Korean McDonald’s

When my kids were small, McDonald’s was their favorite place to go!  They loved the Happy Meals and the playgrounds that are at McDonalds in America.  McDonald’s has never particularly been a gourmet place to eat, but it is a cheap place. When I was growing up, my dad always said he liked to eat at chain restaurants because we were always traveling, and if we went to chain restaurants, he knew what to expect.  I am sure there are some people who really like McDonald’s food, but as for me, I go there because the people I am with want to go there, so I put up with the food.  I have eaten at McDonald’s all over the world, and just a few blocks from our house in Korea, up by EMart, there is a McDonald’s where we eat occasionally.  Today we went to McDonald’s for lunch, and there are a few differences between a Korean McDonald’s and an American McDonald’s.

Here is the Menu board behind the counter.  The names of the food are written both in Korean and English. However, the English is rather small.  Since you probably can’t read it, I will tell you what is written there. On the left at the top where it is all red, it says “Mc All Day Set.”  In Korea, a meal at McDonald’s or Burger King is called a “set.”  It is in Korean letters, but it is English.  Under that, it says, “Jong eel” in gold letters which means “all day.”  As you can see, the price has been cut, and Koreans are really into sales!  Under that, there is a list of burgers:  Big Mac (the Korean letters read the same as English would), McSpicy Shanghai Burger (again, it is in Korean letters, but reads like English) then there is the “Soo Soo Burger” translated means the Supreme Shrimp Burger. Next, go to the top, and the first one is Crispy Oriental Chicken Burger. The next one is called “kwata pa-oondough Cheeju” which is a Quarter Pounder with Cheese.   Under that, there is a red strip where it says “Burgers” in English, and in Korean, it says “Bou-gou menu.”  “Bou-gou” is how they say burger in Korean. It is a Koreanization of burger.  Under that, it says “Dou-bul Cheeju Bou-gou” which is Double Cheese Burger. The last one on the list is “Boolgogee bougou” which means Bulgogi Burger.  Bulgogi is a kind of Korean roast beef with a special sauce on it.  They make a hamburger and put the Korean bulgogi sauce on it.  I haven’t eaten one of these burgers, but bulgogi isn’t spicy, and if it is made right can be quite tasty.

One thing that people who travel and eat at McDonald’s learn is that the food at McDonald’s changes according to which country you are in.  When I am in Japan, I like to eat McDonald’s Skiyaki Burgers.  I am not a big fan of McDonald’s food, but Skiyaki Burgers are good.  Skykyaki is actually a type of Japanese food, and they put some in a hamburger.  Here in Korea, they also try to make the local population happy.  What to Koreans like?  Anyone who knows about Korea knows that Koreans like spicy food.  One of the most popular hamburgers among my Korean friends here in Korea is the McSpicy Shanghai Burger.  Koreans also like to see the Bulgogi Burger on the McDonald’s menu.

This guy was ordering at the counter, and it looks like he turned around just as I shot the picture.
Here is a young couple ordering at the machine in the middle of the floor.

I don’t know if they have these machines in other countries yet, but probably they do.  You can order either at the counter or at a machine in the middle of the floor.

These people are perched on high stools without a back that are built into the floor and can’t be moved.

These guys are in just regular straight back chairs., but you can see someone sitting on one of the low stools over by the window.  The stool is like an orange hassock on a round metal perch, and it is so low that the person’s face is behind the table where the straight back chairs are, and you can’t see it.
These guys are sitting on tall stools around a long table, and behind the trash can, they have short stables with short stools.

If you are used to sitting at booths at your McDonald’s in America, they don’t have booths in this McDonald’s.  They have several kinds of chairs.

