When I was teaching in Deokso, which is nearly two hours away from where I live, I barely had time to prepare my lunch at home, so I would usually grab a bite to eat during my break time or buy some food to go. I would either get two different flavors of 삼각김밥 (samgak gimbap or triangle-shaped rice) or those four-layered sandwiches in the convenience store that had weird flavors but, nevertheless, tasted good. They would be enough to keep my stomach from growling for an hour or two, but not for the entire five or six hours that I was working.
Then I was introduced to “BOB BURGER”, rice burger or 밥 버거 (pronounced as “bap/bab/bop beogeo”). Bob burger has nothing to do with the animated sitcom in America called Bob’s Burger. “Bob” (밥) stands for rice in Korean. In English, 밥 is commonly spelled or pronounced as “bap, bab or bop”, but maybe rice burger manufacturers thought that BOB would be more easily remembered.
The first rice burger I ever tried was the one from Lotteria. It has the same patty, vegetables and sweet sauce that you would find in bulgogi burger, but the buns are of course, made with compressed white rice that has bits of corn and other veggies. Lotteria’s rice burger tastes great, but it won’t keep me full longer.
A few weeks ago, I tried a different kind of rice burger. My husband and I woke up late, so we opted to buy some food instead of cooking lunch. We spotted a newly opened rice burger joint in our area called 뚱스 밥버거 (Ddung’s Bob Burger), so we ordered food there.
There were a lot of rice burger flavors to choose from in the menu and they all looked delicious. I was in bob-burger-landia! ^^
I couldn’t decide which one to order, so my husband suggested 참치 닭갈비 밥버거 (tuna and spicy grilled chicken rice burger). I love tuna and dak galbi, but I’ve never eaten them altogether. My husband’s choice was 김치 불고기 밥버거 (kimchi and bulgogi rice burger). I told him, “Does your burger have to have kimchi, too?”
It didn’t take a long time for them to serve us our burgers, so I kinda figured that Ddung’s rice burgers aren’t freshly prepared. Most probably, the ingredients are precooked and heated in the microwave together with the rice buns.
Inside the joint, there’s a poster that briefly explains how bob burger is made.
Rice burger in Ddung’s is bigger and meatier than rice burger in Lotteria. My husband and I thought that one burger for each of us won’t make us full, so we also bought 떡볶이 (tteokbokki), 오징어 튀김 (deep-fried squid) and 순대 (Korean blood sausage) along the way… but after eating our burger, we couldn’t finish the rest of our food.
My rice burger’s sauce was too sour, so I didn’t really like my burger. I like my burger with more veggies, but that one didn’t have any lettuce or other vegetables. The rice buns had only bits of corn (same as Lotteria’s) and some 김가루(kimkaru or shredded salted seaweeds). Kim karu made the rice tastier, though. I was expecting “real” dak galbi meat in my burger, but they were just chunks of meat that didn’t taste like chicken. Maybe the taste of the sauce was so overpowering that I couldn’t taste the chicken?
My husband’s rice burger was savory. He was right about kimchi in rice burger. If kimchi tastes good with rice, why not with rice buns? The piquance of kimchi plus the sweet taste of bulgogi makes rice burger divine.
You can’t eat rice burger like the usual burger. It tends to fall apart when you eat it. No wonder we were given spoons to eat our burgers with.
RELATED ARTICLES FROM OTHER BLOGS:
How to Make a Rice Burger (seriouseats.com)
Bento no. 49: Vegan rice burger bento (justbento.com)
Vintage Post: Lotteria’s Rice-Vegetable Burger (zenkimchi.com)
Today I… tried a Korean rice burger at Baburger, Seoul (beehigg.wordpress.com)
Snapshots from South Korea: Burgers from Lotteria (aht.seriouseats.com)
Vietnamese Rice Burger (seouleats.com)
Drop the Bun and Bring on the…Fun? Bongouse Rice Burger is here (everydaykorea.com)