Ssam Burger

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Sometimes I try out new places alone, and sometimes I take my kids... if it’s near GA Tech.  My daughter’s boyfriend also came along, intrigued more by a “Korean burger” than he was put off by going with his girlfriend’s strange father.

I read about Ssam in the local paper’s website, which also begs a question coming in a few years of what exactly we’ll call websites made by organizations that no longer publish newspapers.  You can’t just say it’s the local website.  Local news website?  Meh.

It read as follows: “We’ve seen Asian fusion in barbeque and  tacos, but behold!  It’s come to burgers.  Ssam has a few eye-brow raising options like the “Kimcheese” burger that pairs smoky provolone cheese with a refreshing kimchi kick.”

The other references would be Hankook Taco (which I took pictures of but suppose I never posted) and Heirloom BBQ, if I’m not mistaken.  Both of these were winners, to which my food testing crew would attest.

Ssam is located in an “experienced” looking shopping center, but not one that anyone should feel unsafe.  I’m okay with this type of venue.  I could argue that BBQ quality is inversely proportional to the quality of the building that it’s in. 

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Once in, you’re in.  “In” is a good thing, because if there’s 20 people, it’s full.  With a little local buzz and some positive Yelp ratings, I thought that it might already be full, especially ~ 12:30 on a Saturday.  It would fill in almost to capacity as we ate.

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The restaurant has only been open a couple of months, and the newness within shows.  Everything is bright and shiny.  There are no fountain drinks or beer, but canned sodas and bottled water are available.  They keep it simple.

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Like the menu.  There are not a lot of options, though you can add an abundance of extra toppings.  Otherwise, there are 8 Burgers, each $8.50, which includes a side.  There’s “only” 8, but it takes time to read the details as each is unique and otherwise not previously experienced.  You won’t find the usual burger options, not at all.

After thoughtful consideration, each of us chose a different burger, which worked out well for the girlfriend’s strange father who tends to photograph burgers and beer whenever he has a chance...

My daughter had the Seoul Burger, playing it relatively safe.  This includes the Korean BBQ patty, with sesame arugula, sliced red onion and Ssam sauce.  She opted for the onion on the side.  My test bite said “It’s good, really good!”  She also had the Korean Sweet Potato Chips, which she guarded like Smaug with his gold stash.  They have a light touch of honey, which apparently encourages hoarding.

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The guy who dates the girl with the strange father chose the Kimcheese Burger, a Korean BBQ angus beef patty, with provolone cheese, Kimchi relish, and Ssam sauce.  He thought well of it, and is considering how he might infuse some takeaways for his own cooking.

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My son got the Kinoko Burger, which includes blue cheese, shitake mushrooms and Chimichurri sauce.  A rather brave departure for the norm for him, and he enjoyed it.

I have to wonder if my kids accidentally and unknowingly swapped meals, though.  I’m sure they’ll let me know.

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Below was my choice, the Saigon Burger, with “lotus chips.”  The burger includes a lemongrass BBQ Angus beef patty, cucumber, jalapeno, Daikon carrot pickles, cilantro, and sriracha mayo.  It was good and definitely unique.  If I opted for this again, I’d skip the carrot pickles and carrots, which overwhelmed the tasty meat patty a bit, and perhaps add shitake mushrooms and provolone.  But that’s me.  It was certainly a worthy experiment.  Sriracha, by the way, is the a type of hot sauce made from a paste of chili peppers, distilled vinegar, sugar and salt.

The lotus chips were also a treat.  They’re obviously “holy,” but they’re very thin and light, and were quite good. 

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If we should visit again, I’d probably opt for the Aloha Burger, which includes the Korean Angus patty, bacon, two pineapple slices and chimichurri sauce.  I need to go back a few times, at least, but it gets expensive paying for my food testing crew.  Darn those meddling kids!

4 of 5 STARS

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