I haven’t been to a McDonald’s yet in Korea that doesn’t have a second floor.  Most of the seats are on the second floor.  Korea is a small country, and it is hard to get away from stairs.  They pile the floors high.
My daughter had Chicken McNuggets and a large Coca Cola Zero.  That large size Coca Cola Zero would be a regular in the U. S. There are no sizes bigger than that here.
This is my friend’s, Hanul’s meal.  She had a McSpicy Shanghai set.  If you see, her Cola is kind of small, and would be called a small size in the U. S., but here in Korea, it is a regular size, and there are no free refills like in the U. S. at fast food joints.
Here is my meal that I could barely eat, a small hamburger, fries, and a large Coca Cola Zero.  I basically picked at it, but ate enough to knock the edge off my hunger.  I finished the hamburger and the drink, but not the fries. Sometimes, McDonalds fries are fantastic, but sometimes they give you cold fries.

We ate up on the second floor because there are always more chairs up there.  We had a nice visit as usual.  We were on our way to a Bible class, so the time was limited.

The recycling station; The little door to the right is the only thing that says “trash” on it.  It says, “eelbon tsooregee” which means that you put all your paper trash from your meal in there, but not other items.
At the recycling station:  At the top of the picture, you can see a round opening. It is for pouring your ice and whatever other drink you didn’t finish into.  At the bottom of the picture, the sign says “umsheek mool” which means whatever food you didn’t eat much be separated from other trash and put in there.
Here is where you put your cups at the recycling station. The front two say “plastic cup” on them, and the back one says “one use cups,”  in other words, paper cups.The sign next to left of the picture of the cups at the back says “plastic.” 
It looks like someone was in a hurry and didn’t take time to recycle correctly because that is not where cups go, but other plastic things. Usually straws and plastic lids are thrown in here.

Here in Korea, you can’t just go throw your trash away when you are done like you do in America.  You are expected to recycle, and the recycling station is completely organized, and they expect you to use it. Recycling is a mandatory thing in Korea everywhere.

Here is the little window where your children choose their Happy Meal toys.
If you look at the top of this picture, the U. S. and other countries may or may not have one of these, but McDonald’s and Burger King in Korea both have one.  When you order, they put a number on your receipt.  The list on the left is where your number comes up if you have ordered and they are working on your meal.  The list on the right is where your number will come up if your meal is finished.
A student studying on the second floor of McDonald’s

Here in Korea, Coffee shops are extremely popular among students. They go there, order a sandwich and a cup of tea and spend the day studying.  They use McDonald’s the same way in Korea. I have a friend who just completed his Master’s degree not long ago, and he was always calling me saying, “Let’s eat at McDonald’s, and you can help me with my thesis.”  We spent a lot of afternoons after lunch on the second floor of McDonald’s discussing his thesis, giving him good ideas and/or with him typing and me proof reading.  He works outside of Seoul now, but likes to call me and say “Let’s eat at McDonald’s again” when he comes to town, and he also loves those McSpicy Shanghai Burgers.

Signs from the drive through.


I have been to several McDonald’s in Korea, and I haven’t seen even one with playground equipment like in the U. S. or Japan.  However, they do have a drive through.  In Korea, only McDonald’s and Burger King have drive throughs.  It is a fairly new concept in Korea.  We had a student with us in our car once who doesn’t drive, and we drove through McDonald’s.  He was so thrilled!  He kept wondering if he could just walk through the drive through because he loved the idea so much!  However, their drive through has several flaws.  Koreans have a tendency not to listen well when others talk or just to talk to be heard.  They often get the order wrong when you go through the drive through.

McDonald’s delivery motor cycles all lines up

Korean McDonald’s has something that American McDonald’s and McDonald’s in other countries doesn’t have.  Koreans are really into food delivery, and McDonald’s in Korea delivers.  McDonald’s doesn’t have to advertise their delivery because they are a very popular restaurant. However, we are always finding fliers taped to the door knob of our apartment from different restaurants advertising their delivery.  When we got home today, there was a delivery motor cycle from a Pizza place sitting in our parking lot.  If McDonald’s didn’t deliver, they would miss out on a lot of business.

McDonald’s listens to culture where ever they go.  We may feel like they don’t have the best food in the world, but it is cheap, and usually edible.  You can find some of the old favorites you have from your McDonald’s from your country plus find unique things from the country where you actually are.  They have listened here in Korea. They serve shrimp burgers, bulgogi burgers, and spicy burgers.  They also recycle and deliver which are both important parts of the Korean culture.

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