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New Burgers in town

Pound, an American-style tavern, opened near Seoul’s Garosugil in May. (Jean Oh/The Korea Herald)
Pound, an American-style tavern, opened near Seoul’s Garosugil in May. (Jean Oh/The Korea Herald)
There are plenty of burgers to be had in Seoul.

Burger fiends can take their pick from global heavyweights like Shake Shack or homegrown classics like Brooklyn the Burger Joint.

There are also newcomers, like Pound, an American-style joint that opened in Seoul’s Sinsa-dong near Garosugil this May.

At Pound, one will find owner-chef Eom Yoo-sang’s tasty, no-frills take on the perennially popular hamburger.

“I like to be able to taste the patty,” said Eom, 32, in an email interview. “The most impressionable burger I ate in America was the simplest one, so I went for a simple burger myself.” 

Pound’s boneless fried chicken thigh is so huge that it sort of drapes over the edges of its bun. (poundseoul)
Pound’s boneless fried chicken thigh is so huge that it sort of drapes over the edges of its bun. (poundseoul)
Eom and his team craft their signature burger with five components -- a brioche bun, beef patty, Swiss cheese, pickled onions and their “Pound” sauce.

The classic Pound burger does not feature bacon, lettuce, tomato or any other toppings or condiments.

So what does it taste like?

A solid burger is often the sum of its components.

With Pound employing only a handful, each component definitely stands out; from the smoky, juicy, unctuous patty to the soft, eggy, plush brioche bun to the onions that taste like French onion soup, minus the broth. 

Pound’s boneless fried chicken thigh is so huge that it sort of drapes over the edges of its bun. (poundseoul)
Pound’s boneless fried chicken thigh is so huge that it sort of drapes over the edges of its bun. (poundseoul)
In fact, the onions are so umami-rich, so punchy and satisfying that it seems impossible to achieve this level of flavorfulness without employing a trick or two.

Eom divulged his relatively straightforward secret.

“We pickle the red onions and then grill them,” Eom said.

Perhaps it is the combination of the acidic vinegar, sugar and heat that make these onions uber-caramelized and packed with flavor.

Clearly, something magical happens when those sugary, tangy pickled onions kiss the heat, but onions are just one of several elements in play.

Pound’s boneless fried chicken thigh is so huge that it sort of drapes over the edges of its bun. (poundseoul)
Pound’s boneless fried chicken thigh is so huge that it sort of drapes over the edges of its bun. (poundseoul)
“We bring in USDA Prime brisket and then wet-age it,” Eom revealed. “We wet-age the beef for about three weeks.”

After the beef has been aged, Eom says, “We grind the beef and then hand-form our patties.”

Eom and team then take those 200-gram patties and toss them on the griddle until the patties are riding the line between medium rare and medium.

Plump and succulent, the patties hold up well against the onions and cheese.

Hamburgers are not the only burgers Pound specializes in. 

Pound’s signature burger packs a flavorful punch with five components -- a brioche bun, beef patty, Swiss cheese, pickled onions and their “Pound” sauce. (poundseoul)
Pound’s signature burger packs a flavorful punch with five components -- a brioche bun, beef patty, Swiss cheese, pickled onions and their “Pound” sauce. (poundseoul)
Eom and team whip up a hefty chicken burger as well.

“We use one whole chicken thigh per burger,” Eom explained.

The boneless fried chicken thigh is so huge, with its enormous, shaggy, uber-crisp crust, that it drapes over the edges of its pain de mie bun, allowing one to crunch away and enjoy Pound’s fried chicken in its pure, unadulterated glory before hitting sauce and bun.

One bite of the meat unleashes hot juices and a delicious tang mitigated by the shattering crunch of that batter-fried crust.

To get that level of flavor and tenderness with his chicken, Eom said, “We brine the chicken using Pound’s own method and then marinate the meat in over 10 different spices.” 

In addition to burgers, Pound also serves up mac and cheese crafted with Taleggio, cheddar, Grana Padano and mozzarella cheese and a corn and milk base. (poundseoul)
In addition to burgers, Pound also serves up mac and cheese crafted with Taleggio, cheddar, Grana Padano and mozzarella cheese and a corn and milk base. (poundseoul)
With fresh buttermilk harder to get here, said Eom, sour cream and milk are used instead to give the chicken its tang.

In addition to burgers, Pound also serves up mac and cheese which is referred to as “mac corn cheese” and is crafted with Taleggio, cheddar, Grana Padano, mozzarella cheese and a corn and milk base.

Very rich and studded with bits of bacon and sweet corn, this satisfying dish is everything Pound’s burgers aren’t -- carb-centric, uber-creamy and complex.

All of this -- the streamlined burgers and conversely complex mac and cheese -- are not by accident, but a result of Eom’s own careful, deliberate planning and born from his own experiences. Those range from eating out with friends in America to time spent honing his craft at the International Culinary Center, which merged with the Institute of Culinary Education in 2020, and the Culinary Institute of America.

“I opened this place because I wanted to sell the kind of food I enjoyed eating in New York,” said Eom.

By Jean Oh (oh_jean@heraldm.com)
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