What is more classic than hamburgers and hot dogs? Nothing, except perhaps the regal American wagyu “Kobe style” counterparts at Kings of Kobe in Hell’s Kitchen. At Kings of Kobe, they have taken American favorites, elevated them with fine ingredients, and made them into royalty.
Even though there is an on-the-go feel inside the small space, complete with colorful murals and fiery orange stools set against dark furniture, it is apparent that thoughtful innovation has inspired the most regal makeovers for the plain burger and dog. The small storefront on 9th Avenue offers big flavors, because King of Kobe dresses up what goes between the buns with a range of unexpected combinations that come together like classics.
Kings of Kobe is keen to lay on the fresh toppings and unique sauces for both their dogs and burgers. We are here for the freshness that comes in the form of fruit relishes, fresh vegetables, an assortment of cheeses, amongst others. Each addition works together to make the high-grade beef kingly.
There is nothing typical or bland about the list of hot dog and hamburger offerings. Even the King’s Classic hot dog isn’t topped with just plain ol’ mustard, but there is sauerkraut and sautéed red onions to take it up a notch and the King’s Standard burger goes beyond the standard with roasted tomato, pickles, white cheddar, and a not-so-standard cherry pepper aioli.
The All Nighter hot dog at first glance seems more traditional: bacon, sautéed red onions, bleu cheese dressing. But Kings of Kobe would add on the surprising element of lemon zest. That brightness of lemon highlights the tang of the bleu cheese and brings out the sweetness of the onions and the saltiness of the bacon. It is not a battle of toppings that could outshine one another, but rather a song and dance that make us want to call the hot dog Your Highness.
The Louis Louis has a lot going on underneath that bun. The burger is topped with spinach and a runny sunny side up egg, and crowned with a heaping pile of crunchy bacon and a thick drizzle of roasted garlic aioli. Here, the silky earthiness of the spinach overwhelms the burger, which is not quite front row center. Although an egg is reminiscent of breakfast, this egg does the savory work and pulls the flavors together with a smooth ribbon of yolk. The varying textures on this bun are pleasing and engaging.
Please, do not skimp on sides ranging from chili fries, to onion rings, to slaw, to a mixed green salad. The herbed truffle fries make you feel like a queen. There is the crunch, the aroma, the salt, all of the things one wants most from delicious fries.
And don’t forget dessert. After chowing down on the umami of layered savory hot dogs and burgers, give that sweet tooth a chance to come out and play with the royals. A tall twist of whipped cream hides the loose banana pudding studded with Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal in the playful All Hail the Banana dessert. Like with the savories, even the sweets play deliciously to American nostalgia.
Kings of Kobe has truly created the burger and hot dog monarchy.