If you know me, you know that I’m a pretty big fan of the Vietnamese noodle soup called “Pho” (pronounced “fuh”). I learned a lot about the soup when I was in Vietnam a few years ago, where I tasted the best beef pho of my life! My no. 1 pho place in Toronto is called Pho Linh – but I’ll save that story for another day.
Today’s post is all about the PHO BURGER (!!!!) I ate at Dac Biet Burger near Church and Dundas streets in Toronto.
Dac Biet. Dac Biet. I can’t get enough of this name. I love saying it over and over. I’ve passed this unassuming burger shop for months (over a year?) thinking “pho burger? wut?” and then later “pho burger? hmm” and for the past few months it’s been more like “pho burger. ahhh, gimme dac biet!”. Anyway. About the name: you may have seen “dac biet” written on or in Vietnamese restaurants around the city. It’s often part of the dish name, or the restaurant name; it’s a ubiquitous Vietnamese phrase, but what does it mean?
According to Dac Biet Burger’s website:
It’s a Vietnamese word. adj. unusual; special, awesome. Example: My mama always says I’m dac biet.
Now on to the burger. Dac Biet Burger does a bunch of fun fusion-y burgs, like a Bahn Mi burger, a Kalbi burger, a Teriyaki burger. They all sound pretty amazing. But I came for one thing, and one thing only. *Drum roll please…
The signature Pho Burger: ~$10 for a combo, including tax (the 4oz. burger sells for $6.75 alone)
Despite the sketchy exterior, Dac Biet Burger takes their food seriously. All of their beef is ground in-house daily, so it’s super fresh. They make all of the accoutrements from scratch too, and their burgers take about 10 mins to prepare. I ordered the 4oz. burg which came nicely charred, straight off the flat top. The patty is not too thick – this burger is as much about the toppings as it is about the beef. Speaking of toppings, we’ve got sriracha, hoisin sauce, sauteed bean sprouts, thai basil and lime juice. There’s a lot going on! Plus, they serve it with a small container of pho “jus” – aka soup – for dipping.
It really does taste like pho, it’s pretty awesome. The beef is flavourful but not fatty or greasy. The bean sprouts give an awesome crunchy texture and the basil is deliciously fragrant. In each bite you can taste a little bit of heat from the sriracha, a little bit of sweet from the hoisin, some beefy umami from the patty, and the herbacious basil. Everything works in harmony, just like the dish of pho itself. It’s savoury and intense but also fresh and light somehow! I would also like to commend the bun (care of Ace Bakery), the unsung hero, for tying everything together. The fries were okay, nothing special but nothing bad about them. Strangely, the classic duo of burgers and fries doesn’t really work here, I felt. I guess it’s because the pho burger is SO different from your traditional burger. It’s really a whole nother beast. I would recommend eating the burger on its own for maximum enjoyment.
Half-way through my pho burger. Other half was gone moments after this photo was taken…
Check out Dac Biet Burger at 213 Church Street in Toronto. Not your average burger but really a genius creation. I’ll be back to try the Banh Mi pork burger next time!