It seems that the Washington, D.C. area just can’t get enough burgers. Beef-on-bun chains continue to find their way to the Metro area. Take Kraze Burgers, a relative newcomer. The burger chain, first launched in South Korea in the ’90s, made its North American debut by way of Bethesda two years ago with a menu of fresh ingredients, never-frozen all-beef patties, and baked-in-house buns. Since then, the chain has opened up a few more of the burger joints in the Metro area, including one that opened this fall in Tysons Galleria.
On the second floor of the shopping mall diners will find the glass-walled face of the new Kraze Burgers. The interior is simple and modern; its decor consists primarily of typeset signs conveying the restaurant’s dining philosophy. Against an exposed brick wall, one can read about premium burgers, fresh-baked bread, and charbroiled beef. Orders are placed at the counter at the back of the restaurant from a manageable menu of sandwiches, salads, sides, and shakes anchored by a few Signature Burgers.
Those in search of influence from Kraze Burgers’ Seoul home should look no further than the Bulgogi Burger ($7.50). To call it a burger, though, is a bit of a misnomer. Instead of a patty the sandwich is made with thinly sliced rib eye, as with the popular Korean dish. But here, the meat is marinated to sweet and savory effect in the house Kraze sesame and soy sauce. It’s then joined with Swiss cheese, lettuce, mayonnaise, onions, and thick-cut tomato and pickles on a quality bun.
The Hawaiian Burger ($8.25) is another inventive creation, made with a slice of pineapple nearly as thick as the burger’s beef patty, both given the grilled treatment. The pineapple sweetness, surprisingly, isn’t so overwhelming against what becomes a savory beef backdrop. Swiss cheese makes a big impact – the burger’s mango sauce, not so much. Tomato, mayonnaise, and lettuce round out the burger.
The KB Original Burger ($6.50) has fewer bells and whistles, but excels in burger simplicity. Tomatoes, onions, lettuce, mayonnaise, and pickles with melting American cheese over a beef patty bring signature burger flavors together well.
Tofu and veggie burgers offer options for non-meat eaters. Sliders ($7.25) are served two to an order, the tiny burgers stacked tall on fluffy miniature buns. They’re served in the KB Original style, as well as fashioned like the K.BBQ Burger (with grilled onions slathered in smoky barbecue sauce, and bacon) and the Kraze Spicy Burger (bacon again, and a sauce that, despite the name, heats things up only a bit).
The menu also offers a build-your-own sandwich option, which starts at $5.95 and increases in cost depending on what toppings are ordered. The build-your-own path gives diners a range of options to play with, allowing the choice of bun, meat (or meat substitute) sauce, cheese, and special toppings.
For an additional $3.25, burgers can be made into meals with fries and a drink. The sides here can also be ordered separately, and there are plenty to choose from. The fresh-cut fries are served traditionally or dressed up with a dusting of Parmesan cheese and herbs. Sweet potato fries and chili-cheese fries also make the menu. The onion rings, with a crispy and crumbling breading, are massive and seem even more so when one is stacked on the K. Onion Burger.
Milkshakes, at $4.95 apiece, come in five flavors – the classic trio of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, but also a changing seasonal flavor, and an Oreo variety topped with big chunks of the chocolate-and-cream cookie.
D.C. has a taste for burgers and while these eats may be low cuisine, the local burger spots that continue to crop up elevate them with their approach. They use quality meats and ingredients thoughtfully combined on a bun. Kraze Burgers, with its focus on premium beef and fresh-baked bread, certainly fits the bill. But giving those components a chance to take focus instead of being muted by toppings would make for a better burger.
Kraze Burgers is located at 2001 International Drive, McLean. For more information, call 703-992-0618 or visit kraze.us. Restaurant hours are Monday – Sunday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.