COMBINING both potent and delicate east Asian flavours with a western fast-food staple, Yen Burger, the new Japanese-inspired burger restaurant serves Wagyu beef patties along with a host of sides, all with an Asian twist. Led by thriving female food entrepreneur Yen Nguyen and located at 1B Southwark Street, the new Japanese-inspired restaurant joins a host of renowned names in Borough Market. A short walk from London Bridge station, it’s a great location for both working lunches and weekend dinner treats.
Upon entering Yen Burger, you’re immediately greeted by minimal wood interiors which are custom designed by renowned studio ID design (winners of the 2017 Ilva Design Award). It’s a cosy two floor property that can hold up to 70 guests seated across two floors, with an additional bar area where guests can enjoy a signature cocktail and watch the chefs as they cook. It’s an interesting place that feels welcoming, although perhaps a bit brightly lit for my taste. I liked the muted gold tones across the space and felt the Asian design perfectly complemented the restaurant’s concept.
Burgers at Yen Burger
For her menu, Yen Nguyen has focused on fusing traditional Japanese ingredients along with contemporary cooking methods to bring the humble burger a new lease of life. Both Aberdeen Angus beef burgers and 100 per cent Waygu beef burgers are paired with the delicious house Yen Sauce, shisho, lettuce and pickles. “I am so excited to be opening Yen Burger and bringing my long held vision to life. I was always so influenced by my Mother’s Asian cooking, and could never go a day without it. My experiences being raised across Europe mean I am inspired by both types of cuisines and therefore I want to create something truly unique – an Asian burger.”
The bar at Yen Burger
As a lover of different and alternative cocktails I was quite excited to try Yen Burger’s extensive Asian-influenced cocktail offerings, a new experience for me. So much so that I rushed straight to the bar before even thinking about food! My delicious Lychee Dream was served to me underneath a bespoke cherry-blossom bar on the lower-ground floor where I experienced a brief moment of Japanese Zen within the hustle and bustle of central London. A sweet and crisp blend of lychee juice, fresh passion fruit, coconut sake and vodka perfectly accompanied my meal.
The bar at Yen Burger
As it was my first visit to Yen Burger, I decided that I simply had to go for the signature Yen Burger, which is made of 100 per cent Waygu beef. I really enjoyed the juiciness of the burger (which is freshly made in-house). It was cooked to medium rare perfection and was tender, moist and full of a flavour that brought me back to my travels around Japan last year. You can really sense the attention to detail the chefs place on each burger, starting with a heat branded logo on the lid of the bun, down to the presentation of each burger in a traditional bamboo steaming basket. I was genuinely excited by the prospect of eating a host of Asian sides alongside the burger.
After careful thought, I went for the crunchy Asian slaw, freshly steamed edamame beans, homemade Dashi chips and of course the deep fried chicken gyoza dumplings. I loved the Dashi chips, they were delicious, with a mild paprika kick. They went well with Yen’s signature sauce, not to mention the spicy ‘Turn Up Sauce’! I also really enjoyed the dumplings, a great accompaniment to a burger and something I’ve not seen on other burger restaurants menu’s. The coleslaw was fresh and crunchy, with an Asian zing. I would highly recommend all of the sides we tried!
I left with a new enthusiasm for burgers. My burger fatigue having been revitalised by my favourite Asian flavours, as well as a new array of unique side dishes that completely change the traditional burger experience. It’s a place that I will definitely recommend to my friends, it’s well worth the trip.
Yen Burger also offers fish, chicken and vegetarian burgers for non-beef eaters.
by Alex White
Yen Burger 1B Southwark St, London SE1 1RQ