Photo: Kevin Pang

My superpower is I can walk into any fast food restaurant blindfolded and identify it by smell. McDonald’s smells like French fries’ fry oil. Wendy’s smells of bread and sweetness, of the color yellow, if that’s possible. Subway smells strongly of Subway loaves. But of all the fast food chains, the interior of a Burger King smells most closely to the food it serves. It is the smell of of chargrill seasoned with meat juices.

Burger King is my least favorite of the chain burger slingers—there’s not one deeply craveable menu item I could name—but the aroma of a BK burger is rather evocative. I’ve always associated it the junky burgers my parents would use to cook in our backyard. We’d throw frozen patties from Costco onto our charcoal grill and those discs would get cooked within an inch of their lives. We’d slap on American cheese at the last moment, watch it melt and shrivel into yellow-orange magma, and squirt ketchup and mayo on top. That specific taste for me is Burger King: my parent’s perfunctory backyard burgers.

The Sourdough King is BK’s not-so-subtle take on Jack-In-The-Box’s Sourdough Jack. It tastes unmistakably of Burger King—that beefy char, the raw onion rings so unique to a Whopper, that spiced-mayo/ketchup hybrid, the lacquered-in melted cheese. The novelty here is the sourdough buns, which unfortunately lacks strong sourdough characteristics and quickly loses its crisp texture (I timed it: it was 10 minutes from the drive-thru window to consumption). So you end up with a slightly mushy Texas Toast bun, which revives nicely if you throw in the toaster oven for a few minutes.

This burger comes in a single or double patty, with surprisingly crisp bacon. It’s not in the top tier of chain burgers (Wendy’s Junior Bacon Cheeseburger), nor even the second tier (Carl Jr’s Six Dollar Burger). The Sourdough King doesn’t have a lot of textural variance, nor flavor contrast; it’s mostly a bomb of like-tasting savory ingredients, with that charred meat aroma at the forefront. Beyond that, it simply falls in line with most chain reviews: If you previously enjoyed food from that restaurant, you’ll likely enjoy their menu items too. If you’re not a fan, chances are you won’t be bowled over.

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