To me, a large-sized franchise pizza is a LARGE, scrumptiously greasy, right-out-of-the-oven-hot pizza that should feed around 3 "normal" yet hungry people (I'm certain this is arguable) for a cost of about $10~$15. Having that expectation wherever I went would only result in disappointment, since coming to Korea I've realized that most pizzas in Korean franchises unfortunately do not meet these standards. In Korea, large franchise pizzas are usually about the size of American medium-sized pizzas and surprisingly cost about the same price. It's almost as if Koreans eat pizzas simply for its taste without any regard to its size seeing how unbalanced the proportion between price and quantity is in most Korean pizzas.
Without a doubt, while living here, I've eaten pizza (and undeniably enjoyed it at times as well) but it's never been a food choice I've truly enjoyed in a holistic manner. Either the pizza was high on quantity yet equally ridiculously high in price, or the price was quite low with quantity and quality both hitting rock bottom as well. For home-born Koreans who haven't tasted American pizzas, the Korean franchise pizzas might be delicious, but to someone who's experienced the goodness back in the States, only disappointment mixed with nostalgia looms ahead upon sight of these hanguk pizzas.
If anything, all I wanted was a pizza that offered high quantity with a decent price and with a pizzeria named PizzaGate near Ewha Women's University, that's exactly what I got. Actually, PizzaGate isn't a decent price -- it's actually really cheap considering how pricey franchise pizzas can get in Korea.
At PizzaGate, you get 2 large pizzas for the price of 1. You heard me correctly -- 2 for 1. Or actually, PizzaGate likes to call it: 1+1, because according to them you get a free pizza for every pizza you buy. That actually might make more sense, since the "price of 1" of their pizzas is really either equal to or less than most other large pizzas sold in most major franchise pizzerias.
The pizzas at PizzaGate are advertised as "large" and according to Korean pizza standards, they are large-sized being 12-inches in diameter, but they aren't LARGE. But really it doesn't have to be, because you're given two pizzas, which in my opinion is essentially LARGE, just split into two smaller pizzas.
Like most Korean franchise pizzerias, most people don't eat at the store location -- rather, many customers take their pizzas out and enjoy them at home. For that reason, the pizzeria itself isn't very spacious and it is almost rarely filled. According to my estimation, I'd say that about twenty customers would fit at one time, but every time I've gone it was never that packed.
The entrance first of all, is an automatic door, which I feel is unique for a franchise pizzeria. I feel it's a modern look from the regular push & pull doors and having the entrance completely see-through only makes it better. As soon as the doors open up, you're welcomed with a fresh wind coming from above and when temperatures hit the 30s out in the streets, this is more than just a warm welcome.
The counter is what I think is the centerpiece of the pizzeria, since it is the first thing you should see as you walk in. Usually, most customers walk up to the counter, order and then sit but there's obviously a freedom to do what you want.
Here, you can choose where you want to sit -- whether it be facing the wall on the left side, or facing the person you'll be enjoying your pizza with on the right side. I guess it could depend on your personality but also on seat availability.
Honestly and as you can see, there is not much to this pizzeria visually but it is very clean and organized, which is all I personally needed. Although there aren't too many employees here, all the tables are constantly cleaned and the trash is thrown away as soon as it fills up, which to me showed that this pizzeria values cleanliness for their customers. Simple is best, and this pizzeria's interior design exemplifies that.
I just want to make this clear: PizzaGate is most known for their pizzas, but you can also eat pastas and different appetizers as well. They aren't expensive (I'd say they're decently priced) but since it's the pizzas that are "Buy 1, Get 1 Free" that's all I ordered to eat with my dad.
5 to 10 minutes after ordering our two pizzas, we finally got our hot, medium-sized boxes. As I carried these boxes from the counter unto our seat, I still couldn't believe that this only cost me under 10,000 won. Having the receipt attached on the top of the boxes only made it more real.
We opened both boxes, only to be welcomed with two regular sized pizzas presumably fresh out of the oven. The pizzas themselves weren't in any way breathtaking in size, but it was definitely overwhelming considering that two people had to finish this. It was definitely an exciting type of overwhelming though, also considering how hungry we were.
These two pizzas cost exactly 9,900 won -- we chose these two out of the four pizzas that cost 9,900. 9,900 isn't too simple, but not too complex either, which is why we chose these two.
This pizza's the Combination Pizza offered at PizzaGate. It doesn't deviate too much from the common combination pizza, with an even mixture of ham and pepperoni alongside the "pizza" vegetables that at times add the occasional crunch as well as the slight misconception (you wish it was true though) that you are eating healthy. There's nothing too special with this combination pizza, but I personally didn't need it to be.
