Mission Burger (by Mission Street Food)
inside Duc Loi Supermarket
2200 Mission St (between 18th St & 19th St)
San Francisco, CA 94110
Food and cooking knowledge can come from a variety of sources. Being a detail-oriented person, I really enjoy shows that explain why, not just what. Aside from Alton Brown, who has really started turning me off with his over the top corny humour, one show that I really enjoy is the BBC classic “In Search of Perfection” with Michelin 3 star chef Heston Blumenthal from the Fat Duck. He really caught my attention with his episode on steak (it really works btw), and I’ve enjoyed the knowledge, and the hilarity of his exploits.
In his cookbook Further Adventures In Search of Perfection, Heston Blumenthal reinvents the burger to deliver what he feels is the perfect burger. While in principal, his ideas are fantastic, in practice, they are often so time consuming, and difficult to source the ingredients, that it just isn’t feasible for us “normal” people. I remember duplicating his steak recipe, and the total time required before i could put fork to mouth was almost 48 hours. His burger recipe, as tested by the dedicated hamburger folks at aht (serious eats), took over 30 hours. For a hamburger.
Enter Mission Burger, brought to you by Mission Street Food – a not for profit organization that donates their proceeds to charity. In the entire lunch counter revival I was discussing in the Villa Mexico post, they’ve set up a burger counter inside the Duc Loi Supermarket in the Mission.
There are a few very notable things about Mission Burger.
First off, they donate to the San Francisco Food Bank for every burger sold. Second, their hours are a very narrow window – noon till 3pm, if they don’t sell out before, on every day except Thursday.
Thirdly, they are located inside an Asian Supermarket, that carries a wide range of hispanic products. An odd place for a burger counter. Inside the Duc Loi supermarket, they’ve taken up a small part of the deli counter just behind the checkout counters.
Fourth, they are very affordable.
But what makes this burger, and Mission Burger so unique? The fact that they are using the aforementioned recipe from Heston Blumenthal. Not verbatim, but they utilize the same principles for creating their burger. A 30 hour shortcut, so to speak. Count me in for some of that action.
The key to the burger is said to be the combination of 3 cuts of meat, to provide the right texture, flavour, and consistency. Mission Burger calls this “Granulation”.
Using quality accoutrements like local Acme bread, Mission Burger combines brisket, short rib, and chuck together to make a substantial 1/3 pound patty of beefy goodness. The recipe calls for 30 day dry aged short rib, but that seems a bit excessive. They use product from Harris ranch, California’s “little name” applied to “industrial feed lot” operation. It’s fairly average stuff, with “questionable” sustainability practices, but it’s better than a lot of industrial beef. And i guess that’s why it’s affordable.
They cut the tops off the bun to ensure even browning on both sides. A really nice touch.
When put together with Monterey Jack, caramelized onions, and caper aioli, what you end up with is one very fine looking burger. Especially when the patty has been seared on the flat top in beef fat.
Four bites in and I have to say, Heston is definitely onto something. The burger is moist and juicy, but with an uncharacteristic meaty quality to it. It tastes more like little chunks of steak than vaporized beef compressed into a patty. It has the perfect density blend for a burger. The flavour is beef, the texture is phenomenal, and the forecast calls for juices and fat dripping on your shirt. Look out below!
Of course, the cheese adds some very nice texture, the caramelized onions a really rich, bright flavour to the burger. The aioli is a bit too liberally applied for my liking, and the capers don’t really provide any counterpoint to the greasiness of the burger, but these are quibbles. Very small quibbles on what is an awesome burger. Yes. I said it. “Awesome”. Like Guy Fieri. I can’t believe i just said that.
I tried a nibble of the fries, and they were decent. Certainly not rave worthy as the two girls in front of us believed. A lot like In N Out fries, but cooked a bit better and crispier.
The best accompaniment to the burger is actually the mint lemonade they have there. Like a virgin Caipirinha, the acidity, and the freshness of the mint help cut the greasy and refresh the palate. It’s fantastic.
Addendum: as suggested by reader rod, i really was amiss not to mention that one problem with the Duc Loi location is that there is essentially no seating there. One bench and a couple of chairs, with one very small end table to squat around. This is definitely not an eat in place, but pretty much strictly for take out.
Mission Burger. Feeding the homeless. Putting Heston Blumenthal’s work into practice. Serving up “awesome”, affordable burgers up in the heart of the mission. I love finds like these. Don’t miss it – it’s a must try for any burger fan.