Opening a burger joint in these burger-centric times would seem to give a whole new definition to the metaphor “carrying coals to Newcastle.” That fact notwithstanding, a new contender has emerged, coming to the Big Apple by way of Beijing. Its name is Uncle Sam’s, and its flagship U.S. location opens its doors today, May 18, a block away from the Empire State Building on Fifth Avenue.
Naturally, to make a go of it against such heady competition as Shake Shack, 5 Napkin, and one-hit wonders such as Corner Bistro, a burger chef needs to have a little culinary magic working for him. Uncle Sam’s rises to the challenge, first by using Pat LaFrieda’s mythical burger blend, and second by adding an Asian twist to the sandwiches.
Think Uncle Sam’s Signature Burger — adorned with sautéed mushrooms, oyster sauce, and Swiss cheese — or the K-Town Burger, done with Galbi beef, kimchi, and fermented bean sauce. Not all burgers are beef. The centerpiece of the 888 Burger is a shumai patty, rounded out with Canadian bacon, char-siu bacon, and sriracha mayo.
Uncle Sam’s also does a terrific chicken “samwich,” and I say that is someone who is not a fan of fried chicken sandwiches. The slabs of breast are coated in large panko and fried in hot enough oil to keep the grease in the deep fryer rather than on the bun. I am partial to the So-Cal version, which features mashed avocado, pickled jalapenos, and alfalfa spouts.
Don’t miss the loaded tater tots, blanketed in melted cheese and discs of scallion.
Burgers range in price from a single (at $4.95) to the BBQ Burger, boasting a patty formed of pork and shrimp ($13.95), Chicken Samwiches are $8.95
Uncle Sam’s is located at 307 Fifth Avenue at 32nd St., New York, N.Y., 212-213-3938.