The prime Angus sirloin burger at Burger & Beer Joint is really, really good, with a nice ribbon of fatty marbling throughout the beefy patty. I prefer to make my own version (although it is hard to walk away from anything titled "Stairway to Heaven"), topping it with Maytag blue cheese and thick-cut smokehouse bacon and then slathering on an embarrassing amount of truffle aioli on my fluffy brioche bun. Every now and then, I add red onion marmalade for a special touch of patty divinity.
With all of those flavors competing against each other, I've perpetually assumed the up-charge for American Wagyu just isn't worth it. The burger is excellent in its entirety because each component both complements and slightly overwhelms the others. So in one bite, you have juicy meat, a little smoky bacon, pungent cheese, unctuously creamy truffle mayonnaise... but it drowns out the flavor of the beef. Or does it?
Even though I've always been intensely satisfied, human beings are naturally curious creatures. Thus my eyes often wander on the menu -- from the Prime Angus beef for $9 to the American Wagyu for $12. Is that extra $3 really necessary for burger bliss? Could it possibly taste better than it already does? It's probably just a way of adding margin to the restaurant's bottom line, right?
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So the question remained: Is the Wagyu beef patty an overrated eat?
And here come those three little words everyone loves to hear: I was wrong. The Wagyu embodies both a flavor and textural difference you can taste immediately. The grind seems more tightly packed, as if the meat condenses during the cooking process. There's a slight oily silkiness on the tongue that imparts a completely different taste sensation than the sirloin. The meat is more flavorful, with a richness that pops rather than dominates the burger toppings. It's way past yummy, sliding into first place without even a glance back at the finish line.
All right, take my damn money. That's $3 definitely worth spending.