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In-N-Out in Korea: Crycheese Burger

If you've lived in California, you've probably tasted In-N-Out and thought it was one of the best burgers you've tried for the ridiculous price they're sold for. If you've lived anywhere else, you've probably never tasted it albeit constantly hearing about it and have only tried it occasionally upon a California visit. Fortunately, I had the honor to live in the state that offers this delicacy and live only a couple blocks away from a joint. I had it almost weekly with my family like many other families seemingly did. I had it so frequently that I took having this wonder for granted because I knew it wouldn't be leaving me and I wouldn't be leaving it anytime soon.

Then I came to Korea, and it was a crave that I've ceaselessly had. With burgers from the most common franchises ranging from 3,000 to 6,000 won and being formerly refrigerated, that crave only became stronger. To get anything close to what In-N-Out offered, I had to go to those handmade burger places (수제 버거 / su-jae burger) and pay almost double the price of the refrigerated ones. For that reason, I never really ate burgers coming to Korea. I can confidently say it was because In-N-Out had already won me over once.

After two years since my last Double-Double and animal fries, I received a text from someone who simply sent me a series of pictures of food. It wasn't any kind of food though. In whatever angle or zoom I saw it, it was definitely the familiar burgers I had loved back in Los Angeles. The inner brown wrapper inside the outer white and red wrapper with the familiar letters that identified each burger.. the white mini tray that holds the fries with "Fresh Potatoes" encrypted on one side.. most significantly, the tiny yet even visually explosive yellow chilies in the tiny plastic bags..

It was In-N-Out in Korea. It was under a different name though. It was called Crycheese Burger.

Similarities between Crycheese and In-N-Out are largely drawn from their food, not at all from the way the restaurant actually looks. The exterior design of this restaurant is not a tad bit similar to In-N-Out's palm trees or the all white walls. Similar to most In-N-Outs, however, it does have huge windows (Crycheese actually only has one ... ) that blatantly show everything inside, but nearly all restaurants in Korea the size of Crycheese have a large window in the front like that so it's hard to say that's a similarity. In conclusion, there's just no similarity judging from the cover of this book.

The interior design of the restaurant doesn't resonate too deeply with an In-N-Out either since you won't find the all-too-famous "Quality You Can Taste" slogan anywhere. Rather, it will look very much like any independent regular handmade burger place in Korea. It only started a few months ago, so there's not too much to expect in terms of design.

As you can briefly see, there are many picture frames hung up on the walls with all sorts of pictures, some relevant to the restaurant while others just for decoration. There's actually one specific picture frame where there's a picture of Crycheese's manager with an In-N-Out employee in the United States and under it is a letter to all the customers regarding how he got this started up and what he seeks to do in the future. It's on the left wall as you walk towards the counter.

I personally really like how the chairs and tables are set up at Crycheese. Mind you, there aren't too many seats seeing that the restaurant isn't very big so it can probably fit about 20~30 people at one time. Most of these tables and seats are movable so depending on how many people follow you here, you can accommodate the seats accordingly. You'd obviously have to hope that not too many people are there already though! 

The seats aren't comfy but nevertheless quite comfortable. The tables seem to always be cleaned up as I've yet to see a dirty table at this place like you might often see at franchise restaurants. Overall, the manager and his employees keep the place clean and they value cleanliness and neatness quite a bit. It's very simple and organized, even if the place is packed as far as I've seen.

Here's why Crycheese is rightfully considered the In-N-Out of Korea and why at first I mistook it for actually being an In-N-Out. Honestly, the pictures say it all -- there's no where further to look at.

First of all, do you see that peach-colored sauce in that picture with the two ANIMAL double-doubles? For anyone doubting that this place has no similarities with In-N-Out, this will have them raising their hands in the air and crying touche. 

