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Tops Kobe Cheese Burger is Tops

The first time I had this burger, several days ago, I requested American cheese. When I saw how delicious this gourmet burger looked, I realized that I should not have second guessed the chef who clearly knew what is best. However, I still enjoyed every bite and therefore I returned last night and had my second one with everything as it should be.

Everything is – ½ lb. American Kobe Beef Burger (maybe bigger), Smoked Mozzarella Cheese, Caramelized onions, Tomato and Greens, and Herb Mayonnaise on a Ciabatta roll. The burger was very moist, tender and had a good beef flavor. I did add pepper, but I add pepper to everything except hot peppers. Most people probably would rather not add anything because this burger has so many combined flavors all working together already. The smoked mozzarella cheese and caramelized onions go together like wine and cheese. The greens are fresh and dark green and the tomato is fresh. The herb mayonnaise sends this burger way over the top. The Ciabatta roll was fresh and had a little tug and chew. This sandwich would be excellent even without the burger. My wife and I thought that it could be cut in half and shared with one of there “Small” orders of fries (half a shoe box).

American Kobe Burger – $6.45

NOTE: the “Tops” I am talking about is located on Colorado Blvd between Rosemead Blvd. And Michillinda.. This Tops is not owned by the people who own the other Tops on Walnut, the T-burgers in Monrovia or the Tops Jr. In Alhambra. The food at these other Tops, etc, is good but it is different than the Colorado location and I do not even know whether they offer a Kobe Burger.

Tops (Kobe cheese burger, fries, deep fried zucchini, pastrami, asada or chicken totasda)
3838 E Colorado Blvd (Between Rosemead Blvd. And Michillinda)
Pasadena, CA 91107-3940
(626) 449-4412

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  1. ugg, american cheese?

    good review though. Worth saving the info if I am in the area.

    1 Reply
    1. re: thesfv

      I can explain. The gyro post got me wanting one. I have had a good one at the Tops on Walnut and at T-Burgers. So I went to the Colorado location but was told they do not have one and that they are not related to the other Tops. I then noticed the Kobe sign and read the discription but really could not change gears from the want of a gyro to a burger woth smoked cheese. As a courtesy to the hurgry people standing in line behind me (as I already talked to the counter person about all the above) I quickly said the first cheese that came to mind -- American. I never even tasted th American on that first burger. The sweet caramelized onions and herb mayonnaise went very well with the meat.

      At this time I have had number 3 and I am still thinking of a number 4 soon.

    2. Great to know, thanks Jeet!

      1. Sounds good. I still need to check out their tostada, too, which is something that you recommended before. :)

        7 Replies
        1. re: katkoupai

          Hey Kat, you up too? The Kobe burger is good and I been thinking about it ever since. Maybe that is why I am awake at this hour. I will do it again this weekend.

          About that asada tostada at the Tops on Colorado Blvd. It is giant. The couple sitting behind me as I had that burger were sharing that tosada salad. They were sitting across from each other and the giant salad was in the middle of the table. Therefore they each had to lean over the table a little to reach it. It also made them appear to be in love leaning toward each other. Maybe they were just in love with the toatada?

          The Kobe burger and their pastrami are both large enough to share also, as long as a side like the fries, or better yet the deep fried zucchini, is part of the meal. They also have chili fries which many customars order, but although I do like their fries I do not like the chili -- just me.

          Tops (Kobe cheese burger, fries, deep fried zucchini, pastrami, asada or chicken totasda)
          3838 E Colorado Blvd (Between Rosemead Blvd. And Michillinda)
          Pasadena, CA 91107-3940
          (626) 449-4412

          1. re: JeetJet

            In love with the tostada? Yes, that sounds right to me. :) You are hilarious. :)

            1. re: JeetJet

              I have never tried the tostada with the asada - cannot get past the chicken one! I love their ranch dressing with it (not to mention with the zucchini!). Note: if you get the tostada to go: ask for the cheese on the side. That way, it does not get all melty. Also, I always make sure to ask for a side of their pickled carrots - so good!

