Monday, November 28, 2011
Korean Burger Chain Opens First
American Location at Bethesda Row
Another www.RobertDyer.net Exclusive!!!
I stopped by the brand-new Kraze Burgers restaurant at the corner of Elm St. and Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda Saturday night. If you follow me on Twitter, you've also been following my Bethesda Kraze Burger Kountdown for the last six months. (You're not following me on Twitter? Hurry over and follow me at @BethesdaRow if you want to know what's going on in downtown Bethesda!).
The biggest questions were, how would the burger taste, and how would a Korean menu of American food translate to the United States?
Those questions have now been answered.
For those of you who haven't heard about Kraze Burgers before, the company was founded by a man who wanted to bring the American burger and dining experience to Korea. There are a number of differences between most Asian Kraze franchises and the new Bethesda location.
The Korean interior layout is usually larger. Diners sit down at tables, and a waitress (or waiter) takes their orders from laminated, old-fashioned menus decorated with American-style artwork. Here in Bethesda, you order at the counter, and then sit down at the tables. There is a laminated menu, but it doesn't have the artwork and doesn't fold open like the Asian ones.
As you might expect, the Korean menu was a bit different from the American one, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that almost every burger made it across the ocean. The only burger that didn't was the one that had green tea candies on it. Also missing by my recollection: JS Energybox, the "Steak" and Egg meal (ground steak with fried eggs), "vitamin" sauce, Philly Cheesesteak, Ham and Cheese sandwich, Chilsung soda (the first Korean soft drink, introduced during the Eisenhower administration), crinkle cut fries, Idaho fries, and the Garlic Burger, to name a few.
Also, the special Korean bulgogi BBQ sauce has become "Special BBQ Sauce." But the recipe of that KG Burger is essentially the same. Another small change is the addition of mayonnaise to The Matiz.
But many other great things have made the journey, as well. Sandwich lovers (and New Orleans/Cajun cuisine fanatics like me) will enjoy the K.O. Sandwich with Cajun chicken. They also have a fresh Tomato and Mozzarella sandwich. In fact, there are many healthy and vegetarian options at Kraze Burgers.
The top one that they also have in Korea is the Vege & Bean Tofu "Burger." A classic Veggie Burger - ordered without the optional American cheese and mayonnaise - may be a vegan entree, but you should ask when ordering, because I don't know all of the ingredients that go into the vegetable patty.
Four different salads and healthy drink options round out the health-conscious side of the menu.
OK, now how about those burgers?
The Matiz is the Big Mac or Whopper of Kraze Burgers, and that's what I ordered. Note that the Bethesda restaurant is using 100% American beef, whereas the Asian stores use 100% Australian beef. Other heavy-hitters who translated from the original menu include the spicy Maximum, Megabite (two burgers, double cheese, and steak sauce are among its toppings), KG Burger (with "Grilled Oyster Mushrooms"), KS Burger and the KB++ (a KB with fried eggs and bacon).
One great option is the $6.50 sliders, which allows you to try the KB and The Matiz in a small size.
What is my opinion of The Matiz? Watch my exclusive video review and tour the inside of Kraze Burgers Bethesda with me:
The restaurant has a modern design but also uses a lot of traditional textures. Right now it is L-shaped in the former Haagen-Dazs space, but by next year, they will expand through the wall. In that new space, they will offer additional menu items, including smoothies and desserts, according to the manager Saturday night. All of the employees were friendly and very patient to help you through the ordering process if you are a first-time diner.
You'll receive a pager/beeper that will go off when your food is ready. But you can also watch the chefs making your food in the open kitchen. There's no question everything is fresh, and this is not one of those restaurants where they're heating up your burger in a microwave.
Your burger isn't made until you place the order, and even the individual buns take a turn on the grill.
I like the fact that, while Kraze Burgers is an American restaurant, it does still bring some Korean flavors to downtown Bethesda. We really don't have much in the way of Korean restaurants in town, and the sky-high rents are one of the major reasons. Hopefully we'll have more Korean dining options in the future.
But you also get some Bethesda exclusives at our new Kraze Burgers location: For a limited time, they are offering the Classic Burger, French Burger (with braised mushrooms and fried leeks) and Hawaiian Burger (yes, pineapple, but also Kraze Cream Cheese sauce and Mango sauce on top!) for $6.95 apiece. As you can tell by the ingredients, these are high-end burgers. We also get Asparagus with mozzarella cheese, and Herb Fries, both brand-new items.
Kraze Burgers also adds another late night option to downtown Bethesda, as they are open until Midnight Thursday-Saturday. And we all know that weekends begin on Thursday night in Bethesda!
So, watch the video, and then make plans to try Bethesda's newest burger at Kraze Burgers! We are lucky to have the first location outside of Asia in the world right here at Bethesda Row.
7301 Woodmont Ave.
Bethesda, MD 20814