Yen Burger (Japanese) – Southwark, LondonAdvertisement
Yen Burger is a relatively new Japanese burger bar, which opened in October last year, and is situated just around the corner to Borough market – London’s oldest food market that’s been “serving the people of Southwark for 1,000 years”.
The 78-cover restaurant is named after female food entrepreneur Yen Nguyen, who has said: “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 opening of Yen burger is my dream coming to fruition and I am so excited to start welcoming guests into the restaurant.”
Seating is split across two floors, with 58 located downstairs in a light and airy basement which, while providing a few elegant touches of Japanese decor that includes the classical shoji shutters, is dominated by a large instagrammable wall mural depicting a doe-eyed young woman with ultra-long, wavy, licorice-locks blowing in the breeze.
Although there’s only seating for 12 upstairs, both the toilets and their alcohol bar are to be found downstairs, with the latter conveniently separated from the eating area.
Note that there is a 10.5% discretionary service charge added to the final bill.
While the Passion Sprizz didn’t quite do justice to the strength of passionfruit we’re all familiar with, the Fresh Kumquat was quite the opposite, with its tantalising burst of minty-citrus immediately grabbing our attention, before managing to remain that way, in spite of the quantity of ice, for a good while thereafter.
If you enjoy your coconut, then you’ll enjoy the smooth and elegant Coco De Guava. Sadly for one Lion, who’s not much of a coconut guy, the subtlety of guava and lime wasn’t enough to balance things out.
As for the thick and lusciously good milkshake, then although the green tea was discernible to begin with, it was quickly taken over by the strength of the vanilla ice cream.
All our beef burgers are freshly minced and cooked to Medium unless otherwise requested. Gluten-friendly and Vegan options are available.
First things first, the steamed buns used were outstandingly good, being light and airy, but firm enough to play their respective sandwiching roles perfectly well.
As for their signature Yen Burger, then we were left disappointed. Call it anticipointment; call it what you will, but when you’re promised a 6oz “100% wagyu beef patty” (we were told that this was, depending on the supplier, A2-A3 graded Australian wagyu), you’ll invariably be hoping for nothing less than the mouthwatering taste of sweet umami beef, which only 100% wagyu beef can deliver.
Alas, all three of us determined in this case that the patty, despite being juicy, succulent and well textured, was not only decidely underseasoned, but further exposed by the subtlety of the burgers other condiments, which managed to impart a gentle tangy undertone and not much more. A real pity!RECOMMENDED
Biting into its exceptionally good coconut panko chicken breast was an absolute delight. With a crispy light batter punctuated by moments of crunchiness, this was glisteningly juicy and tender on the inside.
Couple that with the balance achieved between the sweet mango sauce and slightly tart slaw, and as one Lion put it, “I could bite through that all day!”
Given how well its 6oz Aberdeen Angus beef patty was seasoned, we were left bemused by what could have been vis-à-vis the aforementioned underseasoned Wagyu beef patty.
In any case, this juicy patty was thick and rustic in nature (almost akin to a smashed burger actually), and was enhanced by the addition of the sweet chilli and citrus sauce which married well against the kick of heat imparted by the delicious marinated prawns.
A relatively simple burger that was attractively layered; but, more importantly, well executed.RECOMMENDED
Yup; on first impressions, we weren’t expecting much from this either. But, this turned out to be the surprise package of all the burgers had.
What made this our second choice, was the balance achieved between the combination of a nicely charred and earthy Portobello mushroom topped with a delicately-made, crispy-cum-buttery panko avocado patty, and the piquant edge delivered by the blue cheese and the lime mayo.
A thick slice of tomato and plenty of red onions brought the entire thing together by adding notes of sweetness here and there.
This All Veggie has been one of the best veggie burgers we’ve thus far had this year.
As such, The Cod turned out to be a winner, particularly when grilled this well.
Flaking apart at the merest glance, this could have hit those really high notes had the tartar sauce been slightly more tart and tangy.Advertisement Advertisement
Despite one Lion not enjoying the addition of the red onions, this was a good burger.
