After spending a glorious week in Charleston, it was difficult to spend time in Charlotte. Charlotte feels (sorry Charlotte) charmless. The highlight of my trip there was NOM NOM Burger. I had no expectations when I walked in. In fact, I wanted to go to a different restaurant, but it was closed, so it was merely by accident that I walked in.
NOM NOM Burger is located in a strip mall (as many restaurants in Charlotte are). It has an outdoor area next to a fountain where families with kids were playing. The place started to feel charming. It was a bit sunny out, so we decided to sit inside. The interior of the restaurant was clean and simple. The woman at the front desk (who turned out to be Lisa, one of the owner’s wives) was warm and welcoming.
I expected a mere burger place, but when I opened the menu, to my surprise…I was presented with a Korean-American (really more Pan-Asian-American) menu. On the menu were items such as a Kalbi Burger (ground beef, Kalbi marinade, kimchi, fried egg, sesame roasted nori, with a spicy aioli), a bahn mi (grilled chicken, lemongrass and curri aioli, pork pâté, Asian slaw, pickled veggies, fresh herbs, jalapeños, and NOM NOM sauce), and a Peking duck sandwich (Peking seasoned duck, pork belly, cilantro, scallions, cucumber, hoisin sauce, served on mini lotus buns).
I ordered the Kalbi burger, but my server goofed. He ended up brining me the Ahi Burger ($14). I figured it was a sign that I should be eating a little healthier and dug in. Let me start by letting you know that NOM NOM has replaced the burger bun with sushi rice patties. This burger was closer to sushi than a burger. The buns were filled with a lovely blackened tuna, plentiful avocado, spinach sprout, wasabi mayo, and a citrus soy dipping sauce. Yummmm. I loved eating this and not feeling guilty afterwards. The sandwich came with shoestring jalapeño fries. Loved them too.
Antonio opted for the NOM NOM burger ($10). My sandwich was delicious, his was better. Imagine biting into incredibly juicy ground beef patties that are glazed with homemade teriyaki sauce. There was provolone cheese and sautéed shiitake mushrooms for a touch of umami, and caramelized onions with a ginger orange marmalade. I took a bite, then asked for another, and soon Antonio found himself fighting me off from eating his lunch.
As we finished the owner, Tung, stopped by our table and induced himself. We had noticed he had done this with each table at the restaurant. He told us about the restaurant, the concept, how dishes re made. When we asked if there were others in the area, he told us that he had only been open 3 weeks and that this was the only location.
If you find yourself in Charlotte, go to NOM NOM Burger. You will be glad you did. Then, let everyone and their mother know so that they succeed and come to NYC. Danny Meyer…if you are reading…check these guys out….could be a nice addition to the Shake Shack empire.
Sun – Thu: 11 AM – 09 PM
Fri – Sat: 11 AM – 10 PM
NOM NOM Burger is located at 1600 E Woodlawn Road, Suite 170 in Charlotte, NC 28209