From the way the patty looks to how fresh and similar to In-N-Out the vegetables look, these hamburgers, cheeseburgers and even Double-Doubles are undoubtedly influenced by the Californian popular burger franchise. They taste like In-N-Out, so they taste incredible and you're never left with the feeling of heaviness that you might otherwise get after grabbing a Big Mac. For some reason, these Crycheese burgers SEEM healthier both visually and in the way they taste, although they may not be so necessarily. 

As you can see, even the simplest of the burgers, the Hamburger, is PACKED with different ingredients. It really makes you wonder how Crycheese make a profit from these burgers. Although meat doesn't comprise too much of the ingredients inside the burger (like In-N-Out), you'll feel that it's enough to prevent you from thinking that you're biting into a burger of vegetables. The different tastes from the meat, vegetables and the sauce all mix together like a well-conducted orchestra to form a piece that'll bring satisfaction unto the innermost corners of your soul. Obviously, that simile was a bit over-exaggerated but the ingredients really do mix well.

Honestly, don't take my word for it -- you really need to come try it and see for yourself.

All the burgers are fully customizable as well, just like In-N-Out. If there's something in your burger that you don't want, they'll take it out for you only if you let them know. These burgers are made on the spot as soon as the order is in, so they allow you to choose what you want out. You're also given the choice between raw and cooked onions, which again, is inspired by In-N-Out's way of ordering burgers.

The only significant difference in the food is definitely the fries. Unfortunately, you can't see the huge potato slicers that are usually visible in the kitchens of most In-N-Outs and the fries aren't shaped like the original and traditional french fries. The amount they serve isn't the greatest (that is, compared to In-N-Out's fries), but it's not that bad either. The animal style dressing is also visually different, but it will definitely get you thinking of In-N-Out when you try it! The "Cheese Fries" as they are called here are technically Koreanized animal style fries.

Also, if you ask for these yellow chilies ... YES, these famous spicy yet addictive chilies, they'll give you as much as you want for FREE. Anyone still doubting that Crycheese isn't similar to In-N-Out?

Overall, the food is honestly, incredibly similar to In-N-Out and although there are several differences, you can't find anything as close as it both taste-wise AND especially price-wise anywhere in Korea (for price information, refer to "How much does it cost?"). Crycheese is certainly a go-to for not only once but numerous times in one's stay in Korea even if it may be quite far from Seoul and in the middle of nowhere. After one visit you'll realize that it's truly worth it.

Crycheese is famous for how similar the burgers taste and look like when compared to In-N-Out, but it is also famous for how similar the burgers are priced. Take a look at the menu that's hung over the counter.

First of all, something unique about the menu is its simplicity, which shows the influence lying behind this restaurant's original foundations. Only the main food items are listed alongside their prices, which was a nice relief from burger restaurants (even franchises) that either have numerous and hardly readable items listed in the menu or pictures that usually falsely display the reality of the burgers they sell. If anything, customers might be overwhelmed by how the burgers look like after thinking they would be getting something really worth 2,400 won.

Now, let's talk about the prices.

Simply put, the food here is INCREDIBLY cheap. A hamburger costing 2,400 won- Such a price in itself for even a franchise burger is rare, and you will come to a greater realization regarding how comparatively cheap these hamburgers are when you see the quality of each individual burger. Add in 500 won and you get yourself a Cheeseburger and if you'd like the classic Double-Double, it will only cost you 4,000 won. 

The sets might seem a bit more expensive since each menu set costs at least 5,000 won, but each set includes fries and a drink, which by the way gives you UNLIMITED access to their drinks. There isn't much variety, but it has the basics (Pepsi, Cider, etc.) including some lemonade, which is everything that's needed.

Crycheese is unfortunately quite hidden in the outskirts of Bucheon Station, so it's essential that you know how to get there if it is your first time. After your first time, returning won't be as big of a hassle.

Location : Kyoungki Bucheonsi Wonmigu Simgokdong 407-2(Sinheungro 52Gil 35, 경기 부천시 원미구 심곡동)