Written and photographed by Justin Ramsay
Having lived in Gwangju for almost five years, I notice that there are certain themes that seem to crop up when members of the foreign community are together and reminiscing or fondly speaking of things that they miss from back home. Sometimes it’s the beach, a specific music venue, or a sports stadium. However, more often than not, these conversations lean towards the culinary side of things: barbecued ribs, buffalo wings, tacos, hot dogs, burgers, and shakes almost always find their way into these conversations. Luckily, there may be a solution for your burger and shake fix right here in our lovely city. No longer do you have to make the lengthy, expensive pilgrimage to Itaewon or Gangnam in Seoul as Patty and Bun in Bongseong-dong will more than meet your expectations.
Opened less than a year ago, Patty and Bun may be a fairly unknown restaurant to many Gwangju residents as it is not downtown or in one of the busy university districts. The storefront resembles one of the many ubiquitous coffee shops here in Korea with its small patio area adorned with a few round tables and a chalkboard… so one would be forgiven for simply passing by without paying too much attention to the blue-walled establishment, but this would be a mistake.
The interior of the restaurant has minimal decoration with a few pop art prints on the wall that suit it well and create a pleasant, laid-back dining environment. Upon taking our seats at one of the tables inside, we were given very simple, one-page menus printed on recycled paper and attached to a clipboard by one of the two staff working there. One of the menus was an English menu, so even those who aren’t too adept at reading Hangeul could order with no hassle. We were very pleasantly surprised at the variety of burgers and side dishes on offer, as well as quite a good selection of drinks.
There are seven different burgers to choose from, all of which are made with 100 percent fresh ground beef on a homemade toasted bun. Spicier options also have a picture of either one or two chili peppers next to their name to give some indication of their spiciness, which is a nice touch. The most budget-friendly burger available is the P&B Original: a traditional patty, cheese, tomato, and lettuce option, which costs 6,000 won. The slightly pricier options are the sundry and basil pesto burgers for 8,500 won and the shrimp burger for 9,000 won. French fries and a soda can be added to any burger option for 4,000 won, or French fries with fruit juice or ade for 6,500 won.
The “others” section of the menu also offers quite a variety, including buffalo wings, fried chicken, shrimp and bacon, and gambas al ajillo (Spanish-style garlic shrimp.) Various sparkling waters and fruit juices are listed in the drinks selection, along with three milkshakes and a decent selection of domestic and imported beers.
The prices are quite reasonable at Patty and Bun, so we ordered quite a variety in order to sample what was on offer. First to arrive at the table were the chili cheese fries, which were not bad, but were definitely not the highlight of the meal. The burgers arrived shortly after, which was very impressive considering the small staff. All four of the burgers that we tried looked great and were a good size without being obscenely huge. The Mexico City Burger is just a little spicy, without too much of a kick, so it’s perfect for those of you who enjoy the flavor of jalapenos but don’t want your mouth to be on fire. The second of the spicy burgers on offer is called “The Ambulance,” which has more of a bite. This burger is the perfect marriage of spiciness and flavor, and the beef patty, pepper jack cheese, and onion-flavored chili sauce tasted great together.
The other two burgers we tried were more unique and tasted just as good as, if not better than, the spicy options. I had never thought of putting a healthy amount of basil pesto and rucola on a burger before, but the Basil Pesto Burger made me wish I had. The flavors of the basil and arugula were very present without overshadowing the other ingredients too much – absolutely delicious. The final burger we tried, The Sundry, is quite a popular choice and came highly recommended. This burger contains mozzarella cheese, sundried tomatoes, basil, and granapadano cheese, and again, the flavors of the individual ingredients were very well balanced.
We also tried the Gambas al ajillo from the “others” menu as well as the buffalo wings. Both were very good, especially considering the fact that there is a hot sauce shelf in the restaurant with more than 20 different hot sauces not easily available in Korea to cater to everyone’s taste. These sauces range from mild to very spicy and make a pleasant addition to any dish on the menu. Finally, there are three shakes on the menu, and I tried the Nutella shake. The shake was thick and very sweet, without being sickly, and it rounded the meal off perfectly.
I highly recommend stopping by Patty and Bun and trying one of their delicious burgers and maybe even some of the sides. The staff are friendly, the service is good, and they definitely know their way around a grill.
PATTY & BUN
광주 남구 제석로80번길 39 1층
Jeseok-ro 80-beongil 39, Namgu, Gwangju
Hours: 11:30 am – 11:00 pm
Price Range: 10,000 to 20,000 won per person for burger and drinks