Invariably, when asked what is an “American food” around the world, this ‘dish’ will be in the top 5 on everyone’s lists. Don’t let the name fool you, fries have historically ambiguous beginnings that are still being debated. Was it the Belgians or the French that first started frying up thin slices of potatoes? I don’t know, but what can’t be argued is that since coming to America and, subsequently, being spread around the world by American fast-food chains and expats, this dish is now firmly deep-fried into the minds of most of the non-European world as uniquely American. In Korea, this is the first thing my students come up with when I ask them what is an American food. These days, Seoul is inundated with fries in many forms, mostly of the fast-food soggy sadness variety, however. So where do we get those greasy morsels of heart-stopping goodness we grew up clogging our arteries with? Keep reading to find out my picks for the top six fries in the neighborhood.
A Note on Judging
Fries are pretty straight forward, so there will only be two categories for my judging. The first will be the fry itself. How are the potatoes? Are they thick-cut or shoestring? Are they soggy in the middle, hard and crunchy etc...? The second category is the toppings. Fries by themselves are only so good, they need friends to join them down your gullet for peak satisfaction. What comes on them? Cheese, meat, sauces etc... This was a delicious article to write, so let’s get to it!
#6 Seoul Fries @ Grill5Taco
If you have read my review of Grill5Taco this won’t come as any surprise that they are at the bottom of the list. However, they are on the list and that is better than nothing. These fries are aglow with electric red hot sauce that looks like the blood of an alien in a sci-fi flick. They come with a crown of onions atop a sizable basket of average sized (and average cooked) fries. The cheese is the same as the vat o’ stadium cheese from the nachos on offer, but they are not normal fries, which puts them on the list in the first place. They are not terrible, contrary to what you may think with my description. But they aren’t exactly awesome either. I’d rather have these than the lip-stingingly salty McDonald’s fries though. Coming in at just under 10k, these fries are also a bit over-priced for what they are, but cheaper than most on this list.
Scores: Fries - 7 Toppings - 7
#5 Kimchi Beef Fries @ Burger Hunter
Apparently, this is the thing to do. Kimchi fries are sweeping the nation. If you had never had some of the other fries on this list, these might be a really nice surprise. They are decent fries but they are lacking meat, only have three little slices of jalapeno, but are covered in spicy sauce that isn’t too overpowering. The cheese is alright and the fries are fried nicely. You could do much worse than having this on your table. With a price of 7 for the small (pictured) it isn’t too expensive. They also have a large for 10, as well.
Scores: Fries - 7 Toppings - 8
#4 Country Fries @ Shy Bana
I almost passed out when I found these fries on the menu at Shy Bana. What a wonderfully American use of fried potatoes. Fries smothered in melting cheese, a pile of ground beef, jalapenos, tomatoes, and sour cream! I wanted to dive into them like Scrooge McDuck dove into his mountain of gold coins. The picture doesn’t really do the amount of meat and sour cream justice. When spread around it slathered all the fries to the bottom of the pile. The cheese wasn’t top quality, which is why it’s at #4, but I still couldn’t stop eating them. The fries are a bit on the pricy side though at 15.
Scores: Fries - 9 Toppings - 8.5
#3 Philly Cheese Crunch Fries @ Charcoalo
These fries have had a face-lift since I reviewed the restaurant for the burger blog, but these fries remain amazing. They no longer come with a side dish of dipping sauce, but the fries are smothered in Philly cheese sauce and cheese with a little kick. It’s more a deep-fried potato and cheese stew now, but damn it’s good! I almost wanted to order a second serving even though I was about to explode. I would like to see the old way of serving it return, but these are still very nice fries. They are a bit on the expensive side at 13.2, however.
Scores: Fries - 9 Toppings - 9
#2 Kimchi Fries @ Vatos
If I was told there was crack in these, I wouldn’t be surprised. I have been addicted to these fries since I first had them in Itaewon at the first Vatos location. These things have changed the landscape of Korean/Mexican fusion in Seoul. Everyone is trying to copy these and they have all failed. Nicely fried potatoes with warm, smooth slices of kimchi layered with meat, sour cream, and sauce with onions and jalapenos to boot. The only reason these are not at the top of the list is because they aren’t as full of meat and sauce as they could be and the sauce is slightly too spicy. The sauce overpowers the taste a bit, but I still do love these fries. Coming in at 11.5, these fries aren’t budget fries either.
Scores: Fries - 10 Toppings - 9
#1 Three Wise Fries @ Coreanos
Claiming the title of “America’s Best Fries” these fries don’t disappoint. The same care that goes into the ingredients of their food, of course, goes into these fries. This is the reason I am putting these at the top of the list. The fries are perfectly fried and smothered in gooey goodness. The cheese, sauces, and meat are all well-balanced with flavor and coverage of said fries. Topped with onions, but not too much, and tomatoes, this basket of fries will keep you coming back for more. I love the tacos at Coreanos, as evidenced by my Mexican blog, but these fries are usually the first thing I crave when I want to eat there. These fries haunt my dreams. I wish I could be shoveling them into my face as I write this, in fact. Do yourself a favor and get some! Also, not a budget basket, they come in at 12.
Scores: Fries - 10 Toppings - 10
You may disagree with my assessment, but if I made you try a bunch of new fries in the process, was it really that bad? Do yourself a favor and try this whole list and see what you think. You can comment below and yell at me all you want about why I was wrong, but aren’t you happier now that you ate them all?
Eat up Apgujeong!