Lotteria vs. McDonald’s

Some people think it is such a tragedy to eat at McDonald’s in a foreign country. They tell me, “Why are you eating a burger and French fries when you could be eating local cultural food?” Eating at the McDonald’s in a foreign country is such a unique experience though. I am always fascinated by the differences in menu offerings and how they serve food different than in the United States. Luckily for me, there are plenty of McDonald’s around in Seoul, and they even have a Korean competitor: Lotteria (롯데리아). Both serve hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, and French fries, but the flavors can be very different from each other. To make this comparison, I recruited my Dutch friend Jelle to join me at Seoul station where there is a Lotteria and McDonald’s side by side to each other.

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The Basics

In Korea, when your sandwich comes with a drink and fries, it is called a “set” where in the US it would simply be called a meal. A set comes with a burger, a drink, French fries, and one single packet of ketchup. Unlike the US, a set comes with a drink the size of 16 ounces (473 ml) which would be considered a small drink in the US. In the US, your meal would come with a 21 ounce (621 ml)  drink, which is considered to be a medium beverage. I actually like the small sized drink in Korea because I never finish my medium drinks in the US anyways, so now I just have enough soda to go with my meal instead wasting soda. There are also less type of drinks available. In the US, you might have six or more options, but in Korea you will typically have three. McDonald’s serves Coca Cola products so the classic Coca Cola and Sprite is available. At Lotteria, they serve Pepsi, Chilsung Cider (칠성사이다; similar to Sprite), and tea. Lotteria and McDonald’s also has a difference when it comes to the amount of fries you receive. If you prefer more French fries, I recommend McDonald’s because they serve the same amount of fries in a set as they would in the US. Not big into fries? Lotteria would be your choice then, and they even serve mozzarella sticks. Lastly, we have the single ketchup packet. In America, you can typically get as many packets of ketchup you want. In Korea, receiving a single packet of ketchup is tough for me because it never lasts me to eat with all of my French fries. No worries though, you can just ask the cashier for another packet of ketchup at no cost to you, and you will have enough ketchup to dunk every last one of your French fries!

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The Sandwiches

In all honesty, there could be a whole other article about the different types of sandwiches these places offer because that is how different these menus are from the US. Both restaurants offer Bulgogi burgers (불고기버거) which contains a beef patty, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and a sweet sauce called Bulgogi. I have tried this at Lotteria and can attest that it is quite delicious!  When I was at McDonald’s, I tried the Shanghai burger (상하이 스파이스 버거). This burger is actually a spicy fried chicken sandwich. It tasted fine, but I would not say it was anything earth shattering or you must try it. Both restaurants have their own take on a shrimp burger which I am hoping to try. I assume it is ground up shrimp that is made into a patty.  Between McDonald’s and Lotteria, I would say that Lotteria has a much more unusual menu. Some of their more surprising options are a Vegetable Rice Bulgogi set which is a burger that has a bun made of rice instead of bread. They also have something called a Jjamppong Burger (짬뽕버거) which appears to use instant ramen (라면) noodles as the buns for the burger.

However, if you want just your classic cheeseburger, I recommend the Lotz Burger (로츠버거) which I ate at Lotteria. When I ate with Jelle, I ate the Lotz Burger, and he ate the Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese from McDonald’s. We ordered at the same moment and received our food at the same time. However, this is not always the case because I have found that sometimes Lotteria can take more than 10 minutes to serve your food. On this particular day, it was much faster than normal, and I would guess it took less than 5 minutes. As far as overall quality of the burger, I would say they are the same. I know some people who prefer Lotteria over McDonald’s, but I think they simply meet expectations of fast food.

Delivery Service

One thing I am very keen on trying is having McDonald’s or Lotteria deliver food to me. I see people driving scooters with boxes in the back that contain food for delivery. On McDonald’s website, it seems that you can order your food online by putting in your address, selecting your food, paying, and then they will deliver it to you. For Lotteria, you can use their food delivery app or call them. This seems like a unique experience that I want to try later on!

 

If you want to check out more information about these restaurants, I recommend looking at www.mcdelivery.co.kr or www.lotteria.com.

 

Article by Catherine from the U.S.A.

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