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April 20, 2014

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Botching burgers

Despite an Asian spin on an American classic, Bachi Burgers falls short

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Beverly Poppe

Bachi Burger’s Kalbi Burger

Restaurant Guide

  • What: Bachi Burger
  • Where: 470 E. Windmill Lane; 242-2244
  • When: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays; closed Sundays

Semi-Asian food in burger form, made palatable for white people. That's all I could think during my two visits to new Green Valley joint Bachi Burger. If you're the type who wouldn't be caught dead in a pho parlor on Spring Mountain, or dipping anything in nuoc mam (fish sauce), or finds the very idea of kim chee (fermented cabbage) off-putting, then consuming these flavors in the form of an overcooked burger is probably the ideal way to introduce you to the wonders of Korean and Vietnamese cuisine. If you're a purist who likes his burgers beefy, his shrimp balls floating in soup, and his kalbi (marinated short ribs) grilled fresh — accompanied by sour, pungent sauces and highly spiced dips — then you might leave wondering what all the fuss is about.

This place wouldn't exist were it not for David Chang's East-meets-West cooking, which seduced the national food media five years ago. Chang's Momofuku empire popularized, for New Yorkers anyway, the idea of eating pork bellies on steamed Chinese buns (with hoisin sauce!). Unfortunately, the ones here are nothing but limp pork fat with a smattering of accents: scallion, radish, cilantro and a thin-sliced, tiny boiled egg. Even worse were the Peking duck buns — so salty they should've been called Dead Sea duck. Better by far was the chili chicken, a small mound of nicely spiced nuggets. My standard Angus burger was plenty juicy but woefully overcooked, and lacking in beef flavor. Finely ground and tightly packed does not a great burger make — even with a very fresh and slightly sweet bun.

The more innovative burgers — Banh-Mi (a combo of beef, pork and shrimp) and Kalbi (marinated beef and pork) — are what's crowding this place most nights, but of the two, only the Kalbi packed a punch of good meat seasoned with chili paste, ginger and garlic. My Banh-Mi (named for those weird, cheap Vietnamese sandwiches) could've been anyone's turkey burger. And our Portuguese doughnuts were undercooked and gummy, but salvaged by a decent coffee gelato.

— Originally published in Las Vegas Weekly

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