New Restaurant Alert: International Burger Co. at Jose Abad Santos Street, San Juan
These burgers will take you on a world tour.
International Burger Co.
Unit 6, Citiplace Building, Jose Abad Santos Street, San Juan City
Contact: 0917-621-1263; 0995-489-5644
Open daily from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.
(SPOT.ph) Choosing to sell burgers felt like an obvious choice to Justin Tee, general manager of International Burger Co. He and his partners, Kevin Tañedo and Kevin Te, believe that burgers have become something of a staple dish for Filipinos. "They're definitely not a fad, they're here to stay," says Justin.
The trio merges this thinking with their love for travel. International Burger Co., which opened in April, carries seven burgers that follow culinary traditions from around the globe. “We came up with a concept that’s organized and straightforward,” Justin says. “Customers will just have to think, ‘Where do I want to go today?’ and we’ll take them there through burgers.”
Cool paper planes
“We go back to basics for each one. We really want diners to immediately recognize each country’s specialties with just a bite,” Justin explains.
International Burger Co. reworks a country's iconic flavor into burgers. A traditional margherita pizza, for example, warps into the Italian (P280). Like the other burgers on the menu, this hefty bundle contains a quarter-pound, pure-beef patty that they grind in-house every day. The slab is embellished with marinara sauce (made from scratch!), a generous layer of prosciutto, and a blanket of Parmesan cheese. Sweet, salty, and tart notes come together all at once, blanketed by a soft, buttery bun crafted specially to the owners’ specifications.
The French (P280), meanwhile, is already proving to be an early favorite. The clever folks behind International Burger Co. understand how well Pinoys respond to breakfast and brunch, so they took this route when they designed the France-themed burger. The signature patty is slathered with a layer of creamy béchamel sauce and Dijon mustard, then finished off with the essentials: Gruyere cheese, ham, and a sunny side-up egg. How's that for a Croque Madame?
They go all out for the American (P280), the home of the burger. This one is more than a flavor—it's like attending an actual barbecue. At the center, the patty is doused in a sweet, tangy sauce that reminds us of lip-smacking baby back ribs. It comes with crispy onion rings and a helping of cheddar cheese. Another bold take is the Mexican (P280). The spotlight shifts towards the special beer-braised pulled pork that lends a zesty aftertaste to the whole ensemble. It's a delightful contrast to the salsa and cilantro garlic dressing.
For something closer to home, find comfort in the Asian offerings. Justin's specialty is the Korean (P280), which is composed of fresh lettuce, tender bulgogi slices, and large chunks of kimchi; a tail end of sweet and spicy notes linger on your taste buds. The Japanese (P280) takes a sweeter detour, thanks to the teriyaki sauce. The flavor is tempered by strips of earthy nori and a smear of Japanese mayonnaise.
Of course, the Filipino (P280) plays up the best of the local cuisine. “We just had to go with sisig for this one,” Justin says. “There’s nothing more Filipino now than sisig.” The heavy flavors of the pork belly bits are offset by fresh cucumber and tomatoes.
If the choices are too overwhelming, Justin recommends the Classic (P280) as a jumping-off point. “This option is for first-time customers since it highlights our [strong suit]: the patty,” he explains. “Hopefully, once they’ve tried it and decide to come back, they’ll be more adventurous and would want to try the other flavors.” Customers can pair their burgers with a side of either Onion Strings or Twister Fries (P80/à la carte).
Kimchi Fried Rice
To cater to a wider range of palates, International Burger Co. also has a suite of appetizers and rice toppings. Take your pick from Fish Poppers (P250), bite-sized beer battered fish fillets paired with tartar sauce; Chicken Karaage (P220), boneless chicken bits marinated in soy ginger sauce; Burger Steak (P250), a beef patty coated in a rich mushroom gravy; or the Kimchi Fried Rice (P250), a spicy bed of rice served with grilled bulgogi and fried egg.
“Our flavors are simple and direct,” says Justin. “If diners are able to recognize and appreciate the inspirations behind each dish, then I feel like I’ve done my job. I’ve taken them where they want to go.”
Photos by Hans Fausto