              1. re: WildSwede

                Thanks for the tip. Cheese on the side to-go is a good idea for the tostada. I usually eat the tostada there because even leaving on the HOT-off-the-grill asada or chicken would wilt the greens a little. I guess I could ask for the meat on the side to-go as well.

                I think you would like the asada tostada. They use very good asada that has been in the same style marinade as the charbroiled asada made into tacos at so many places we all talk about.

                1. re: JeetJet

                  Will definitely need to try the asada then.

                  1. re: WildSwede

                    Hey wildman, what type of to-go package do they put that giant tostada in when you take it with you? Does it protect that big tortilla shell from being crushed?

                    1. re: JeetJet

                      They put it in a box and then a bag. I have never had the shell crack or crush on me. They do a good job!

          2. Thanks JeeJet. I surprised my hubby today and took him to Tops after some errands in Pas. He loves, loves, loves a good burger. I ordered each of us the Kobe burger as prepared and a small order of fried zuchini. Well, first off, I would hate to see what a large order of fried zuchini looks like as the small order was enough for at least 4 hungry people. Deeeeelicious. Then there is the burger. My honey declared it the best burger he has ever had. I have to agree. It was mainly the incredible beef taste first of all. I ate about half and gave up but am looking forward to the rest for dinner tonight (he's on his own!), My honey finished his with no problem and about 200 napkins. What a score. I am dying to take several of our friends and family there as we always do with a great find. Thanks to your post. I don't think I would have ever gone there if it hadn't been for you. They really don't need our business but we will be regulars.

            12 Replies
            1. re: Neta

              Thanks, but maybe more like, "if it hadn't been for Chowhound." This is a great board. I also went to Tops for lunch today and I got three Kobe burgers to-go. I did not have to travel but maybe 12 to 15 min. away but the meat was still hot when we ate them. I think the lid on the box, the thickness of the patty and also the way it was packed along with the half order of fries in the same large box, all worked to keep the burgers hot. Ya, a half order of fries and we 3 did not finish them -- too big. I requested extra herb mayo and I should have followed-up with asking for 400 napkins. It was really good with the extra herb mayo but it was extra messy. I don't think I will do that again. I took the burgers to a friend and he also liked it very much. He always orders 'no dressing or sauce" but this time he tried the herb mayo and said he will order it with "everything' next time as well. I find that the Smoked Mozzarella is just right. I notice the smokey flavor, oh - maybe once in every three bites. So many flavors going on in this burger.

              Today I noticed many customers, who were seated at the tables, eating those giant asada tostadas. As I walked toward the back door with my burgers I saw at least one tostada on every table on my right side and two on my left side.

              The pastrami, IMO, is better than The Hat for two reasons -- the roll and the meat. I also noticed several orders of the chili-cheese fries being packed to go as I waited for my burgers. The cheeses (white & yellow) looked really good. The onion rings are much better than they use to be but I like the fried zuchini with the blue cheese dip. It is nice to have a place that makes a few items really well.

              1. re: JeetJet

                How does this burger compare with the one at Bake 'N' Broil in Long Beach?

                1. re: katkoupai

                  The Tops Kobe burger is, IMO, pound-for-pound, and dollar-for-dollar, at $6.45, the best L.A. has to offer. The Tops Kobe burger is more than a burger, it is like having a one-on-one encounter with a suprise. Like opening a wrapped packed, seeing what is inside and getting that feeling that makes you pause before you go any further. Then comes the smile on your face. You almost feel sastified before you take your first bite because all your expectations and anticipations have been aroused by the visual presentation of this burger which is still in a wrapper. You know the feeling at this point. Good things are beginning to happen and that is what having a good time is about. As for the rest, try it kat and report back... sometime after.

                  There are maybe two or three other burgers in Long Beach that are as good as the Bake 'N' Broil burger. What makes Bake 'N' Broil more worth a visit than other Long Beach burger places is the banana crame pie or the red velvet.