Consequently, not only was the patty not as flavourful as the Surf n’ Turf, though better than the Wagyu, it didn’t have very much else that caught our collective attention either.
Despite its name, the alleged spices in this Spice Burger only ever really materialised towards the end when all was said and done.
Easily the weakest of Yen’s burgers, this was purposeless, with the thick slab of tofu being positively bland.
As for the blanket of cheese melted over the top, then this, along with whatever else was added, failed to rescue this forgetful first try.
SIDES & SAUCES
These Sweet Potato Chips turned out to be bang on the Yen! Crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the in, these have to be some of the best we’ve ever had! An absolute triumph and dangerously addictive. You’ve been warned!
The Gyozo certainly split the crowd. With a crispy exterior and a moist minced chicken interior, this was considered by one Lion to be fairly flavourous, and made better by the salty sauce; but failed to impress the other, who thought it underspiced and undercooked! As we said, it split the crowd.
Happy Wings indeed! These deliciously good wings were of exceptional quality, with the flavour of the chicken itself, in spite of their size, strong and true.
With a crispy-cum-chewy exterior, they were thoroughly glazed in a mango sauce with a touch of heat to it. Just be sure to give these a good mix before diving right in.
Not quite with these Halloumi & Mango slices! Accompanied by a mango sauce, the halloumi themselves, while being relatively crispy on the outside, not only turned out fairly oily, but were also rubbery too (as they can be if over done). Not very appetising!
No questioning these Dashi Chips though. Fried to a nice golden colour, these crispy fries were seasoned with a spice that added a touch of heat. Superb!
Your standard salad really; nothing more nothing less!
Warm Edamame with sea salt. Can’t go wrong can you?
We’ve had sauces and we’ve had sauces, but Yen Burger’s are some of the best we’ve had in quite some time. All inhouse made, with each one worth the £1.00 price tag.
Of the six, we were all unanimous that the Mango pipped Teriyaki to the post, though only just. If we had to pick the weakest of the bunch, then sadly it would have to be the Yen sauce which, given the stiff competition, just paled in significance.
SWEETS & TREATS
Of the four we had the pleasure of trying, the smartly presented Exotic Cake is our recommended dessert.
What made this such a tasty treat, was not just its tart and fruity flavours, but also its contrasting textures.
Resting atop a light and spongy, saturated biscuit base was this soft and pulpous mango dome encasing that contained a delightfully tangy red fruit torte.
With everything balancing out really well, we couldn’t get enough of this.
In terms of its texture, this Yuzu & Matcha Cake, which erred a tad towards the dry, was almost there.
Nonetheless, the passionfruit came through well enough, with a hint of the mango in the background perhaps, making this a decent one.
With a thin coating of jelly on the outside, these dainty Mochi Ice Cream balls turned out to be a good assortment to nibble on.
The mango for us was the most interesting, with the matcha being slightly more icier than the rest.
An intriguing dessert where, in place of pastry, we had a pair of fried and caramelised bananas wrapped in crispy wonton, sprinkled with cinnamon, drizzled in chocolate sauce, and served with two smooth scoops of ice cream.
No sure why it was called Banana in Pyjama, but if you’re fancying that contrast of hot and cold in your dessert, then this is the one.
To finish off the evening though, be sure to order a glass of their lemon tea. A perfect tonic to any Japanese-inspired menu.
- YES/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
They offer an impressive range of burgers which, in terms of their size, fit somewhere in between the many gourmet burgers we're all used to by now and the increasingly popular sliders.
While their steamed buns are quite superb, the selection we tried turned out to be a hit and miss affair. Our biggest disappointment was their signature Wagyu. Perhaps yours might turn out better, but ours was underseasoned and, thus, failed to pack that umami punch one would hope for from such a breed of beef (in this case A2/A3 Australian sourced). Their chicken panko, on the other hand, was exceptionally good.
All in all though, and given their uniqueness, Yen Burger is certainly worth visiting, especially with the exclusive 20% discount we've secured for our readers.
Be advised, however, that a 10.5% discretionary service charge is added to the final bill.
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