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Shiso Burger – the Featherweight Champion of Berlin Burgers

By Andrew Cottrill . April 10, 2014

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Do you know that feeling after finishing a meal of burger and fries where you can’t think let alone move and sit just there sweating, being so full of food and regret? Shiso Burger customers don’t.

This cute little Korean/American fusion restaurant on North Mitte’s Auguststrasse has managed to create what could be the perfect lunchtime burger. It’s dainty, exciting, tasty and light. Mitte’s young, beautiful and successful set certainly agree, as they pack the restaurant during the lunchtime rush to put something good into their bodies that isn’t going to make them need a mid-afternoon nap.

Our ‘beef burgers only’ rule is unkind to Shiso Burger. Being a Korean burger place, some of their menu’s most exciting burgers are Asian influenced seafood and vegetarian burgers. In fact, their ‘house’ burger (the Shiso Burger) contains a marinated tuna steak and, among other things, the joint’s namesake, the shiso leaf. Unfortunately we’ll have to come back to sample these delights. We ordered the Cheese Burger and the Chili Lemon Burger, which comes with a lime mayonnaise.

With the kitchen situated in the centre of the restaurant you can watch your burgers being prepared. The first striking thing you notice is the black sesame seeds on top the puffy burger buns as the chef cuts them in half. A pet hate of ours is dry, badly toasted buns and that crumble when you try to pick the burger up and the pervasive burnt flavour which spoils every bite. At Shiso, you see the chef expertly spritzing the burger buns with a water bottle as they toast, ensuring they remain fluffy and moist.

Shiso Burger
Served in a bamboo steamer basket, these burgers look exceptional. Plump and round, you can tell the buns are wonderfully soft before you even touch them. The salad is the greenest of the green, the tomato redder than North Korea – all colours contrasting against the black sesame seeds atop the bun. Shiso burgers look like a stylised anime caricature of a burger, an instagramer’s Holy Grail. Looking at one, you feel guilty for being hungry – otherwise you’d have no reason to destroy such beauty.

Taking the burger in your hands, you find it’s perfectly well-balanced. Speaking of the Golden Ratio of bun, meat and fillings that makes up the perfect burger, Shiso’s burgers come very close. You can raise them to your mouth without the threat of imminent collapse you get with many burgers, and needing a knife or fork is a thought that never crosses your mind. The texture of the burger is great. The bun is springy and light. The patty is great quality meat and has a strong, beefy flavour without being too greasy. Each topping works well and deserves its place in the burger. The homemade fries are great too and come in both normal and sweet potato varieties (although we’d recommend the “2wisted Potatoes” which are tornado potatoes seasoned with Shiso’s own seasoning).

Shiso burger’s greatest achievement: how you feel afterwards. Normally, after finishing the burger, we share a few minutes of quiet contemplation and scrawl a few notes on a grease-stained note pad before going our separate ways for a much needed rest. Once we’d finished eating at Shiso, however, we felt energised and went back out onto the busy streets of Mitte full of piss and vinegar, ready to continue our days. This isn’t to say the burgers are small. They’re just light, satisfying, and trick you into thinking you’ve eaten something healthy.

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Shiso Burger: Fo Shiso Ma Niso! (which we assume is Korean for “Great Burger”)

BLY’s top tips for eating at Shiso Burger

  • Go for the meal deal option which means you can get a burger, fries and a drink for under €10.
  • Try the 2wisted Potatoes.
  • Their coleslaw is light and refreshing with a subtle coconutty hint (although eating coleslaw with a set of chopsticks is a bit like trying to catch a dream with a net).
  • Beat the lunchtime rush by getting there around noon. It may be better to book a table in evenings.

The verdict

Andy says: “A cute, busy place that’s reasonably priced and has excellent, friendly service. The menu offers something different to the Berlin Burger scene and I’m looking forward to eating my way through it. A great lunchtime burger that feels healthy, although sometimes I miss that gluttonous feeling of an impending burger-induced heart attack.”

Phil says: “Shiso is the perfect ‘Burger für Zwischendurch’. It’s light, tastes great and won’t fill you up too much. If you have that burger craving but don’t want to sin too much, Shiso is gives you the perfect beef burger experience without making you feel guilty afterwards.”

Berlin Loves You Rating: 8/10

This review is part of our series on Berlin’s best burger joints. Read our opinion on what makes a good burger.

Shiso Burger
Auguststrasse 29C
10119 Berlin 12pm-12am
www.shisoburger.de

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