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Monthly Archives: September 2014

In The Soup

It’s been a year since the ramen burger craze first swept the nation and by sheer coincidence, here I am, writing about a ramen burger again this week. This time from CoZara, a newly opened Izakaya (Japanese Pub) in University City. I was really excited to check out their version since announcing “Ramen Sundays” a few weeks ago, where their ramen burger – topped with spicy mayo, ginger ketchup, Gruyere cheese, red onion, tomato, arugula & a fried egg – is featured from 2-8 PM (it’s not offered on their regular menu). So I ordered my burger and I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

My boyfriend ordered a bowl of pork belly ramen, which came out, cooled and he finished eating it before my food even hit the table. I was worried that there was some kind of miscommunication with the order since 1) the waitress put the bowl of ramen in the middle of the table thinking we were splitting it and 2) neither our server/bartender or the waitress made any mention of their being a delay with my food either when they brought the ramen, took the ramen away, or refilled my water glass after another five minutes of waiting. I understand that putting together ramen buns may have taken a while to prepare, but any indication of that from the staff either when I ordered or when food/drinks were brought to the table would have put me a little more at ease.

But finally, just as I was about to call it a day, my burger arrived! Served with a side of fried lotus chips, this thing was a beast.

First word of advice: LEAVE THE STICK IN! It is impossible to eat this burger any other way. Second: The ramen bun was extremely thick, hot & greasy, so you may not be able to pick it up right away (even if you have been waiting over 25 minutes for your food). But despite the service snafu and it’s monstrous appearance, the burger actually had a lot of flavor. The patty itself is cooked more in the Japanese “Hamburg” style, so more similar to a meatloaf than your traditionally burger. The meat was flavored and mixed with herbs & egg and cooked all the way through. Hamburg steak was actually one of my favorite things to eat in Japan, so I kind of enjoyed that little twist. And while it was a pain to eat the thick, soggy noodle bun, it was rather tasty (even if I did eventually just give up on it altogether). I think if the noodles in the bun had been drier and fried more, and the patty maybe thinned out a little bit, this burger could definitely have been a winner (Or maybe the ramen burger craze is just past its prime!)

Burger rating: “C”

2014 Battle Of The Burger

Since I missed out on the Burger Brawl this year due to having to attend a wedding, I was excited to learn that the Philly Burger Battle was coming back for a second year. This year’s Battle Of the Burger was held once again at The Piazza at Schmidt’s, although showcasing only 19 competitors in contrast to last year’s 25. I managed to eat 20 of the 25 burgers last year, so 19 would be a piece of cake! And despite a few long lines (and a few overcooked burgers), I got to them all. So who were my favs?

1) Lotus Farm to Table’sBeef & Boar Burger“: A grass-fed beef burger topped with braised wild boar belly, red onion jam, fennel & deviled egg aioli. Despite the charred exterior, the inside was juicy and pink. I loved the flavor combo of the red onion jam & the deviled egg aioli. It was the 3rd burger I tried, and I took a few bites more then I allowed myself, but I couldn’t help it!

2) The Parish Pub’s “Italian Burger”: A handcrafted blend of Black Angus beef, Italian hot sausage & pepperoni, topped with a spicy marinara sauce & provolone cheese on a pub bun. This burger spoke directly to my Italian heritage. It was just like eating a meatball parm sandwich!

3) Rex 1516’sPimento burger“: A house blend burger topped with pimento cheese, bacon, crispy red onions and bibb lettuce on a brioche bun. This was by far my favorite burger of the bunch. The burger was cooked perfectly medium-rare and the pimento cheese had a nice, spicy kick to it. It was just so simple and delicious – no wonder it’s a staple of Rex’s daily dinner menu.

So who was the winner? REX 1516, of course! Considering a Jersey joint won the cup last year, I joked with Rex’s chef, Justin Swain, that he had to bring the Burger trophy back to Philly. I’m just glad that the crowd recognized how great this burger was, too!

And for more pics of the Burger Battle 2014, check out the album on our Facebook page (Don’t forget to “LIKE” us while you’re there!): https://www.facebook.com/ASideOfKetchup

Beast Of A Burger

Last week I talked about how the “death” of Tria in University City gave birth to The Fat Ham. In the same vein, another of my previously reviewed spots that has since closed, Bisou Bistro, has given birth to this week’s burger at Beast & Ale in Manayunk. Beast & Ale is operated by the same wonderful crew that owns the Feliz trio of restaurants (Cantina Feliz in Fort Washington (Montgomery County), La Calaca Feliz in Philadelphia’s Fairmount neighborhood, & Taqueria Feliz, also in Manayunk). Venturing away from the Mexican food realm, Beast & Ale serves up more pub-style, “greasy spoon” fare including a double decker “Beast Burger”: two quarter-pound patties topped with dijonnaise, American cheese, red onion, lettuce and pickles underneath a brioche bun. If you’re not feeling so beastly, you can get a single patty “Baby Beast” version of the burger, and there’s even a special section of “fixin’s” you can add on for an additional charge. While the burger comes paired with a mixed greens salad, you can substitute fries for $1 – and let’s face it, you’ll want to substitute fries!

I ordered the basic version of the Beast Burger. I wasn’t asked how I wanted my burger cooked, but that was to be expected since the patties are pretty thin. They came out cooked at around medium, and were still nice and juicy considering their size. The bun was a little bit too large for the width of the individual patties, but considering they were double stacked, I only found myself with one or two bun-only bites at the end. And with all the gooey cheese on each patty and meat juices, the bun certainly stood up to the challenge. I didn’t start to notice the dijonaisse flavor until my last few bites of the burger, but it didn’t really add or take away from the overall flavor of the burger itself. This burger was definitely a tastier treat then the spot’s predecessor and a fine addition to Main Street Manayunk.

Burger rating: “B”

Burgers On Tap

From their kick ass $5 happy hour to their “Sunday School” specials, Tria is one of my favorite spots in Philly. And while I was devastated when their University City location closed (even though it made way for The Fat Ham), I was excited when they announced they would open Tria Taproom, featuring beer, wine and cider all on tap with upscale bar snacks. Add to that excitement the fact that they’ve just added a burger to their menu: a whopping half-pound patty topped with Chimay cheese, beer pickles and a beer-naise sauce on a soft, toasted potato roll.

While our waitress didn’t ask how we wanted our burgers cooked, she informed us that they had been cooking them to medium-rare, which was ok with me. My burger actually came out more medium than medium-rare, which was even more ok with me! The burger patty was HUGE, but still proportional to the bun. The meat had a nice flavor, pairing well with the Chimay cheese and the sourness of the beer pickles. Every bite was just more and more enjoyable. For having just added this to their menu, Tria sure knocked it out of the park on the first try.

Burger rating: “A-“

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