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There’s a Korean burger that has been the must-try in Seoul’s foodie community. And it comes from a surprising place.

Lotteria.

Yes, Lotteria. The Korean-Japanese fast food franchise known for its culinary abominations–soggy fries and cardboard tasting burgers (though their Shrimp Burger is the perfect drunk food).

In 2016, something started changing. It was as if management had gone through a change. They came out with their A-Z Burger. It was super loaded. It wasn’t sickeningly sweet.

I compare it to the American cable TV channel AMC. How a shift in management turned it from the “Short Circuit 2” channel to the “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men” channel.

This past week, in our group Restaurant Buzz Seoul, member Gilbert Lee posted this review (I’ve broken up the text to make it more readable):

So, I’ve been in a love affair these past few months with this burger from Lotteria: the Classic Cheeseburger. As a review, I feel that I should compare it with burgers that people know of in this group, and I’d have to say, the whole In-and-Out, Cali Kitchen, Shake and whatever places have lacked resonance over the test of time. I don’t remember them, other than their brand names. Actually, In-and-Out required a long line, and the other ones had questionable interior designs and service for a dumb pricey burger. I remember yellow walls and dark lighting. And lots of people eating the burgers with their eyes closed.

Anyhow, this cheeseburger I like is super! It takes seven minutes to make, sometimes even instanteously served if you order it during breakfast hours. It costs 4,000 won, and you can inhale it in about a minute. I eat two, usually, and my day’s anxiety melts away.

The burger embodies the essence of fast-food burger joints. In and out, pure. No godforsaken lines. Oh, and the servers are great! No cheap talk, just “What do you want?”

And if you look them sternly in their eyes when you say you don’t want the set meal, they feel you proper: no more questions.

As for the taste of these bad boys, oh man. The bread complements the condiments really well. So well, in fact, Lotteria should definitely make a “Condiment Burger” with no beef. The mustard and mayonnaise is that good, people. Speaking of beef, I believe the chefs at Lotteria have made their ultimate patty, perfected over the years since the restaurateur’s inception in 1979. Words do not do the patty justice. The onions are crispy, too, reminiscent of those crispy onions we’ve all had in our day.

I will definitely remember this burger forever. I had my first in Mangwon on a summer day. It was raining outside. I was sad, but then my discovery made me happy. I hope it stays on Lotteria’s menu for generations to come.

He’s talking about the Classic Cheeseburger, which is one of the new Lotteria Korean burger offerings in the past couple of years.

His post was immediately met with skepticism. Members thought he was trolling or being ironic.

I was served cold berger, mushy frnech fries, and watery coke on my first visit to Lotteria. Never again.

The only thing good about Lotteria is the cheese sticks but I'll never go there for just that. My friends and I went there 4 years ago because we couldn't find anything else open. The burger was awful. Never again here either.

Then others piped in to agree with him.

Ridicule away but the choices from the A-Z menu ain't bad for fast food

Besides, it was a great Korean burger review. Fun, entertaining, informative, enthusiastic. So much better than the pretentious crap we usually read from the resident snobs.

LOL. This review is awesome. It is a pretty decent patty and bun, although I scrape off the mass of mayo and ketchup it up.

Brave to put a review anything about Lotteria. But they really stepped it up with their classic cheese and AZ burger for sure. Their other burgers pure convenience store garbage.

The review was intriguing enough to inspire members (including me) to give it a try.

I despise Lotteria, but I'm kinda curious now

I've shunned Lotteria but I guess I will try this tomorrow

It is surprisingly good. And after my fifth or so drink here, after reading this review, I'm pretty sure I'm going to convince myself that the diet starts tomorrow anyway and SHUT UP, HONEY, YOU'RE MY WIFE, NOT MY CARDIOTRICIAN DOCTOR!

We tried. And you know what? It’s really frikkin’ good!

I’d say it’s even better than the equivalent burgers at Burger King and McDonald’s. It’s no premium burger, like Shake Shack and Five Guys. But that’s not their playground. This change is disturbing. It’s challenging everything I know.

I caved in because of your post. I usually avoid Lotteria at all costs, but the Classic Cheeseburger was pretty damn tasty! The bun was super soft and tasty, and I loved all the sauces. Oh what has become of my standards?

And intriguing opinion intriguingly worded makes for a great review. I think Lotteria is complete garbage, but you've compelled me to go downstairs and get one of these across the street right now. Thank you for your service.

And...? Honestly, I enjoyed it. Combined with the one item on the menu I previously knew to be pretty good, the shake-shake cheese fries, I think I found myself the single most appealing convenient thing to eat in my neighborhood anytime poast-9pm. My digestive system is crestfallen.

Lives up to the hype. And I'm totally not a 'bun' guy, but the bun was perhaps the most memorable hamburger bun experience I've had at a fast food place in Korea. And not just because Korean baked goods generally suck. That was amazing. Only regret is that I should've added ketchup.

And then it went to fanboy levels of unmitigated enthusiasm.

You are my inspiration Gil. #imwithgil

LMAO. I actually really really like this burger

I honestly also love this burger

Classic Cheeseburger is gram for gram the best fast food burger in the game right now

I’m craving this again.

There’s something addictive in it that I just can’t pinpoint. It’s not syrupy sweet like the Bulgogi Burgers. The patty has actual flavor. It’s oniony. The pickles make it taste a little of Krystal/White Castle. The bun is toasted.

Bonus: Mac and Cheese Sticks

Mac and Cheese Stick

I had to try their new Mac and Cheese Sticks. They taste as if Taco Bell made macaroni and cheese and deep fried it. Not bad.

I’ve been doing this long enough to know there will be a backlash. It always happens when something becomes surprisingly popular. People who mistake cynicism with intelligence will pooh-pooh it just to be contradictory.

But seriously, it’s great to see this surprising development from crappy old Lotteria.

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