Archive for ‘Burger’

October 9th, 2011

Burger (on Yom Kippur)

It’s not that I forgot (ok, yes I did forget…but that’s not the point) that it was Yom Kippur, but it’s just that I’m still new to the Jewish culture.  After I came home from long hours of work preceded by short hours of sleep, the only thing that registered in my mind was ‘hungry’.  Plus, wouldn’t you agree that a good burger beats a day of fasting and atoning?  At least my Jewish husband agreed, so off we went to our favorite burger joint, Blue Dog Beer Tavern.

If you’re like me, I’m sure you’ve watched at least one episode of a show, most likely on the travel or food channel, that claim to have scoured the globe in search of the best hamburger around.  Never left off the ultimate list is Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut, which is reputed to be the originator of the American hamburger, serving them just as they did when Grover Cleveland was president (1895).  In tribute to faceless and nameless genius, I honor whomever first transformed the original German hamburg steak into the classic American hamburger, because no matter how much American cuisine is elevated, I’ll stick to a good burger on the ground floor.

While I would love to, it’s impossible to eat burgers every day without buying heart medication in bulk at Costco.  How about turkey or veggie burgers?  Well, they’re fine, but do they really replace the aroma and taste of that charbroiled, juicy beef patty?  I don’t know about you, but I’ve never salivated in anticipation when a piece of soy falls off my veggie patty and sizzles against the coals.  By the same token, when I do splurge on the real thing, I want the best; not a 59 cent menu special that hopes melted cheese will cover up heinous beef sins.   For this reason, I wish every neighborhood had a joint like the Blue Dog, where you can relax in a casual setting, with a great beer and an even better burger. 

When I moved to America, my burger standards weren’t as high as they are today.  Back then, I thought a diner burger was the best you could do.  I’m sure you’re thinking you could do better than Denny’s at that place around the corner, but if you would have grown up in Japan like I did, you would have seen a dismal variety of burgers.  We looked up to McDonald’s as being the perfect American burger, and modeled after that, opened our own Japanese burger chains.  Since those unenlightened days, I’ve learned a lot about what makes one burger better than another.  Most important, the best burger is the one that’s the least processed.  Find a place that grinds their own meat and forms their own patties and you’re in business.  Add grass fed instead of corn fed beef and you’ve really got something delicious.  So, not having sinned too heavily this past year, I used this year’s day of atonement, Yom Kippur, to atone for all those lesser quality burgers I endured during the learning process.  If you’re going to eat on a day devoted to fasting, at least eat something great.  Blue Dog was the answer to my prayers!

June 6th, 2011

Battle of Burgers (fast food) #1

A few weeks ago, Serious Eats ran an article on In-N-Out vs. Five Guys vs. Shake Shack.  Spoiler alert.  I agree with the verdict; I think Shake Shack has the best tasting burger.  But let’s talk about In-N-Out today.

In-N-Out is a California institution.  Californians are very proud of this chain, and strongly believe this is the best burger on the earth.  Local news in Los Angeles actually broadcasted this video of a woman crying out of joy because In-N-Out just opened in Texas.  That’s how much this drive through joint is loved.  What makes makes this place so great?  People (Californians) say it’s the quality of the fresh beef and vegetables.  They also say that their beef is never frozen, which is stated on their website.  Also, they have a cute catchy name for their signature burger, Double Double (left), which has two patties and two cheeses.  You can make it 3×3, 5×5, 10×10, if you wish, thanks to a secret menu known only by a privileged few (million).  I heard once they made 100×100 in Vegas.

Another secret menu code is ‘animal style’.  Fries served up this way are topped with cheese, grilled onions and their secret sauce.  I did not like this.  I don’t even like their fries, as I find them very bland with airy potatoes.  I can’t waste my precious fry calories on these sub-par fries, natural or not.  The other popular item which isn’t on the menu is a protein style burger, which comes without a bun, but with patties wrapped in lettuce.  If you look carefully, you’ll also find another cute thing; Christian bible verses on wrappers and paper cups.  More about In-N-Out here.

There’s a very popular Japanese burger chain called Mos Burger in Japan, which most of my Japanese friends love. (Please refer to this blog for more info).  I had my first one when I visited there with my husband a couple years ago.  Since he doesn’t enjoy Japanese food (he pretty much doesn’t want any Asian food; loves Japan though, so much so he wrote a book), I thought, why not take him to Mos Burger, everybody seemed to like it.  It was very interesting, to say the least.  The meat tasted very mysterious.  I couldn’t take a second bite, neither could my husband.  But I’m sure Japanese people will list this place as one of their top 3 Japanese burger chains.  That’s how I feel about In-N-Out, I don’t mean In-N-Out is inedible like Mos Burger, but it is not that special to me.  I think the appeal of In-N-Out is its community based philosophy, which is pretty cool.

By the way, I didn’t think the testing method of Serious Eats was fair to any of these burgers.  Since there’s no In-N-Out in TriState Area (SE based in NYC), they flew one in on from San Francisco.  So, according to the site, “all toppings and spread were ordered on the side and immediately placed in individual zipper-lock bag for maximum freshness”.  Basically they deconstruct all burgers and assembled them the next day for their taste test.  Great effort, but really?