Monday, June 28, 2010

Koreatown Gets Burgers: Kalbi Burger

My home neighborhood of Koreatown is a food mecca for many different genres of cuisine, including Oaxacan, Central American and a million varieties of Korean. What we lack are good burger joints. Ancient Cassell's keeps on truckin' with their big, meaty patties and excellent patty melts, but they close at 4:00. When the burger craving strikes at dinner or later, we have to haul ourselves up to Umami or Fatburger in Hollywood. The recently opened Kalbi Burger just might change all of that.

Nestled into a busy strip mall at Wilshire and Wilton (valet parking is free so don't sweat it), Kalbi Burger opened a few weeks ago. Undoubtedly inspired by Kogi, their house specialty is the Kalbi Burger, a burger made 50/50 from ground chuck and kalbi in a barbecued kalbi sauce. The Seoul Burger is a regular ground chuck burger that includes sauteed kimchee. All of the burgers had good flavor, good use of condiments and a homemade-style bun that stood up nicely. I especially liked the rich flavor of the kalbi burger; I could definitely taste kalbi with every bite, but that could have been the influence of the sauce as well. The burgers are cooked medium well, which is a bit too much for me. I didn't notice until after I ordered that you could request a different doneness.

The menu includes other theme burgers, a build-your-own burger option and hot dogs. Sides include a number of different french fry options and onion rings. We tried the salt and vinegar fries. The fries were very nicely fried to a crisp, golden brown, just the way I like 'em. They had a subtle malt vinegar flavor and specks of sea salt that gave them the perfect amount of salt.

The place is new and they are still smoothing out some rough spots in the ordering process, but the service is very friendly, and the owner is out front talking to customers with a contagious enthusiasm for his recipes.

Kalbi isn't going to compete for one of the best burgers in the City, but it's a welcome addition to the neighborhood, and I'm sure I'll be headed back when the burger craving strikes.

Kalbi Burger
4001 Wilshire Blvd., Unit E
Los Angeles, CA 90010

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