There's this newish hole-in-the-wall, mum-and-pop burger diner thing on Gulou Dong Dajie called Burger Counter and they serve this Reuben sandwich… oh man, they serve this Reuben sandwich… oh man, oh man, oh man. They serve this Reuben Sandwich, I swear you take a bite out of it -- just one bite -- the tiniest nibble even -- and the heavens shatter to the thunderous jubilation of angels, shimmering diamonds rain down from the skies, time implodes into oblivion and the world is enveloped in a cataclysmic orgasm wave that triggers instant and profound sexual climax in every man, woman, and beast on the planet.
I swear, probably almost no exaggeration on that. Check it.
It looks like this.
Burger Counter has been open for about a couple months now, parlaying word-of-mouth success from the neighborhood residents into a tidy business in slinging burgers that toe the line between simple quick fixes and something a little more subtly gourmet. Their deal is that they spice their home-made patties with sea salt and black pepper which imparts to the burgers a certain classy, high-end zing differentiating them from the standard shitty fast food restaurants and the well-meaning but kinda nauseating boutique greasy spoon places. Price-wise, at 38rmb for the standard Bacon Cheeseburger, it's a real quality burger at a real bargain price -- honestly worth it to trek out to try even if you don't live in the neighborhood.
In terms of restaurant logistics, the whole operation is about seven stools at a counter, a very small two-seater table in the shop and a single table for outside -- just a real small, little cafe that serves delicious diner-style foods. Big groups might have trouble being accomodated.
But here's what the Bacon Cheeseburger looks like, paired with a diet coke because I'm obviously training for a marathon.
Super fresh ingredients as well -- fresh buns, no anemic tomatoes, expensive cheese, no short cuts. Burger Counter is run by these two Beijing dudes with a little New York on the mind and a whole lot of earnestness with their food preparation techniques. Which brings us to their main thing, the star of the menu, their Classic Reuben. They go out and get the meat themselves from wherever it is people go to get meat from. They marinate it themselves however it is people do that. For fourteen days. Two weeks marination process. Then they set it aside for another two days to just hang, and then finally it's ready to be used in the Reuben.
This meat's been around. It knows things.
And here's the thing. Because of the involved process in getting the main ingredient ready, you have to PRE-ORDER THIS MOTHER LIKE DAYS IN ADVANCE. THAT'S HOW SERIOUS THIS IS.
So yeah. You drop in to place your order for the "Classic Reuben" and sometimes it will be ready the next day, sometimes two days. Of course, sometimes you get lucky and that's the day they have it but its kinda more fun to have to order it in advance and just think about it for a while. It takes over your life. The Reuben is all you can think about and you're just counting down the minutes.
"Hey, you just got engaged, wow, that's real nice, but man check this out: I've got this Reuben sandwich on layaway and I'm picking it up in 36 hours."
"Dude, your dad died, that terrible. Wait, shut up a minute, I only have like 8 hours left to wait for my Reuben."
And then here it is.
The meat on this thing just melts as soon as it hits your tongue. It tastes like a unicorn marinated in crack cocaine. It tastes like eating wizard magic marinated in your fondest childhood memories. It tastes like The Shawshank Redemption making love to the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings.
It tastes like… okay, yeah, it's just a sandwich but I'm telling you it's a good fucking sandwich.
Fries are pretty good too -- although maybe the portion on those is a little small, me thinks -- but they're good as well because they use that sea salt on these too. Gives them a classic potato chip kind of taste. For pairing with the Reuben, they've got a few standard beers and few craft beers, some just so-so lemonade -- some really delicious homemade ginseng-infused green tea actually -- but I usually like to pair the Reuben with…
A SNEAKY SECOND CLASSIC REUBEN, MY FRIEND, BOHHHH SHHHHIT.
Burger Counter is at 271 Gulou Dong Dajie, just east of the Drum Tower and south of Mao Livehouse on that side of the street. Full listing, map and taxi-printout here.