North Korea: The best burgers and milkshakes in Pyongyang!

On our last night in Pyongyang we stopped at the Pyolmuri Café, which, our guide assured us, served the best apple cobbler in Pyongyang. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure it’s the only place in Pyongyang that serves apple cobbler. Nevertheless, I was very excited at the prospect of eating dessert, as I possess an incredible sweet tooth and had exhausted my supply of Snickers bars that I brought with me.

Despite having stuffed ourselves with delicious duck at the aptly named “Pyongyang No. 1 Duck Barbecue Restaurant” only hours before, we requested several menus from the waitresses. We were curious to see what other foods this café offered. Opened in 2005, Pyolmuri was the first foreign-owned café in Pyongyang. It was started by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency and financed by Swiss business interests. As we could discern from the menus, they serve a variety of cuisines, ranging from Italian to American to “what the hell is this?”.

Not wanting to pass up the opportunity to eat a North Korean hamburger or pizza, a group of us ordered several items off the menu.

First up, the drinks:

This drink was on the cocktails menu and was named “Blue in Rusha”, even though the drink was actually a lime green color. I had no idea what it had to do with “Rusha” (I’m guessing Russia), but it wasn’t very good.

I ordered a chocolate milkshake:

It was the strangest milkshake I have ever had. It tasted like lukewarm milk with a scoop of chocolate flavored whey protein. Yech. Along with the glass of milk-like fluid, the waitresses gave me two small saucers, one filled with sugar, and the other filled with an unknown substance, which I proceeded to dump into the glass. Hilariously, the rim of the milkshake glass was covered in sugar, so it looked like some bizarre margarita.

These are the calzone we ordered:

They were basically gigantic egg rolls dressed in ketchup and bore no resemblance to an actual Italian calzone.

Ah, the burger:

The burger was actually quite decent, for a burger in Pyongyang. The only drawback was the horrible scent; it smelled like a dirty gym sock that had been left in a locker for four years.

The pizza:

Meh. Soggy and undercooked. An Italian would weep if presented with such a pizza.

And the dessert:

A member of our group had his birthday during our tour, so we celebrated by (of course) singing him happy birthday and eating cake.

And finally, the pièce de résistance:

The best apple cobbler I’ve ever had? No. The best apple cobbler I’ve ever had in Pyongyang? Certainly.

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  1. Wait till Chef Gordon Ramsey hears about this place. Can’t wait to see him insult the government offical that runs this place.

  2. Somebody really should send Gordon Ramsay and Christopher Hitchens out there together – they could probably liberate the entire country by sarcasm alone.

    The menu brings to mind Dr Johnson’s famously sexist comment: “a woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all”.

    It also brings back nauseous memories of Soviet hotels from the mid-80s.

  3. Roger, you’ll be glad to know that Hitchens has indeed visited the DPRK (albeit, sans Gordon Ramsay) and written extensively about his trip there. Google “Hitchens North Korea” and his Slate columns should show up.

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  8. Those “calzones” are actually a japanese and taiwanese favorite, called “Omu-rice” (that is, if they’re filled with fried rice). They’re an omelette variant, not a calzone.

  9. Yeah, this was definitely a “calzone” according to the North Koreans. They were listed as such in the menu. No rice, mostly vegetables.

  10. Saaaaaay, when you folks were in Pyongyang, eating at a restaurant or from street vendors, did you ever come across a Korean beverage, something like a milkshake but contains beans, along wirh other stuff, called a “Holla Holla Shake” (sp)? This delectable looking (?), tasty treat was featured on Tony Bordain’s new program, the name that excapes me. Not ‘No Reservations.’ Anybody ever see this?

    I am very intreaged by this concoction and I have it on my Buckle List and I intend on finding one this summer, probably at a Detroit area Korean Barbecue Joint! I’ll post my findings with pictures and my review here! Thanks!

    Gary Parker
    Detroit area artist & writer
    parkerartstudios [at] yahoo [dot] com

  11. Saaaaaay, when you folks were in Pyongyang, eating at a restaurant or from street vendors, did you ever come across a Korean beverage, something like a milkshake but contains beans, along with other stuff, called a “Holla Holla Shake” (sp)? This delectable looking (?), tasty treat was featured on Tony Bordain’s new program, the name that excapes me. Not ‘No Reservations.’ Anybody ever see this?

    I am very intrigued by this concoction and I have it on my Bucket List and I intend on finding one this summer, probably at a Detroit area Korean Barbecue Joint! I’ll post my findings with pictures and my review here! Thanks!

    Gary Parker
    Detroit area artist & writer
    parkerartstudios [at] yahoo [dot] com