This pizza is known as the "Sweet Potato" Pizza, or in Korean it's called the "Goguma (Sweet Potato) Salad" Pizza. Sweet Potato is a pizza ingredient that seems to be used uniquely and even exclusively in Korea. Goguma pizzas or pizzas with goguma mousse circling the pizza can be found virtually anywhere in Korea, whereas they are hardly attainable across America. I believe that the reason for this is cultural seeing how much Koreans love and eat sweet potato when compared to the United States.
Nevertheless, PizzaGate's Sweet Potato Pizza didn't have a sweet potato mousse, but rather an entire sweet potato wedge atop every pizza slice, making every bite one that is filled with sweet potato. Corn is also sprinkled across the pizza, which also seems to be something done naturally in Korea even for the most basic of pizzas.
After several torturous minutes taking pictures of the visually delectable pizzas, we finally dug in to see how these pizzas tasted. Every time I go for my first slice, I need to be reminded not to underestimate the heat of these pizzas. The pizzas are REALLY hot, so at first it was difficult to hold the pizzas and place them anywhere near my mouth. It takes several minutes for your mouth and hand to adjust to the temperature, but if you're like me and if you were as hungry as I was, you can't wait a full 60 seconds. It's most definitely too long.
In no time, I'd feel the satisfaction of each hot and cheesy bite, but also realize that some skin inside my mouth was already starting to peel off due to my unwise negligence to the fact that these pizzas JUST came out of the oven. In the end, however, it's not painful or anything so it's easily ignorable or masked with the deliciousness of the pizza.
I'm not sure if it's just me, but eating this pizza brought a clear realization unto me: You NEED to hold the pizzas the way I'm holding them in the picture above. Or should I say, it's much easier to eat when you do so. First of all, the size of each pizza makes it awkward to hold it flat like a regular pizza. Second, it's HOT, so holding it by the ends of the crust allow you to hold it without burning your fingers. Usually, I'm the type to eat pizzas flat, but coming here it was difficult not to fold them.
I'm sure you can't see the cheese very well (also, the cheese hardened quite a bit at this point), but something that really stood out to me about these pizzas was the cheese. These pizzas were quite cheesy, when compared to other franchise pizzerias. In other words, when I took a bite, strings of cheese came out -- almost to the point where my other hand was necessary to cut the elongated cheese. Of course, the cheese hardened as every minute passed by but nevertheless, each bite made it hard to believe this only cost 9,900 won. The quality of the pizza when compared to other locations was definitely different and personally appealing.
In the end, we did eat most of it, but we couldn't finish it. So I asked the employee at the counter if we could have the remaining slices to go and she wrapped each slice separately and placed them inside one of their bags for free.
I'm sure that if we had only ordered one of these pizzas and shared it, it would've left us wanting for something more. Unfortunately, if we had wanted to eat pizza for 9,900 won anywhere else, that's exactly what we would've felt. Being filled yet satisfied is the most accurate way I felt after eating these franchise pizzas and the price it cost only made it better.
The Popular pizzas are technically the cheaper, simple pizzas, and the two prices that they offer are 8,900 won and 9,900 won. The 8,900 won pizzas are very simple as you're able to see while the 9,900 are also fairly simple with a few more added ingredients. The Combination and Goguma Salad Pizza we ate were both from the 9,900 won group and they were delicious.
The Premium pizzas are the more expensive (but still cheap), fancier and may I say, luxurious pizzas and the three prices that they offer are 11,900 won, 13,900 won and 15,900 won. All sorts of different types of toppings are available from barbecue chicken to steak, so PizzaGate is definitely not a pizzeria that is only to be visited once.
In order to get the pizzas "Buy 1 Get 1 Free", you need to order two pizzas from within the same price. If you want to order one from one price and order another pizza from another price, it just gets expensive and that defeats the purpose. After all, I think that each price has quite the variety so it's better just to choose the price first and then choose the pizzas within that price.
PizzaGate also offers some pasta and many different appetizers which you can try for not the heftiest amount. Each appetizer is under 2,000 won -- but of course, the amount they give you justifies that amount. For more information regarding the non-pizza menu options, check their detailed website out: PizzaGate Pastas & Appetizers.
This Lunch Set is available as well, which includes a pizza, Carbonara pasta, and a 500 mL Coke, if you'd prefer to get some pasta instead of another pizza.
Address: Sinchon St. 173-1, Seo-daemun-gu, Seoul