Why Gordon Ramsay's Burger Franchise Is Drawing Controversy In South Korea

Over the past few months, online sensation "Salt Bae," otherwise known as Nusret Gökçe, has come under so much fire for his restaurant menu prices, with reports stating that a steak dinner costs $1000. While that's an exorbitant amount of money, meaning pretty much anyone will agree that it's overpriced, this has also brought attention to other people who might be trying to bloat their own prices. This was seen with recent news about Gordon Ramsay's attempt to launch a South Korean location for his franchise Gordon Ramsay Burger. People knew it would be expensive, but Ramsay surprised customers with a higher price than expected. 

Back when the news was announced in September, The Korean Herald noted that the Hell's Kitchen Burger, which is the chain's signature item, costs $17.99 in the United States, with industry experts predicting that the Seoul location would have similar prices. Then on December 7, The Korea Bizwire carried the news that the original Korean price for the burger was going to be 33,000 won, which converts to about $28.00. This is even more than the amount the Hell's Kitchen Burger costs in the UK, which is £16 ($21.25). In fairness, the burger has since been priced down to 31,000 won, but that's a marginal drop. While the money may not be Salt Bae levels of extortion, many may still feel that such a price tag for any burger is not going to be worth it.

Is the burger worth the money?

The clear question to ask is whether the burger is actually worth the money. After all, people still argue that Salt Bae's steaks might be worth it. In October, Jessica Battison, a Trainee Life Writer for My London News, decided to try the Gordon Ramsay Burger restaurant in Harrods. While she could not afford the £80 ($105.84) burger on the menu, she instead tried the £25 ($33) Hell's Kitchen Burger. To note, the Hell's Kitchen Burger is already priced up at this location, while you can get the same thing at Street Burger Covent Garden for the aforementioned £16.

Biting into it, she found the combination of flavor nice, but the actual bits themselves disappointing for such a high price point. "[The patty] was ok," she wrote, "but just ok. It was thick and hearty and pink but didn't run gorgeous burger juices down my hand or have a strong meaty flavour." Better than expected, but not brilliant. Perhaps the reason why Gordon Ramsay can justify jarring prices that break headlines in South Korea is the same as Salt Bae's. Namely, you are paying to eat at a restaurant associated with Ramsay and all of the rarified feelings that come with that name, rather than the meat, cheese, and toppings that are stuffed between two pieces of bread.