Believe it or not, this chinger is vegetarian.
The idea was popularized by Momofuku Ssam Bar and by Xi’an Famous Foods–sandwiches featuring lamb or pork in a steamed or baked bao with pickled vegetables and a thick, sweet soy sauce. The idea might have occurred spontaneously in several places, because Taiwanese do something similar. Now, a new Taiwanese restaurant called Chinger–an offshoot of a next-door hot-pot place–is debuting a bao burger joint in the shadow of Elmhurst’s LIRR tracks.
The facade hints of the Big Concept inside.
Instead of steamed bao, though, the fast-food sandwiches used baked bao, which are then toasted and split. Truth be told, they’re a bit dry, and a little too much like English muffins. Still, the “burgers,” which consist of spice-rubbed strips of beef or pork, are pretty tasty, and pleasantly novel, too. There’s also a veggie version that features matchsticks of moist brown gluten in gravy, along with pickled daikon, rubbery kelp, and shredded Napa cabbage.
There’s a separate ramen menu, as well, priced from $5.50 to $6.99, featuring the three most common broths (pig foot, soy, and miso), and a choice of either ramen or udon. The Japanese probably wouldn’t approve the udon option.
The very flavorful cumin beef chinger, with added green chiles
The chinger half of the menu (the rest is ramen).
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 7, 2013