                  1. re: JeetJet

                    i am so going here this weekend.

                    i hate this board.

                    1. re: ns1

                      Oh God, so do I. Must...try...it...

                    2. re: JeetJet

                      Thanks, Jeet. I will check it out the next time I'm craving a burger. I will have to go with a burger lover because it sounds like a special treat. :)

                      1. re: katkoupai

                        hey jeet,

                        do you got the address for the Tops that you're talking about, the location to get the kobe burger from, considering it seems like they're a dozen or more in and around that area, ranging from Top to Topz to Tops, etc.


                        1. re: kevin

                          Hi, Kevin,

                          This is the one:

                          3838 E. Colorado Blvd,
                          Pasadena, CA 91107

                          Jeet posted it earlier on this thread.

                    3. re: JeetJet

                      Tostada next for me and pastrami for my honey but, with an order of fried zuchini. I don't think I'll ever try the fries or onion rings unless I overdose on the zuchini. As for Bake N' Broil, what about the lemon lush pie????? OMG!!!!

                      1. re: Neta

                        I tried the Lemon Lush Pie recently when my GF got the last piece of Lemon Merangue. As they say during the Spanish language 'football' - SCOOOOOOORE!!! Oh yea Jeet Jet, Red Velvet Cupcakes for our midnight snack!

                        1. re: sel

                          "midnght snack" with GF (or in my case -- wife), oh yea, as I said in another post, the moist, sexy, naughty crimson "red velvet,' topped with a creamy white frosting takes the cake beyond suggestive and into being povocative. Ooooooh yea. Bake 'n Broi lis Good.

                          I have not yet had any of the lust pies at Bake 'n Broil that are so talked about on this board. I am stuck on the banana cream with thoses sliced bananas and perfect cream topping and crust. How can they make such a perfect flaky crust but have no aftertaste?

                          Jongeward's Bake 'n Broil (Breakfast,Lunch & Dinner. Chicken Fried Steak, Pot pie, Burgers. IMO, L.A.’s best Banana Cream and Red Velvet)
                          3697 Atlantic Ave (North of 405 – corner of 37th st.)
                          Long Beach, CA 90807
                          (562) 595-0396

                  2. The wife and I just got back from Tops and our first encounter with the Kobe beef burger. We split one, along with a small order of fries and even that was plenty of food. The burger was as JeetJet described - everything very fresh, a beefy patty, and a ciabatta roll that had a great texture to it - just the right amount of chew. The only thing not so great was the tomato, which was underripe but what do you expect with the sorry state of tomatoes these days. I thought it was excellent. My wife thought it was good but not great, but she's not a big burger fan. She thought the charbroiling gave it sort of a bitter taste. The burger, along with what I think are the best fast food fries anywhere, made for a very good meal. Is the burger worth $6.45? Being the cheapskate that I am, I have difficulty spending that much on any burger but this one was definitely good, at least as good as any restaurant burger. Another winner from Tops.

                    By the way, when we ordered this the guy at the counter told us that it was good. I mentioned that it was getting some great press on chowhound and he'd never heard of the site so I wrote it down for him. Then the worker next to him asked what we were talking about and he said people are talking about the burger on this website. So they guy asked what they're saying, and the first guy said "they're saying it sucks," and laughed.

                    Anyway, it was well worth the visit to Tops today. The Kobe burger is a winner.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: monkuboy

                      I had it on Thursday for lunch. It was too much food, but this being my first Kobe burger at Tops, I did not know that I could have shared it with my lunch companion. Next time.

                      I found the burger to be good, since I am NOT a big burger fan. I find it hard to get excited over In-n-Out burgers, or Fuddruckers, when it was still here in Pasadena. Having said that, I think this burger will draw me back to Tops. The side order of fried zucchini was superb also. It was so much food that I am going to take my wife next time and share one order of the burger and fries for dinner - it is that huge.

