Burgers make me feel sad. There’s always some disconnect between my fantasy and the reality. I don’t even know what it is that I’m missing. Perhaps they just never taste as good as they look. After all, once we strip away the gherkins, tomato, cheese and bacon, it is just mince in a roll.
Burger Meats Bun was one of the restaurants that came close to satisfying my cravings, but now they’ve upped and transformed their Glasgow joint (the Edinburgh branch on Forth Street remains) into a Korean meets Mexican eatery.
They’ve timed it well. Glasgow is at peak burger, chains like Ed’s Easy Diner are moving in, while places like Kimchi Cult are creating the buzz.
Compared to the heavy, salty flavours of red meat and white bread, this Californian-style fusion food seems fresh and healthy. It’s the yin to the burger yang, and if anyone can manage this, it’s Ben Dantzic and James Forrest, formerly of The Peat Inn in Fife.
Their new menu boggles one’s mind with temptations.
From the page of Sharing Street Foods, we skipped the wings and nachos, and went for tacos and tostadas. Our pair of bo spiced chicken and peanut dressing tacos (£4.50) featured soft purple corn hammocks that were each cupping a hamster-sized hunk of crunchy fried chicken. This was topped with a glossy peanut sauce and a pinch of violet coloured kimchi. So satisfying.
The beetroot and soju cured salmon – vaguely alcoholic ribbons of purple-tinted fish – on crisp tostada saucers (£4.50), were like some sort of awakening. The taste buds at the back of my mouth were roused like B-movie mummies from the crypt (then started lurching about, grappling with the other interesting flavours, like citrus mayonnaise).
Aesthetically, the discs of radish and cress made this dish so pretty, that I did a saddo late adopter thing and Instagrammed a photograph of it. Soon I’ll have as many followers as the Kardashian kartel.
"The little vinegary mushrooms popped in the mouth like firecrackers"
The duck confit version (£4.50) was lovely too, with equally prettified shreds of duck, oyster mushroom and a whorl of fruity plum ketchup.
Oh, and we mustn’t forget the pale sticky bao (£4) – a soft steamed bun stuffed with a brick of crispy pork belly, doused in sweet hoisin and spicy sriracha sauce.
For mains, you can choose something from the Make Your Meal section, which involves selecting a burrito, rice or salad, then a meat or veg from options of Indonesian beef (£8.25, our choice), bulgogi pork (£8), bo spiced chicken (£8) or ginger and soy broccoli (£7).
Then go for one of four toppings. We chose pickled shiitake and yuzu crème fraîche, but were tempted by spring onion and ginger ssamjang (a spicy Korean dipping sauce).
The result was a halved burrito that was tightly swaddled, San Francisco style, in foil, with a helping of kimchi on the side.
It was a beast of a thing, packed to the gunnels with rice, shredded gingery beef, black beans and little vinegary mushrooms that popped in the mouth like firecrackers, all moisturised by rivulets of soy and ginger.
My rather incongruous hake course (£13), from the Plates and Bowls section was also great, but I think I’d rather have all the other stuff. It was a fine-dining-esque portion of fish, with a sweet anise spiced potato purée and a very mild “kimchi pepperonata”.
The waiter advised us to order a side, so I had this with purple potatoes topped by a gritty doenjang butter (£4), which was probably more intriguing than it was delicious.
Though there is only a choice of three, the puddings are marvels of creation. Bo bar (£6) was a plank of joy. With eyes half closed, this option resembled a Snickers bar, but that belied its sophistication. The base was made of a crispy and light peanut butter biscuit topped by a nutty caramel, then a “sriracha ganache” of soft dark chocolate with a stealthy chilli hit. Amazing.
The bo pudding (£5) was lighter and featured a rice pudding that was studded with chunks of jasmine tea marinated plum.
I love this place. To avoid racking up excessive train fares, I hope they bring one to Edinburgh soon, because bao and tostadas are the new mince in a bun.
Lunch for two, excluding drinks, £53.75
48a West Regent Street,
(0141 353 6712, www.bokantina.co.uk)