Yayyy, the best burger in America looks like that, ya’ll.
Alright. I have to say that when a reputable site like Eater makes a claim like that, I’m down to check it out. And when the burger is supposed to look like this:
I’m already salivating. I think it might just be the egg on it that really puts me over the edge. And on top of it all, it’s a bibimbap burger. When the current trend is Asian fusion–wasn’t it the Kogi Truck that started it all?–the bibimbap burger is a clever invention in a kimchi-taco creepin’ culture.
It sounds great in theory, right? My interpretation, check it out:
A juicy, grass-fed grilled beef patty on a bed of lettuce with a tuft of shredded organic pickled vegetables atop. An authentic glaze made of Korean red peppers enhances the patty’s flavor while a delicate duet of sriracha and mayonnaise emphasizes the bibimbap burger’s overall taste. One golden slow-cooked egg crowns the burger underneath a lightly toasted sesame seed bun. Served with a side of Americanized kimchi.
Damn. I should write the menus.
However, I still have to bite my own tongue for being so easily lured–willingly–by beautiful imagery and golden eggs.
I met up with NYC & Beyond‘s Albert Chan, who is on a month-long vacation in BK from his teacherly duties in Hunan, China. Since we met in Korea, I figured Social Eatz would be the perfect place to get the Americoreanized best of both worlds.
Social Eatz is a trend-follower for sure, from its overpriced
Asian-fusion American-fusion menu to the annoying apostrophed Zs infiltrating the wordz. Just because we live in a digital age where grammar is quickly being replaced by abbreviated new words doesn’t mean overkilling on the quirkiness of today’s social mores is acceptable. Maybe the menu artist should rethink the bubbly words because “app’z,” “salad’z,” “side’z,” “burger’z,” “sweet’z,” and “soup’z” are all grammatically cheesy eyesores. If this is intentional, at least the restaurant’s name should be “Social Eat’z.” The restaurant is the product of Top Chef Season 7 runner-up Angelo Sosa, and strives to be an ethnic gem in the dirt of repeatedly same-same restaurants. I appreciate the innovative effort.
As for expense, I can only assume that Social Eatz warrants this $12 explosion by thinking Oh, this is an innovative, trailblazing new burger so it should cost more. You want a cool burger to brag about eating? Pay up buddy. Innovation costs money. A hot dog should cost $8*. At least it has a cool name**.
*Oh c’mon. Even Crif Dogs has cheaper ones!
**Imperialist Hot Dog does sound pretty cool until you think about its historical significance. Hmm..
I don’t know the cost of ingredients or cost of labor (probably takes longer to shred all those cucumbers and carrots), but when I compare this to Kraze Burger, an Asian burger chain that loads its burgers with meat, eggs and basically whatever else you want–I come to the unscientific conclusion that price is an arbitrary issue. Western food is generally way more expensive in Asia, and Kraze Burger’s burgers don’t exceed 9 USD even with an excessive amount of toppings and meat.
Maybe it’s unfair that I’m comparing a single trendy joint to an East Asian chain. But Social Eatz is a chain without the chain. It serves as a take-out/eat-in “restaurant” (if you want to call it that) and could easily be the next falafel hole-in-the-wall of things Asian-inspired.
We both ordered the best burger in America, and while the presentation wasn’t terrible (though if you look closely you can see that the order of toppings is NOT identical to the site’s picture. The juicy patty is slapped on a bed of ALL the vegetables, not tenderly sandwiched in between them. Points off for false advertising), the conundrum lies in the method of eating it.
I’m no stranger to dissecting burgers with a fork and knife, but this was just impossible to eat without vegetables falling out and sauce finding its way onto everything. Albert’s bun became lachrymosely soggy.
I’ll just sum up everything we didn’t like:
+Sriracha-mayonnaise sauce was tasty but overpowering. It’s all we could taste, really.
+Meat had no flavor. Or maybe it did, I wouldn’t know because the sauce got in the way.
+A medium-rare patty was deceivingly pink. It may have been juicy, but again, the sauce was saucy.
+Egg was so slow-cooked that the whites were half-opaque, half-jello.
+Burger was lukewarm.
+Burger was beyond reconstruction once it fell apart, which was almost immediately.
I enjoyed the fries ($4.50) and interestingly milky honey mustard sauce that came with it.
My high expectations for Social Eatz gave way to an expensively underwhelming meal. I’m surprised that this burger is the supposed “best in America,” but after looking at the other contenders it’s clear that voters only had pictures to base judgements off of. Clearly the bibimbap burger is one of the more photogenic ones, although Washington D.C.’s looks particularly delicious. I’m sure Social Eatz only won because it’s innovative and it looks good.
My ambiguous determination is that I’d go back to Social Eatz on the condition that I’m not paying for it. Otherwise, I’d suggest getting a reliable burger at Shake Shack.
232 E 53rd St. NY