National Hamburger Week 2014 Day 1: Kraze Burger
We down burgers on the regular but we always kick it up a notch the second week of May and go seven-in-seven for National Hamburger Week. This year is no exception as we dove mouth-first into our week-long observance with Kraze Burger on Monday.
Kraze, the Korean-based burger joint which opened its first U.S. location in Bethesda at the end of 2011, has had a rough year. The inaugural store at Bethesda Row filed for bankruptcy and shuttered this past January and, then, its Barracks Row joint –open just six months– closed amid fraud allegations last month. So before the Angel of Death smooches another one of Kraze’s fleeting D.C. stores, we hit up the Tysons Galleria spot on Monday.
With its near-seizure-inducing assortment of LCD menus on the walls, displaying a constantly-changing list of items (God help you if you have ADD), it’d be easy to mistake Kraze for a fast-food-style burger slinger in the same vein of Five Guys or Z-Burger. But quit being an ass by making those types of assumptions.
First up, at Kraze you can choose how you’d like your burger done. Ain’t none of that one-way, well-done bullshit here. Second, the beef comes to your table (yep, no picking up at the counter– they bring the stuff to you), on some mighty-fine tableware. Complete with dark wood decor and cozy lighting, it’s a far cry from the other plasticky, fluorescent-lit fast-casual burger joints around D.C.
We went simple, starting our Burger Week with a classic cheeseburger and, for the most part, were pleased with the result. The burger came to the table fresh-off the grill, piping hot and cooked to a near-perfect medium rare. Seriously, the thing was just beautiful with a pinkish-red center flowing with juice that made us weep tears of joy. Although slightly under-seasoned, the flavor of the meat was also great, with the substantial juiciness from the charbroiled patty making up for the minor lack of salt and pepper. The cheese –a generous portion of cheddar– was fully-melted and all-encompassing of the aforementioned beef. And the final component, embracing the meat and cheese ‘twixt its yeast-y cheeks, was a potato bun.
Now, we love potato buns but, sadly, we did not love this potato bun. The Kraze-baked bun* was much too dense, doughy and excessively chewy. And it was cold, too, which provided a harsh contrast to the hot beef it was holding. Throughout the time spent eating this burger, we couldn’t get over the mismatch between meat and bread. It was distracting at best and off-putting at worst. It was a shame.
If the bun had been better, the burger would have been stellar. Instead, it was only pretty good.
Maybe next time we’ll smuggle in a bag of Martin’s.
* Kraze bakes all their buns themselves at their Landsdowne location
Kraze Burger | 2001 International Dr. | McLean | kraze.us