From the December Issue of Groove Magazine.
Written and Photographed by Ara Cho
Although not your traditional sports grill in the American sense of the term, Rookies brings home cooking, comfort, and most of all great service to the Ichon area. With fabulous prices, dedication to quality ingredients, and amazing customer service, the owners promise (and deliver) an experience that cannot be beat. Located in foreigner-friendly Ichon, Rookies is easily accessible and cozy; by the looks of its full tables on a weekday night, it appears to already be a neighborhood favorite to foreign families, local students, and the American military.
Rookies arose from co-owner Helen’s brother’s seven years spent in Denver, who wanted to bring the American sports bar scene to Korea. He opened the Samgakji branch two months ago, while Helen, who spent ten years in Switzerland, opened the Ichon branch a month ago. Their international experiences, combined with the skills of Chef Byberg, from Norway, bring an international flair to Seoul’s burger scene with menu items that appeal to both the Western and Korean palate. Most interesting and most popular dishes include the Cha-dol Phillies Burger, which mixes a traditional beef burger (160g) with Korean style bulgogi marinated meat, The Fat Boy Mushroom and Ginseng Burger (199g) with mushrooms, onion, tomato, ginseng, and teriyaki sauce, and the BBQ Ranch Bacon Burger; however, the menu also includes hot dogs, chili fries, spaghetti and rice dishes, sandwiches, and some traditional Korean bar “HOF-style” food. Though their menu boasts variety, the burgers are the stars, and Helen explained to me their meticulous search for the best beef (from Australia) to create their handmade burgers, emphasizing their case for quality. For non-burger eaters, their Teriyaki Chicken Sandwich was an interesting blend of East and West, served on a nutty wheat bread, and considering the chef’s classic Italian training, the pasta dishes seemed to be a hit. The food is Western with a Korean twist, so don’t be expecting your local, greasy, dark, beer fest from your hometown, but for those wanting a little taste of home, “Korean-style,” Rookies has got your back.
The cozy restaurant has 5 tables, an outdoor patio, and boasts 8 televisions, so you won’t miss any action whether it be Korean dramas, news, or sports. Brightly lit by sports-themed lights, boating paraphernalia, and cheerful artwork, customers can feel comfortable in the homey locale. For those wanting to enjoy the food at home, Rookies also delivers to the neighboring areas. Helen and her husband are fantastic hosts, serving their customers Western comfort food at exceptional prices with Korean hospitality: a winning combination.
Ichon: Take exit 5 and walk in the direction of Yongsan station about 30 m. Pass train tracks to your left, keep going and it’ll be on your left.
English menu, English speaking
Price Range: W4500~22,000