Matt Surrusco and photographer Enric Català sink their teeth into 919 Quick’s meaty Japanese bar fare – from a fried-egg-topped burger and crispy fried chicken to cheesy curry and, well, another juicy burger.

There’s a duality to the burger patties served up at 919 Quick Hamburg and Curry that leaves one’s mouth watering and mind wondering how they could taste so good.

The flavourful meat is a mix of beef and pork from Australia and New Zealand, says manager Omura Shin. After being shaped by hand, patties are first grilled and then baked. They’re cooked well and not greasy, but still moist and juicy on the inside.

Whether served over rice and Japanese curry, with a bun or without, the “hamburg” at the diner-like bar and grill, which is situated in an alleyway near Phnom Penh’s Wat Lanka, is the standout on the menu.

One “burger” option is the teritama hamburg steak ($6.90), comprising a flavour-filled beef-pork patty served sans bun and topped with a fried egg, which is partially grilled and then seared with a butane torch, leaving the yolk just slightly runny. With hints of salty teriyaki sauce and meat that nearly melts in your mouth, the patty is far beyond your average beef burger.

The sides of grilled corn and carrots, cooked on the same grill as the burger with similar flavour, red cabbage and mashed potatoes are great complements.

For those who prefer their burger with a sesame-seed bun and fries, the more Western-style cheeseburger ($6.90), which includes the same beef-pork patty with mozzarella and gouda, was a delicious experience, messy and with all the fixings – tomato, lettuce, onion, pickles and green olives.

The thick-cut fries are seasoned well with salt, dried parsley and a bit of chicken stock powder, so even the chips have a slightly meaty flavour.

One of Shin’s favourite dishes, the baked cheese hamburg curry ($9.50) is a traditional Japanese curry served over rice with a hamburg patty, melted mozzarella and a sprinkle of parmesan, which transforms it into a diner-like, cheesy classic and is easily shared among two or three diners.

Another staple of Japanese casual dining, the fried chicken side ($3.90) is essentially a meal with five pieces of crispy chicken fried in a breaded coating that includes ginger, garlic, gin and soy sauce, Shin says. It’s served with mayo and soy sauce for dipping and a side salad.

If that wasn’t enough meat for one meal, the chicken steak ($5.90) is an alternative to the burger. While the first few bites were overly salty, adding some Japanese sauce helped dull the salt flavour and sweeten up the tender, grilled chicken. It also comes with grilled vegetables, cabbage and mashed potatoes.

With low-lighting and seating for 25 people at a long, stainless steel bar counter, small tables or a larger booth in the back, 919 Quick is an intimate, casual restaurant offering hearty Japanese comfort food.

Not a good choice for vegetarians, but a great one for meat-loving couples or friends, this burger and curry joint is sure to leave you full and glad you forgoed usual bar fare for something more satiating.

68 Street 51, Phnom Penh.
Tel. 096 952 8051.
Open Monday to Saturday, from 11.30am to 3pm and 6pm to 10pm.
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