toast joint opened, it closed. Nary a word. Nary a warning. No parades. Not even a “closed for renovations” sign which we all acknowledge as a polite, face-saving fiction on par with “quantitative easing” or “extra judicial killings”. There’s just a papered over window and the remnants of the Isaac Toast sign high up on the wall where I’m sure no one really wants to climb up and take down. I wouldn’t.

When you chase the dragon, sometimes you’re going to get burned. Or bitten. Maybe clawed. Creative destruction is a part of life in the Mother Country and one becomes desensitized to the ephemeral nature of take-out. One day you find your perfect wang mandoo shop. 6 beautiful mystery meat dumplings for $3. Three weeks later it’s a cell phone store. Or an English academy. Or a pet store and then a pet store that sells pets in the back and bbq’d meat on a stick up front. You just live with the idea loyalty is not to be squandered on take out.

Read the rest on Yelp.

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Author: ZenKimchi

Joe McPherson founded ZenKimchi in 2004. He has been featured and sourced in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, CNN, KBS, MBC, SBS, Le Figaro, Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia, Harper’s Bazaar Korea, The Chosun Weekly, and other Korean and international media. He has consulted for The Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern,” Lonely Planet, and the PBS documentary series “Kimchi Chronicles.” Mr. McPherson has written for multiple Korean and international publications, including SEOUL Magazine, JoongAng Daily, The Korea Herald, Newsweek Korea and wrote the feature article for U.S. National publication Plate magazine’s all-Korean food issue. He has acted as dining editor for 10 Magazine and was on the judging panel for Korea for the Miele Guide. He spoke at TEDx Seoul on Korean food globalization, at TED Worldwide Talent Search on the rise of Korean cuisine, and in New York City on Korean Buddhist temple cuisine. The company ZenKimchi International organizes food tours for tourists and corporations and acts as a media liaison for foreign and Korean media and local restaurants and producers.

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  • https://twitter.com/DoddietheApe Doddie Householder

    I hear you about the rapid speed of shops changing owners/nature. Sometimes, you walk down the street and try to get your bearings because the mandu shop now is a celphone shop and the celphone shop is now a petshop. Whatthehey?

  • https://twitter.com/DoddietheApe Doddie Householder

    I hear you about the rapid speed of shops changing owners/nature. Sometimes, you walk down the street and try to get your bearings because the mandu shop now is a celphone shop and the celphone shop is now a petshop. Whatthehey?

  • https://twitter.com/jlbinkorea Jackie

    I love the cabbage and sweet sauce. Yum Yum! In fact, I’m convinced that they put crack in the sauce and that’s what makes it so delicious.

    • http://zenkimchi.com ZenKimchi

      Ha, ha, ha! I guess you’re in the “love” camp.

  • Anonymous

    They got Mr. Pizza in LA and surprisingly, they love the sweet potato crust there.

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/mr-pizza-los-angeles-3

  • matilde

    I am Portuguese and I had a really hard time with korean food while I did an exchange program in Seoul. Isaac toasts were my salvation, I miss them so much!!!