So you've read our most recent ramen burger review and you perhaps are thinking of trying it out for yourself. What can you do?
Thus far my closest run-in with a ramen burger in the wild was at the San Francisco Street Food Festival a few weeks ago. I didn't actually get a chance to taste one due to the hour-long line, but considering that diners reported the end product being so-so, I don't think I missed out on much.
Instead, we're going to introduce ourselves to the domesticated version, the one that you can cook on your own stovetop so that you can come to your own conclusions about whether or not the concept is worth it.
Now, there are "ramen burgers" in which the ramen part replaces the beef, essentially becoming a noodle sandwich (check out the one they serve at Lotteria in Japan, for instance). But what we're talking here is a burger in which the buns are made from ramen. Frankly, it's a much more appealing concept, replacing one starch with another and adding a bit of Japanese flavor to the mix.
Most ramen burgers, like this one or this one, combine a seasoned, glazed burger patty with scallions and slip it into a bun made with ramen bound together with eggs and cooked on a flat-top. For my version, which starts with instant ramen, I replace the glaze with a bit of the seasoning mix from the packet, and forgo the eggs altogether, giving you a much more ramen-y bun.
The only tricky part is getting that bun to stay in shape. With egg-based versions, you shape the bun in the bottom of a plastic container, with the egg giving it enough structure to maintain that shape as you fry it. With my egg-free version, we've got to use a different approach. Pressing the noodles into the bottom of a can opened up on both sides and frying it in oil until the noodles bind together works perfectly.
Once the ramen patties are cooked, all you've got to do is cook the burger (seasoned with ramen packet seasoning, of course), top it, and eat. You can go Japanese with the toppings and use scallions and a sweet soy sauce, but for this version I decided to go a bit more Western.
Final verdict? As Erin mentioned, eating a ramen burger doesn't satisfy your craving for a burger or for ramen, leaving you doubly unsatisfied. It's a funny looking, mildly interesting novelty at best. Let's leave it at that, shall we?
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.