Wednesday 10 September 2014

[Review] K-Town Burger from Ben's Canteen, St John's Hill

Ben's Canteen is one of those places that instantly makes you feel at home. Those in the know (and living close to and around St John's Hill will be familiar with the blue awning leading into the reclaimed and stripped back wood interior.

The first site opened in 2011, and I reviewed it during their soft launch period, and then again once they'd made a few changes to the burger couple of times (and was even invited to graffiti their toilets), so it was with great pleasure that I headed back to try a brand new burger, inspired by the tastes of Korea...


K-Town Burger - £9, Crinkle Cut Fries - £3.50, Deep fried Pickles - £4, Mac 'n' Cheese - £4


The K-Town burger sits imperiously on the plate, piles of kimchi poking out under the shiny demi-brioche bun. It's a loaded burger and satisfyingly fills up the blue-enameled plate it sits on. It's a marked improvement on their previous burger presentation.


Uh-Maz-Ing. There is some serious chemistry going on in this burger, and the key to this are the layers of spice and umami that work together in almost perfect harmony. First off the kimchi is sharp, spicy and juicy, and it's piled on top of the patty in spades. Underneath the burger is a layer of pickled ginger and cucumber which add sweetness and crunch to the mix (although the pickled cucumber could have more vineagar as the flavour is lost against the kimchi and spicy korean tomato). It's the gochujang (spicy bean paste) mixed with ketchup that adds the final glorious touch to the burger, with a huge hit of umami and a soft, lingering spiciness on the palate.


Meat Win. The meat Ben's Canteen use in their burgers is the same patty used by Patty & Bun, supplied by butcher HG Walter,  but with one small difference - they add chopped mushroom into the ground beef mix, which I considered an odd choice...until I tasted it. The caramelisation of the mushroom with the beef adds a subtle earthy/umami hit to the beef and makes it instantly moreish. It also juices the whole thing up to the max.

Burgers are cooked medium unless requested otherwise (so make sure you request it) and the med-rare is on point.


The Bun is the same Millers demi-brioche used by a range of burger restaurants across the capital. It 'almost' doesn't contain the huge amounts of juice and sauce this burger gives out...but it just about holds out. No problems here.


Yeah, I went a bit mad with accessories, sampling the mac 'n cheese, deep fried pickles and crinkle cut fries. Pickles are pretty good, interestingly going for breaded rather than the MEATLiquor-style battered, as are the crinkle cut fries, which I hadn't noticed before but make brilliant vessels for spooning mayo into your mouth. Mac 'n Cheese was good, but a touch on the dry side.

Overall rating: 9/10

If you like a bit of spice to your burger, then I urge you to visit Ben's Canteen and try this effort. The harmony running through the burger is impressive. The kimchi and korean ketchup spice is balanced, not too hot, but with longevity on the palate, and the savoury umami running through the whole thing is so moreish you don't want to stop - now if you could just match it to a cheese to add a touch more acidity...

Find Ben's Canteen on my Interactive London Burger Map

Ben's Canteen on Urbanspoon

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