People are willing to wait in line for hours at a Korean chain that only makes toast. Here is what makes it so good.
Kate Taylor/Business Insider
- Isaac Toast is a South Korean chain that serves nothing but toasted egg sandwiches, grilled fresh to order.
- There are hundreds of Isaac Toast locations in South Korea, and the chain is beginning to expand outside of the country. When the first shop opened in Singapore in 2018, customers waited for hours to get their hands on a piece of toast.
- I visited Isaac Toast in Seoul, South Korea, and discovered how the chain has crafted a perfect breakfast sandwich.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
I'm on the constant hunt for the perfect breakfast sandwich.It is a search that has brought me from McDonald's McMuffin to Dunkin's plant-based "sausage" sandwich to spending $20 to have a breakfast sandwich delivered from a now-shuttered Brooklyn brunch spot. Advertisement
While visiting Seoul, South Korea, I have been expanding my fast-food knowledge with visits to Korean chains such as Lotteria and local adaptations of American classics, such as McDonald's, Taco Bell, and KFC. I've had a lot of good fast food - but nothing blew me away like Isaac Toast.
Isaac Toast is South Korea's largest toast chain, with more than 800 locations. The tiny locations churn out nothing but Korean street toast: eggs, cheese, and other toppings sandwiched in between two pieces of white bread and grilled to order.It's a simple menu, but one that immediately won me over. Here is what it is like to visit the largest toast chain in the world:
A friend who knew about my mission to explore South Korea fast-food chains while I was in the country recommended Isaac Toast, so I headed to a location in the Myeongdong neighborhood a few days after arriving in Seoul.
It's all toast, all the time at Isaac Toast. Every sandwich comes with the same bread, sauce, and an omelette made with corn.Advertisement
For my first trip, I ordered two toasts, neatly wrapped for eating on the go.
The wrappers reference Genesis 26.Advertisement
I ordered the "Bacon Best" and "Bulgogi MVP" for my first taste test of the chain.
They're both sizable, with ingredients you don't often find in a Western breakfast sandwich, like plenty of cabbage and pickles joining the cheese, eggs, and meat.Advertisement
The Bulgogi MVP in particular packs in an enormous amount of food for 3,800 won, or about $3.20. It is reminiscent of a greasy, slightly spicy sausage breakfast sandwich, overloaded with barbecue and chili sauce.
I almost wish I had gotten drunk or even descended into a hangover before eating this — it's a mighty sandwich, not made for a casual taste tester.Advertisement
The Bacon Best is a bit more manageable. The goopy cheese, the refreshing cut of cabbage, and the corn-filled omelette meld to create a delicious sandwich that deserves a place of honor alongside inexpensive, uncomplicated American diner classics.
However, for me, the best of Isaac Toast was yet to come. Eager to see what other eggy goodness the chain had to offer, I visited an even more popular kiosk location the next morning for breakfast.Advertisement
The line stretched down the street, with employees making each toast to order. I ended up waiting for 20 minutes in the cold before I reached the front of the line.
The menu is more limited than at the other location, but nothing is more than 4,000 won, or $3.36.Advertisement
As I waited, I snuck a look at the toasts being made. Each toast is made fresh to order, meaning it is warm and crisp, with cheese at the ideal levels of meltiness.
I got the Ham Special — an order that cost me just $2.44 and now ranks among my top breakfast sandwiches of all time.Advertisement
Maybe the workers at this Isaac Toast location were slightly more skilled grillers. Maybe it was the intrinsic perfection of the combination of ham, cheese, eggs, radish, and pickles.
Whatever it was, this was close to my platonic ideal of a breakfast sandwich — simple, but almost incomprehensibly satisfying. Some things just work. And this sandwich worked, a perfect amalgamation that was greater than the sum of its parts.Advertisement
While most Isaac Toast locations are in South Korea, the chain has expanded into Malaysia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Singapore in recent years. When the first location opened in Singapore in 2018, customers waited for hours to get their hands on the toast.
Isaac Toast's first location in the US shuttered in 2011, a year and a half after it opened. Maybe Americans were too blinded by avocado toast to realize what we're missing out on: toast and eggs, freshly grilled, straightforward and perfect in its own right.Advertisement
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