Location: 213 Church Street, Toronto
As you can probably guess from the name, Dac Biet Burger isn’t a traditional burger joint — all of their burgers feature Asian-inspired flavours, from Vietnam to Japan to Korea. And sure, why not? I think we have enough traditional burger places in the city that a little bit of experimentation is not unwelcome.
Normally I’d order a simpler burger (the classic, in this case — their one non-Asian-themed burger) but hey, when in Rome, right? So I went with the Banh Mi burger, which the menu describes as coming topped with “lemongrass pork / pickled daikon & carrots / cucumber / cilantro / mayo.”
There’s something strange about this burger: though the menu implies that the pork is a topping, I think maybe this isn’t the case? I think the patty itself is pork? I suppose I could have just asked, but what do I look like… Asky McGee?
Even the Toronto media seems a bit confused; Toronto Life says that the Banh Mi burger “tops a beef patty with lemongrass pork,” while Now claims that “the banh mi burger has its own lemongrass-infused pork-belly patty.” I’m going to guess that Now is correct, since there was no pork atop the patty, and no beefy flavour to be found.
Hey, Dac Biet? Maybe be a bit more clear with your menu? When you have a sign on your wall touting the custom blend of beef you use for your burger patties, people are going to assume they’re going to get those burger patties. Crazy, I know!
Oddly enough, my dining companion ordered the pho burger — and surely this one is made with beef?? — and experienced the same lack of beefy flavour and oddly sausagey texture, so who knows what the hell is going on here.
Because yeah, the “burger” patty is essentially a sausage that’s been formed into the shape of a hamburger. The texture is sausage through and through, and the flavour comes entirely from whatever they’ve got mixed in there (lemongrass, I guess). But even as a sausage it’s not all that great, with a muddled, neither here-nor-there flavour that never particularly pops.
The toppings are pretty much classic banh mi and tasted fine, though the pickle mix was a bit over-applied.
Overall it’s not a terrible sandwich — it’s nothing special, but it doesn’t taste bad, I guess. But as a so-called hamburger, it’s a complete failure. I mean, it looks like a burger, I guess — but if it doesn’t have any of the flavours or textures that you associate with a hamburger, and it’s not that great even as its own thing, then what’s the point?
Seriously, that’s not a rhetorical question; what’s the point? If it’s not as good as an actual banh mi (and way, way more expensive than any number of traditional banh mi shops across the city), and it’s not as good as an actual hamburger, then what’s the point?
It’s the type of fusion cuisine that gives that term a bad name; it’s all style, no substance. Eating it reveals no discernible reason why these two cuisines needed to be fused.
The fries were good, at least. They had a bit of an oily flavour and about twice as much salt as they needed, but overall they were still above average.