                      (In business school, I knew the son of the Bicos family that owns this place. He told me that his father and uncle had split - I think that is why the Tops serves different foods at the different locations)

                      1. re: suvro

                        I think the Tops on Colorado is the best of them. I guess a lot of people split the burger since that's one of the buttons on the register - it says to cut it in half. Ours came neatly cut into two, right down the middle so they must be experts at that sort of thing.

                    2. Ordered the Kobe Burger at Tops at 3838 E Colorado along with fries. Wonderfully lean like I've never experienced with a burger at a fast food joint before. I savored the texture and taste of the burger more than normal, barely noticing the bun. A bargain at $6.45.

                      I ordered 3 fries, (for 3 people) what a mistake. First of all, they weren't very good (reminded me of In'N'Out fries). Secondly, there was too much. I will try the zucchini fries next time. And maybe the pastrami, if the urge for the Kobe doesn't overwhelm me.

                      18 Replies
                      1. re: Ogawak

                        A "lean Kobe burger"? Exactly what all powerful magic spell do they use to make one of the most highly "marbled" beef cuts ever produced into a "lean" burger? : - )

                        1. re: Servorg

                          Don't ask. Try it yourself and then ask the cook.

                          1. re: Ogawak

                            Since Tops is a long, long, loooong way from home maybe someone can explain it -- or can you paraphrase the explanation by the cook as to how in the heck this burger can possibly be lean. Anyone? I just don't understand the process, (but I hope it's true and can be duplicated out here on the westside of LA).

                            1. re: Servorg

                              Sorry. I'm realizing that Kobe (Read Wagyu) beef served in fine restaurants is indeed the tenderest of meats. How does that translate into a hamburger patty? The meat maintains some semblance of the tenderness but seems to lose some of the fattiness in the grilling process. Without talking to any of the cooks/chefs (I went through the drive-thru window), I wish I explain more.

                              I was at a Cheesecake factory which also offered a Kobe hamburger, but the burger was ruined because they cooked the patty in a teriyaki sauce. when I saw JeetJet's post about Tops, I knew I had to try it.

                              The Kobe burger is not like having a wagyu steak, it is simply the finest hamburger patty I've ever experience.

                              There, I've really confused the issue.

                              1. re: Ogawak

                                Oh gads, I can't believe someone would ruin a hamburger by cooking it in teriyaki sauce. When I sampled the Tops Kobe burger, it struck me neither as lean or well-marbled, just pretty tasty.

                                1. re: monkuboy

                                  Cheese Cake Factory's menu is a loooong list of ruins.

                              2. re: Servorg

                                I read your question earlier and was curious myself because “lean” does seem to describe the texture yet the burger is also very tender and juicy – even when well done. Since I did not have lunch yet today, and needed to drop something off near The Original Tops, I went to find out more about the Tops Kobe Bistro Burger.

                                The thick ½ pound American Kobe patty is 80% lean / 20% fat. It is grilled over an open fire and much of the fat melts onto the fire (that fat turning into flames must be part of the chary flavor). The result is a juicy burger even when it is cooked well done (as it will be cooked unless you request otherwise when ordering). I had one for lunch again today with no sides. I had no breakfast this morning and I am stuffed from that single burger.

                                I have never ordered it to be cooked to a special degree of doneness. Next time I will try medium. Nevertheless, every time I have had one of these there are moments when the flavors of the meat, onions, and herb mayo all blend together and I have to stop chewing to try to save the moment. There are other moments when I notice the special degree of tenderness I have have never noticed in any other burger.

                                1. re: JeetJet

                                  Okay, I am headed out there for lunch today. Cannot wait to get the Kobe burger. Jeet, how do you normally like your steak/burgers cooked? I always order medium-rare. Do you think this burger would benefit better from my ordering it medium? What is your opinion? Thanks!!

