Charles, Hyunjin, and I schlepped over to 9 Ounce, a burger joint that's a crowded shuttle-bus ride away from the center of Seoul National's campus. The place is popular, which means it's always crowded at mealtimes, so when Charles and I got there first (Hyunjin approached the resto separately), we were told we'd need to wait. We sat outside in the sweltering heat, trying to stay as immobile as possible as we talked, people-watched, and speculated on how many times the same SUV was circling around the block, possibly in search of a parking space.
Hyunjin showed up a few minutes after Charles and I sat down for our burger vigil; not long after that, a server called us inside.
Here's a pic of the restaurant's sign by the front door:
The singular "burger" seems a bit odd: "burgers and fries" would seem more natural, but that's a minor complaint given how good the food turned out to be.
Here's a peek at the menu:
I knew I'd be getting the Nine Ounce. Hyunjin ordered a California burger, which is apparently her usual here. Charles (help me out here, man) got either the Rucola or the Tongue Tied, both of which come with bacon.
Here are Hyunjin and Charles peering at the menu:
Next—a shot of our table setting. Sorry for the blurriness.
At last: the burger arrives! Below is a shot of my Nine Ounce. I'd failed to notice, on the menu, that the Nine Ounce came with caramelized onions on the patty; I scraped those off and gave them to Charles, who happily slapped them onto his burger.
If you look at the above photo, you might not see the burger patty, but it's right there in front of you, covered in melted American cheese. The burger itself was fantastic, and it's obvious that that's the restaurant's focus, not fries or anything else. The fries were kind of a joke: I got maybe five or six on my plate, so I cracked to Charles that their presence was symbolic.
But the burger was large, juicy, and cooked to perfection. No one asked me how I wanted my patty, but that didn't matter: what came out was tender and prepped with care. Not having eaten anything all day, except for a light snack during my SNU class, I devoured my burger in just a couple minutes. Astonishingly, Hyunjin quickly slaughtered her own burger, completing the foul deed not long after I had finished. Charles, pokey as he is, took his time and finished his own burger off at a leisurely pace, talking and eating. He and Hyunjin ordered beers; I had myself a can of Coke followed by a can of Dr. Pepper. Charles noted that beer might be a tactical error on the restaurant's part: people tend to nurse their beers, which slows down turnover, and that's not a good thing on a busy night.
I was amazed at how busy the place was, and I couldn't help wishing that Joe's OK Burger might enjoy a similarly packed dinner crowd. I was also surprised to realize that, even though the Hongik University neighborhood is touted as a foodie destination, the SNU neighborhood seemed to have plenty of high-quality eateries scattered through it.
9 Ounce gets my seal of approval, although I wish they'd serve more fries with their burgers. Great atmosphere, great burgers, prompt service, a well-balanced menu, and plenty of reasons to go back. Like Arnold, I'll be back.