Best Diner Brunch in Korea: Original Pancake House
The humble diner is one of the cornerstones of American life but attempts to replicate the model in Korea have met mixed success. So there was much excitement at the turn of the year when Original Pancake House opened their second city location on the main road in Itaewon. The Oregon-based chain has been serving up pancakes, waffles and eggs for well over six decades, and now brings a taste of home to hungry foreigners and curious locals alike, seven days a week starting at 8 a.m.
Original Pancake House really does look like a diner, replete with 50s retro stylings right down to the checkerboard tiles on the floor. There’s a huge menu with dozens of variations on pancakes, omelettes, breakfast classics and more, as well as a chicken and waffle plate unique to the Itaewon branch.
Service is brisk and friendly and since you’re in Seoul you won’t even have to leave 15 percent for the tip, which is probably for the best given that prices are on the high side. Adult-sized pancake portions are around KRW 15,000, omelets will run you around KRW 18,000, and other dishes are similarly priced. If those prices give you sticker shock, though, rest assured that Original Pancake House nonetheless offers some of the best value brunch food in Seoul, because their portions are huge.
Pancakes come to the table in a suitably large stack; served with strawberry and banana, for instance, the serving of fruit is generous enough to float a guise of healthy eating while drowning your id in syrup. The omelets look like they’ve been made with an entire carton of eggs, easily enough to feed two people; what they lack in finesse they make up for with sheer scale. A potato hash with bacon and jalapeno is gloriously cheesy with just a little spicy kick to it, perfect for shaking off a Sunday morning hangover, especially when paired with the bottomless refill Americano for KRW 4,000.
Given that most of these savory dishes come with a complimentary side order of pancakes, which can be upgraded with your choice of toppings for a small extra charge, even the largest of appetites is likely to leave here stuffed. It may not be very fancy, and some people may find the fare a bit heavy; but for rice-weary American folks in particular, Original Pancake House is as close as you’re likely to come to a taste of home.
Original Pancake House
Yongsan-gu, Itaewon-ro 153
8am – 10pm Monday – Thursday (last order 9pm), 8 – midnight Friday – Sunday
Andy Hume writes regularly about the Seoul restaurant scene on his blog, SojuSunrise.com
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