On my second visit to Kua 'Aina in a week I fared much better than I did on my first when I had a 1/3lb Cheeseburger that was overcooked and, consequentially, not-at-all-juicy. This time I opted for the plumper of the patty options and asked for the half pound Cheeseburger to be cooked medium rare...
And I "ate in" this time too. It's not so much a restaurant that you go for a meal at so much as a burger shack you park your butt in while you wolf down a big fat juicy burger. Which is, of course, a lunchbreak-dream-come-true kind of burger vendor.
So this is how m'burger looked when it arrived, served in one of those little plastic "baskets" that are designed specifically to serve burgers like this in. Perfect. I took the top off, removed one of two slices of tomato (no burger needs two slices of tomato) and took a bite. This time the patty WAS juicy, as well as being perfectly seasoned and delightfully beefy in flavour. In fact, it was so damn juicy that on the first greedy bite, juice ran down this burger detective's chin. Score!
However the second bite revealed something not quite so pleasing: the remaining thick slice of beefsteak tomato was fresh out of a very cold fridge. Not ideal in my book. Even less ideal in my burger. As with my last KA burger, the cross-section of grilled onion avoided slimy-worm syndrome admirably but I found myself questioning its inclusion (along with limp lettuce) in a burger. I'm not sure it brings enough to the party.
What I'm really getting to is that, while the beef patty this time round was really super delicious, the Kua 'Aina burger is one you have to basically fuck around with before you can enjoy it: First you've got to remove the superfluous second slice of tomato – or all of it if its noticably colder than 5 degrees C. Then there's the lettuce which might need tidying up or simply removing altogether. And once you've started this cull of extras, you start to question the validity of the grilled onion too. After a few bites, you'll probably remove it as it's more annoying than it is worthy of inclusion with the tasty patty.
I guess the point to make here is one I've made a few times before: a burger is a dish, a recipe. There needs to be a concept that gives every ingredient a reason for being there. Yes, if you happen to remember to order your KA burger to be cooked medium rare, then you're likely to get a tasty and juicy burger, but the cheese is unlikely to be perfectly melted into the surface of the burger - and you will undoubtedly need to arse about with the extras before eating it.
Don't get me wrong, Kua 'Aina IS def worth a visit if you're in the area – not least because the fries and the Sweet Potato Wedges (above) are totally amazeballs. Just remember that if you want your burger cooked on the rare, juicy side of medium - make sure you mention that when you place your order.
26 Foubert's Place
London W1F 7PP
Tel: 020 7287 7474