“What should I try first?” I asked owners Kevin and Justin as I stared, wide-eyed, at eight humungous plates of their premium burgers. Just looking at it made my mouth water, my mind wander, and my stomach panic.
Seven of these burgers represent one country each, and the eighth one is their classic or signature International Burger Co item.
They tell me: “It depends. Where do you want to go?” I managed to try everything in one sitting. They took my taste buds to an unforgettable gastronomic field trip that night as I sampled each country flavour’s unique offering.
The food served at International Burger Co is truly as warm as the people who own the place. The restaurant’s idea is a brainchild of three admirable businessmen. They are the best of friends and the best of business partners who combined their common love for food, travel experiences, and business smarts to open this joint in the heart of San Juan. It is their objective to redefine the burger in the local scene.
Now on its third week of operations, I count myself lucky to discover this before the place starts to fill itself with people and orders.
You can take anybody to sit, relax, and give in to their particular local and international cravings. The hand painted black map on the wall, the compass in the counter, the clocks of multiple time zones, and the cute paper airplanes in the ceiling collectively render a cozy vibe that’s perfect for a night out and a good late night food trip.
All eight burger specials showcase a yummy patty which is a blended mix of cuts of local (always FRESH, never frozen!) beef. Even the bread used in the burgers are specifically designed by a trusted local supplier. It had a distinct sweet taste and texture that somehow reminds me of Cagayan de Oro’s pastel bread, a guiltless addiction from the South. The toppings differ depending on the flavor, but all these orders can be paired with their ultra-thin and yummy onion strings and twister fries.
8. The Classic
My personal favorite is the International Burger Co’s take on the classic burger. It had a special ketchup-based sauce developed in-house and there are no words to describe the comforting feeling of taking a huge bite with my glove-covered hands. I can still remember the taste of the beef patty mixed with caramelized onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and that special sauce.
Even if you consider yourself a veteran burger eater, this classic offering will still surely make you feel like it’s your first time again and again and again.
7. The American
This Texan-inspired and barbecue sauce-laden burger is a cataclysmic experience that effectively combined the taste of cheese, beef, and onion rings. “Usually, when people hear American burgers, they expect bacon. But for us, we think that bacon overpowers the entire balance. And we wanted to make a Texan-inspired balance in this burger,” explains Justin.
6. The Mexican
You cannot take away this burger from me without a boxing fight, for sure! The Mexican burger fused the rich flavor of corn, salsa, beer-braised Mexican pulled pork, and cheddar cheese. Prepare to have a total knockout for your hunger pangs with this one.
5. The French
Magnifique! A growing crowd favorite, this burger perfection is inspired by the Croque Madame of France. Its existence proves that you can never go wrong with an amazing mix of burger patty, sunny side up egg, sweet ham, bechamel sauce, gruyere cheese, and Dijon mustard.
4. The Italian
The marinara sauce, prosciutto, fresh basil, and mozzarella cheese in The Italian can and will satisfy your cravings faster than you can say Buon Giorno. It’s quite hard to fathom how a burger can be transformed to taste like Italian food but they did it successfully with this burger.
3. The Korean
Annyeong-hasseyo! You will have the best of tender bulgogi slices, fresh lettuce, kimchi, and mayonnaise in The Korean. Justin, who oversees the kitchen operations actively, recounts his experience in living and working Korea and how this figured prominently in developing this flavor. Mashitta, indeed!
2. The Japanese
According to the team, this flavor took the longest to concoct among the 8. They took their time, and like the things that take time, it turned out to be the best. The challenge of making a burger turn Japanese was accepted with flair. It is topped with nori strips, shitake mushrooms, Japanese mayonnaise, and special teriyaki sauce. I haven’t seen nori on a burger anywhere else, and it’s surprisingly good.
1. The Filipino
You cannot really consider yourself well-traveled in life and in your tummy if you cannot love your own. This sisig-laden burger also has fresh cucumber and tomatoes. The texture of the sisig vaguely reminds me the texture of spicy tuna, but it is distinctly Pinoy in taste.
Apart from the 8 wonders of the International Burger Co, they also offer rice lovers large servings of Kimchi Fried Rice and Burger Steak.
Interestingly, even the side dishes has its own unique story. The superb Chicken Karaage was inspired by Justin’s trip in Japan. He had a desire to take the Japanese street food experience locally and mastered the crunch and delightful Karaage, making it comparable to the good ones made by Japanese restaurants.
Versatile as their burger menu is, they also offer various options in beverages such as beer, mineral water, soda, and lemonade.
The good news is that they are also planning to open additional branches and offer delivery services in Metro Manila. For now, the single branch in San Juan is worth the drive because it’s the one way you can take your burger-loving tummy to a joyride of sensations. They truly set the bar higher as far as burger experiences are concerned. With International Burger Co’s culinary genius, you can have a different experience in every burger served.
International Burger Co.
Unit 6 Citiplace Bldg. J.Abad Santos St. cor. Lopez Jaena St. Little Baguio, 1500 San Juan del Monte
Monday to Sunday. 5PM to 12AM.