K440 Reviews ‘Mike’s Burger House’

K440 dispatched Jeff Mudrick, creator of Phnom Penh’s best known gourmet burger, to ‘Mike’s’ to review Phnom Penh’s best known generic burger.

Dedication

The conversation with the editor of this fine journal went something like this:

K440: “You know hamburgers. Do a review of Mike’s, ok?”
Me: “Well, I sell burgers; people will perceive a conflict of interest.”
K440: “Just four or five hundred words. You can figure it out. Thanks.”
Me: “Hmmm. Well ok, I’ll do that. Thank you Peter”.

Preface

How many times do you encounter someone who says the equivalent of “Bob’s: best Mexican food in Eastern Lithuania. ‘Nuff said.” Whether the “’nuff said” is explicit or implied is immaterial; the statement itself raises so many issues that, for me anyway, unless the statement appears in the context of a detailed review, I reject such proclamations as meaningless straight away.

Introduction

The hamburger, to focus on the subject at hand is many things to many people. Here are my two favorite hamburgers (notice I’m not saying best):

First, the In-N-Out Burger:

Second, the Father’s Office Burger:

Is one better than the other? They have so little in common other than tasting great that I can’t say. They both get five stars. And that’s why I have no problem offering my thoughts on Mike’s burger.

Review

I went to Mike’s for the first time just a couple months after he started to get some buzz about this burger. I went with a fellow publican, also an American with some burgering credentials. We bit into the burger and evaluated the feel and flavors, we took it apart and tasted just the meat on its own. We came to the joint conclusion that while it was a pretty good burger experience because of the fresh lettuce, tomato and nice bun, it was overrated, especially the meat which was all but tasteless. It was a good burger because it was brilliantly packaged more than anything else.

I went back to Mike’s this week. Either the burger has gotten better, his quality control has improved or I just got lucky because this time the burger was a winner all around. The packaging isn’t quite as neat as it was, the leaves of iceberg formerly were torn to just fit the bun, now they were all flying all over the place. Indeed the whole burger (mine was the double-cheese burger) was a bit of a mess, cheese a-drippin’, lettuce and grilled onions a-fallin’, the bun coming apart around kilometer 6 of this 10k burger run.

This, in my mind, is not particularly a problem because it tasted great. While the patty was well done as all fast food burgers are by definition, and formed in a mold rather than by hand, it had some real flavor to it. Which if you know anything about the effects of compression and high temperature on ground beef flavor is a pretty damn good trick. Kudos to Mike for pulling that off.

Truth is, I devoured the burger like there was no tomorrow and that pretty much sums up how I feel now about Mike’s. In her article on Mike’s for my favorite food journal Serious Eats, the reviewer ends appropriately with the question, “would we be regulars at Mike’s if it was down the street from any of our non-expat lives”. Her answer was “absolutely” and I concur.

Jeff Mudrick

Mike’s Burger House
Sokimex Station, Russian Blvd, Phnom Penh
Opening Hours
10am – 10pm

10 thoughts on “K440 Reviews ‘Mike’s Burger House’

  1. gavinmac Reply

    I had a Mike’s burger at one of those Kingdom Brewery tap room events and it was quite good.

  2. OD Reply

    It’s one of our favorite stop offs. a) it’s close to us [living out in the boonies and all], b) it has mtn. dew [just what i needed to discover after my recent round of kidneys stones], and c) it’s good. not garage burger good… but like you say, that would be comparing apples and oranges. or in this case cardiac arrest and ulcers.

    It’s also fun to see some of the random weird stuff he imports from America, and sometimes explain things to the wife she’s never heard of/seen. Recently it was Pepto-Bismol (in industrial sized portions… and a 2 pack at that) they acquired a case of.

    Fun stuff… and good review!

  3. mannacambodia Reply

    The hygiene is the most imported reason why I visit Mike about every day. Customer can wash their hands with soap anytime they like.
    And when you enter the place you get greeted, with a smile. That unfortunately can not be said from some who appear to serve better burgers then Mike. If you read this Mike good luck to you. In Saigon now so thats why you wont see me for some more days.

  4. John Reply

    A friend walked all the way to mikes to sample his famous burgers and was not impressed.

  5. BurgerBoss Reply

    The burgers, as JM said, are quite tasty, but those pictures don’t do it any justice! Curious…

    I usually wolf down a double cheese volcano, and occasionally swallow an L-D burger (the mega sized burger for $10.75), but I’m the exception, you know, haha…

    I don’t know any burger joint with over-sized burgers, decent fries, and A&W root beer. Also has juice packs, American candies and even an industrial sized canister of real, California-style jalapeño’s!

    The chicken quesadillas are decent, and he has non-stop unquenchable fountain soft drinks for only $1.50!! That’s a lot of sugar for you guys!

    It has parking for cars, and has the posters of the International Herald Tribune and the other newspapers with Mike’s pictures prominently displaying his life story surviving the Khmer Rouge, decades with the US Postal Service, and finally his emergence as a real-time authentic American burger joint for families. (It does also serve somewhat gourmet beers in bottles, for a decent price). And you can fill’er up at the gas station too!

    Bottom line: bring your car and your family for a taste of America, in Cambodia!

  6. Mike Reply

    Tasteless, mushy, processed meat + tasteless lettuce and tomato + doughy bun = successful burger joint in Cambodia

  7. Stewie Reply

    I’ve eaten there a few times, and honestly, while the packaging is good, the marketing is good, the milkshake makes you feel like you’re in a Red Robin for a second, then when you eat the burger that all fades away. The burger is decent, the bun is good, the veggies are refreshing, the meat patty is what gets me each time. It’s not tasty and I will call it overrated to be honest.

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