At the 2nd annual Korean BBQ Cook-off, one snaking, weaving line stretched farther than the rest--that of the new burger joint Kalbi Burger. Fittingly, the K-Town restaurant earned the "Crowd Favorite" award at the meaty celebration. Inspired by this and some juicy pictures from Midtown Lunch, I decided to give this latest incarnation of Korean fusion a try.
With its checkered floor and silver tables, Kalbi Burger initially appears to be a quintessential retro throwback diner. The menu of Asian-inspired burgers, hot dogs, fries and salads (we do, after all, live in Los Angeles), however, reveals otherwise.
I opted for the restaurant's namesake dish the Kalbi Burger ($7.95), a blend of ground chuck and kalbi topped with lettuce, onions, tomatoes, American cheese, Korean vinaigrette and a kalbi aioli sauce. I was pleased by the heft of the burger's juicy, meaty patty, multiple slices of cheese and fluffy bun, which all came together to make a satisfying bite. Although I enjoyed this classed-up version of a diner burger, I wished that the kalbi flavor was more slightly more prominent and thought that the flavors begged for the addition of a kimchi topping.
J ordered the Seoul Burger combo ($7.95)--an Angus chuck patty with lettuce, onions, American cheese, Thousand Island dressing and sauteed kimchi-- with garlic fries. Whereas my burger would have benefited from the addition of kimchi, the pickled veggies seemed out-of-place on J's, almost an afterthought.
Although the fries were average, the service we received was not. As Kalbi Burger's owner made the rounds around the restaurant, he looked J's fry basket and said, "Oh, that's not enough garlic!" and took it back to the kitchen. He quickly returned with properly garlicky fries and a few tasty dipping sauces for us to sample.
I regularly (i.e. almost weekly) crave both hamburgers and Asian flavors. Kalbi Burger neatly combined the two with satisfying burgers made with hormone- and antibiotic-free beef, a reasonable price point and friendly service.
4001 Wilshire Blvd. Unit E
Los Angeles, CA 90010