November 05, 2012

The Magic Of Lotteria

Pointing at the dishes that other customers are eating or drawing animals on napkins are viable ways to order food in countries where no one speaks a common language with me, but on occasion a relaxing fast food outlet where I can read the menu and know what I am ordering is all I need. In China, Dico's always provided a welcoming spot to grab a quick bite. The South Korean equivalent of China's homegrown answer to McDonald's is Lotteria.

The menu offers Western favourites that are localized as well as some uniquely Korean additions like the crushed ice flake dessert known as patbingsoo. Some of the more interesting items to be found at Lotteria are a burger with a patty made of fried cheese and a meal designed exclusively for calorie conscious ladies. Staff members appear noticeably nervous whenever I approach the counter to order.

Enjoyed by millions of customers for over three sumptuous decades, Lotteria is owned by the Japan based but Korean owned firm Lotte. The conglomerate has its hands in everything from supermarkets to amusement parks. The name Lotteria is a deliriously clever combination of Lotte and cafeteria. Although the first outlet opened in Japan, Lotteria was the brainchild of a South Korean man and is much more popular in the Land of the Morning Calm than it is in the the Land of the Rising Sun. Lotteria's market share in South Korea hovers around 50% in the fast food segment so I never have to wander far before finding an outlet.


"The magic of first love is our ignorance that it can ever end" - quote plastered on Lotteria wall