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International Burgers: 10 Multicultural Patties

By Linnea Covington
December 30, 2013
Photo by: Noah Fecks

Every restaurant needs an excuse to serve a burger. And hence, the international burger trend has picked up some serious steam of late - in fact, you'll even notice fast-casual chains like Olive Garden getting in on the action. From Australia to Mexico and Korea, here are 10 multicultural takes on the beloved American staple. 

  • Aussie Burger at Ants Pants Cafe in Philadelphia

    The Australian-inspired Ants Pants Café in Philadelphia serves a burger modeled after the ones you find throughout the country in cafes, fast-food shops and classic milk bars. Co-owner Liz Fleming said though venues may add their own twist to the dish, the core remains the same, which means you always get pineapple, beets and a fried egg, a combination refered to as the “works” or “with the lot.” This is exactly the way they present their 8-oz. sirloin hamburger, only here they serve it on a fresh challah bun, grill the fruit and roast the veggies.

  • Korean Burgers at Ssam Burger in Atlanta

    For a juicy burger with a Korean bent, head to this newly opened fast-food eatery in Atlanta where you can try one of their five options for only $7 each. This includes the Saigon, an 8-oz. Angus beef patty spiced with lemongrass that comes with a daikon radish and pickled carrot, jalapeños, cucumber, cilantro and the ever-prevalent Sriracha-spiked mayonnaise spread on the bun. They also serve the Seoul, a Korean barbecue-style patty topped with sesame arugula and their secret ssam sauce; or try for the cleverly named Kimcheese, which is similar only with provolone and kimchi relish. The other two burgers include a crispy tofu katsu with ginger miso slaw called the Oishi, and chicken-based patty with sweet peanut sauce that they dub the Kokko Bird. 

  • Chinese Burger at Xi'an Famous Foods in NYC

    Though it looks nothing like a hamburger, Jason Wang, co-owner of the popular Xi’an Famous Foods in New York, likens his restaurant's Chinese pork burger to the American classic. “It’s a traditional Chinese version of a hamburger,” he said, adding that it’s one of the most popular items they serve, no matter whether guests are visiting the East Village spot, their Midtown location, or the Flushing, Queens branch called Biang. Basically, it’s a tender steamed bun folded over and stuffed with spiced chunks of braised pork - no tomato, no lettuce, no cheese, just pure meaty goodness that proves so succulent, that, like with a good burger, you'll have juices dripping down your chin without a care.

  • Greek Spicy Lamb Sliders at Cava Mezze in Washington, DC

    Though these aren’t full-size burgers, the Greek-style lamb sliders at Cava Mezze in Washington, DC sure act enough like one to count. These little babies are made with freshly ground local lamb, the restaurant’s housemade harissa, arugula, tomato and onion. Then, they top the sliders off with a bright tzatziki sauce, the secret ingredient that really gives the lamb burger a Greek twist.

  • "New American" Burger at Blackbird in Chicago

    Taking premium short rib, a smoky bacon cream cheese, pickled ramps and kale, chef de cuisine David Posey’s PQM Short Rib Burger at the trendy Blackbird in Chicago takes the American-style burger to chef-y heights. After all, everyone knows kale is the “it” vegetable right now - yet oddly enough, it's rarely used as a hamburger topping. (Ramps have a fan base too, especially when they are found fresh in the farmer's market come spring.)

    Also, you can’t make a true American dish without some bacon added to it, and here Posey cleverly folds it into silky cream cheese. All this comes pressed between a buttery brioche bun and served with a burger's favorite companion, french fries. Then, to top it off, the restaurant also makes sure to focus on local, seasonal and farm-fresh ingredients, something this country has eagerly embraced, hopefully for the long run.

  • Photo by: Border Grill

    Mexican Chili Relleno Burger at Border Grill in Los Angeles

    It’s not too hard to give a burger a Mexican spin. After all, the staples of this cuisine - cheese, chiles, pork, beef  and tomatoes - go perfectly with the iconic American dish. At Border Grill in Los Angeles, they take Black Angus chuck to make a patty, then top it with a roasted poblano pepper stuffed with manchego, panela and cotija cheeses - aka, a chile relleno, a classic Mexican staple that originated in the city of Puebla. Mixed with smoky chipotle aïoli and crisp romaine lettuces, the dish has one leg in both cultures.

  • Photo by: Noah Fecks

    Filipino Burger at Jeepney in NYC

    Food from the Philippines is hot right now, which is just one of the reasons you should head to Jeepney and try their tasty Filipino burger. With this creation, chef Miguel Trinidad combines ground beef and traditional longanisa, a sausage made with spiced pork, which he turns into a juicy patty. Then, he adds a classic Filipino condiment, banana ketchup, as well as Maggi-spiked mayonnaise, and the Filipino sugarcane-vinegar pickles called atchara. Finally, it all gets placed between a challah bun - an homage, they say, to the restaurant’s East Village location.

    “This burger comes from the Philippine resort island called ‘Boracay,’ and it’s a mainstay for Filipino vacationers,” said Nicole Ponseca, co-owner of Jeepney and its sister restaurant Maharlika. She added that, on the island, the burger is small, so here they have literally beefed it up and turned it from beach food into a hearty meal. “It’s funny how there are so many American influences on our cuisine, and this is another example. It’s garlicky and sweet, and remarkably tasty.”

    For the final touch, the burger comes with kamote fries, made with a white mountain yam that has the starchiness of a potato and the sweetness of a yam.

  • Japanese Burger at Umami Burger, Nationwide

    There's a reason this national chain continues to spread: people want Japanese-style burgers. At Umami burger, which has locations in California, Florida, and New York, they give their signature dish a cultural twist by incorporating ingredients that are packed with umami, the so-called fifth taste, coined by Japanese professor Kikunae Ikeda. To do this they add ingredients that are especially umami-packed, like shiitake mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions, Parmesan and their own special umami ketchup to give the burger a super savory, mouthwatering core.

    They also do an umami-rich burger with housemade truffle cheese and a truffle glaze, as well as one with blue cheese and port-caramelized onions. Even their veggie and turkey burgers live up to the name, showcasing the amazing “pleasant savory taste” the Japanese are known for.

  • Photo by: Guzzle & Nosh via Flickr

    OLB Burger at Osteria la Buca in Los Angeles

    Even though the Italiano Burger at Olive Garden has been garnering hype, for a more gourmet Italian-inspired option, try the version at Osteria la Buca in Los Angeles. Using an all-beef patty as the basis, the chef piles on fresh arugula, blue cheese, onion and garlic aïoli.

    Naturally, they also add mozzarella, and then the whole thing gets drizzled with an imported balsamic vinegar and pressed between a fluffy brioche bun. On the side, this dish gets served with a plate of roasted fingerling potatoes, a nice change from your basic french fries.

  • Hawaiian Burger at Onomea in Brooklyn, NY

    Recently, this darling Hawaiian restaurant opened up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, much to the delight of the neighborhood. After all, where else can you get such a tasty Hawaiian-style burger in New York? Enter the Loco Moco, a ground-beef patty laced with sweet teriyaki sauce that gets served on a bed of rice rather than a bun and comes with a perfectly fried egg on top. Chase that down with a special Spam roll (think sushi but with Spam), and revel in the true meshing of an American classic with a tinge of Japanese influence.

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