Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fast food is too slow

My busy lifestyle doesn't afford me much time to get meals between Korean class and work. I often go to Paris Baguette and grab a mediocre sandwich there. At some point a few weeks ago I realized that they had raised the price of a sandwich from 4,000 won to 4,500 won. That seems pretty steep for a pre-made sandwich which has probably been sitting out on an unrefrigerated counter for several hours. So, after the price hike, I started looking for other places to get lunch. There's not many options for the 13 minutes or so I have between getting off the train and needing to sign into work. There is a Burger King and I think I've broken down and gone there two times since starting my job, but when I see 800 some-odd calories for one whopper jr. set written on the signboard, it makes me a little ill, so I generally look for other options.

I found Joe's Sandwich along the way to work and they make the best sandwiches I've had in Korea (and for 200 won less than Paris Baguette). Granted, they're still not amazing, but that's just what sandwiches are like in Korea. So, for the past few weeks, I've started hitting up them several times a week for my lunch. But, every time I go there, I realize they are the slowest people on the planet. How long can it take to make a sandwich? I try to think back to going to Subway or Quizno's at home... it's got to be less than 5 minutes... for an untoasted sandwich it's probably about a minute.

Here at Joe's, after taking your order they go behind what should be a clear plastic barrier to make the sandwich, much like at home. But, unlike at home, you can't see what they put into your sandwich because someone had the bright idea to cover the clear plastic with papers so you can't see what they're doing back there.

After I wait about 6 minutes or so (yes, I time it, mostly because by this point I'm getting dangerously close to being late for work), I start hearing them wrapping the sandwich. They wrap it one time, then cut it then wrap it again in a new wrapper for the most convienient eating experience. Then they stick a Joe's sticker on it and label the sandwich, because I might get it confuesed with the other twelve sandwiches I order for myself. Then (if I let them, but I try to catch them before they start) they very slowly take out a bag, slowly put a napkin in the bag with the sandwich, then slowly tape the bag shut, just in case I drop the bag and my well wrapped sandwich comes tumbling out onto the sidewalk. The whole wrapping process takes about 3 minutes from start to finish.

You know, I'm all for slowfood or whatever they call it nowadays, cooking the food properly and whatnot. But, this is a sandwich folks, and I'm late for work. No wonder the place is always empty. I don't want to think about what would happen if there were someone in line in front of me...

Today I went to Gimbap Sarang (just a typical Korean food joint) and said, screw it, I'm getting Korean food, and if I'm late for work, so be it. I ordered a kimchi jjigae to go for 3,500 won... and you know what? I was 3 minutes EARLY for work. Why does it take longer to make a sandwich than to make kimchi jjigae to go (I watched them cook it on the stove adding a few fresh vegetables to the pre-made kimchi base)? I don't understand! Anyway, from now on I think I'm sticking to Korean food. It tastes better and is evidently faster than a sandwich.


  1. Yep even the Joe's Sandwich in my area is slow. But I like their Tuna sandwiches (Hold the mustard). Just got to be careful what they put in there...sometimes can be surprising.

    Kimbop places are goood. Try to get their bulgolgi dish...I like that. Who knows why it takes so long to make a sandwich...i think they just don't have the ingredients ready to Subway and Quiznos.

  2. Paris Baguette makes one lame, expensive sandwich.

  3. Yes they do. I don't mind the cranberry chicken sandwich, but they charge 4,500 for it now and I just don't see how it's worth it when I can get something cheaper at a kimbap place or Joe's... made fresh in front of me...