What’s in a name? For chef Joey Camacho, the name says it all when it comes to his restaurant Konjoe Burger. The eatery’s namesake—a clever combination of Camacho’s own name and the word konjou, meaning determined or daring in Japanese—is made up, but that doesn’t make it any less authentic.

Similarly, the food served at Konjoe Burger is inventive and unique, both in the flavors and global cuisines represented by its food. A modern and carefully crafted take on the quintessential American burger joint, Konjoe embraces all things classic but with an Asian-inspired twist.

Serving up the range of classic comfort foods, Konjoe introduces ingredients traditionally used in Japanese and Korean food, reimagining them as newfound toppings and original sauces for its wide selection of burgers, sliders, tots and even tacos. Focusing on quality ingredients, including ethically sourced meats, locally baked buns and a rotating selection of Bay Area-based beers, Konjoe manages to make the basic burger feel and taste highbrow without being pretentious.

Konjoe Burger’s fairly straightforward menu offers dressed up versions of the American burger we all know and love. Their flavor combinations are unique and well-researched: From Korean-inspired kalbi glaze to kimchi cucumbers, Konjoe makes a beef patty between a bun feel like so much more.

In order to get the full sampling of Konjoe’s many unique menu items, I started with appetizers like the fish ($8) and asparagus tacos ($5). Served two-up, both varieties were flavorful and well-cooked, and packed a surprising amount of flavor and texture in each bite. The fried fish tacos—topped with pickled tomato, molcajete, cilantro, furikake and a dollop of gochujang crema—were crispy, crunchy and creamy all at the same time and unlike any taco I’ve had anywhere, let alone a burger restaurant.

The roasted asparagus tacos were equally inventive and included guajillo salsa, avocado, cilantro, onion, sunflower seeds and parmesan as toppings. While parmesan on a taco sounds sacrilegious, its saltiness toned down the earthiness of the roasted asparagus for an overall mellow flavor.

For the main course, however, don’t stray too far from the classics. While Konjoe does serve a handful of chicken, pork and vegetarian sandwiches, their burgers are where they shine. Take the Shitake Jack burger ($12.50), a third-pound patty cooked to your specifications and topped with pickled jalapeño, shiitake mushrooms, housemade r.g.s.t. (roasted garlic, scallion and tomato) mayo and jack cheese, all served on a soft and chewy sweet roll. Spicy and tangy jalapeño slices melded perfectly with savory and well-seasoned mushrooms make for full and flavorful bites throughout.

The Konjoe Burger ($12.50) was equally delectable and came topped with a perfectly fried egg, a generous portion of caramelized onion, pickled jalapeño, jack cheese and Konjoe sauce, a spicy and savory Asian-inspired take on Thousand Island dressing. I opted to swap their beef patty out for an Impossible Burger patty ($5), which was also perfectly cooked and soaked up the runny yolk of the fried egg for minimal mess.

As for fries, Konjoe serves them in shoestring and tot varieties, dressed up or dressed down. I went for the seasoned fries ($3.75) that were lightly dusted in Konjoe’s special spice blend and came to our table piping hot and fresh out of the fryer, just as they should be. If you’re feeling really adventurous, try the homie fries ($10) with a homie (or three): the heaping pile of seasoned fries is topped with pork belly, hot link slices, jalapeño, scallions and Konjoe sauce.

Let’s not mince words here: Konjoe Burger’s portions are enormous. Their sandwiches and burgers are all packed to the brim, and they don’t skimp on the sauces and extras. That somewhat helps offset their high price point; I almost don’t mind paying $12 or more for a burger, knowing I’ll leave stuffed and satisfied but still curious to try more from their menu.

Konjoe Burger
3555 Monroe St., Ste. 75, Santa Clara