                                  1. re: WildSwede

                                    I have not had it medium-rare but I will tomorrow because I have to pick something up near there. I will ask for just a little extra herb mayo. Either that or I will try that new turkey / bacon sandwich. Let us know what you think WildSwede

                                    1. re: JeetJet

                                      Okay, just got back. I ordered it "medium" but the guy looked at me and said "medium-rare okay?". I said "definitely".
                                      Order came up (my onion rings (well done)) sat for about 7 minutes and got cold which irritated me (the salt does not adhere to dry, cold onion rings!!) but I got over it quickly.
                                      Burger was SO good! I took a few bites before I could even get to the meat. I would say that they cooked my burger medium. I squeezed on the patty to see if I could see any "moisture beads" but there were none. However, the patty was by no means dry. I tried some of the beef alone (yep, ripped it out with my fingers) and there was no seasoning on it, but it had a nice charred, beefy flavor. I had to take out the mealy tomato (I am, as a rule, not a fan of tomatoes on my burgers anyway) and pull out some of the greens (nice field greens, not the usual Iceberg). Still, I could only eat half the burger. That is a big burger! I am glad that they wrap it so well! The grilled ciabatta was really great with it and I loved the herb mayo, smoked mozzarella and grilled onions. I will definitely order this burger again. I may even ask for extra grilled onions next time. All the flavors melded together so well!
                                      Hot dayum!
                                      Total for Kobe Bistro Burger, Small Onion Rings and a small drink $11.55. Orange Bang!! Not a bad deal considering dinner is also included in that cost!! ;-)

                                    2. re: WildSwede

                                      I think I've had 3 in the last couple of weeks. I ordered all of them RARE, one time the girl taking the order told me that they only cook them - medium - to which I replied that the past couple were done rare and she said ok. It was rare and yummy like the others! The only reason that I haven't been back is because I'm on a quest to try all of the burgers mentioned on CH that I haven't experienced yet!

                                      1. re: sel

                                        sel, I am really interested in how the burger tastes rare. Does the patty hold up? Is it juicier, more "marbled", less "crispy" from less grilling time? Just curious. I will try ordering it rare next time. It sounds like all the different order takers are not on the same page.

                                        I think GF is interested in the pastrami, and maybe the tostada.

                                        1. re: Ogawak

                                          I thought the burger was very very good rare. I could not detect fat/marbeling (sp?) like I can in a piece of unground steak and I did sample just the meat. It was very flavorful and juicy with a slight char taste on the exterior. I like the way that they make this burger but would also like a simpler version with less 'stuff' as well because the meat is very tasty. I can't think of a better burger at this price point!

                                      2. re: WildSwede

                                        Four of us went to the Original Tops on Colorado for dinner tonight. Two of us had the asada tostada (perfect as always) and two had the Tops Kobe Bistro Burger. We all shared a large order of deep fried zucchini (should have ordered the small size because even four of us could not finish the large).

                                        I finally ordered a medium-rare version of this thick ½ lb burger. The outside was a medium brown color while just under the surface the meat began to turn pink with a little brighter pink in the center. The patty holds up fine when grilled medium-rare. It is not over firm or mushy but keeps the form of a burger patty even when squeezing the roll while eating it. It is a little juicier than the well-done version which I usually order. It does have almost no chary/crispy surface yet there was still that char smoke flavor on the meat. The inside of the burger had a very good beef flavor with a texture that is beyond tender – it is soft. This meat when grilled medium-rare is still as soft as raw meat but has a little chopped steak texture/chew which, along with the pink color, lets you know it is cooked properly (although I did keep looking at the center expecting to see red which I did not). I noticed the printed receipt showed one “medium” and one “medium-rare” for $6.49 each.

                                        My son had his Kobe burger grilled medium and the outside was a darker brown with a nice char crust here-and-there. The inside was lighter brown and juicy.

                                        I liked the medium-rare version but I missed the deeper char crust of the well-done version I usually get. I also like eating the little chunks of burger that may fall when it is well done and then licking my fingers clean after picking them up. Eating pink burgers freaks me out a little also. Yeah, there is more beef flavor with it being more rare but this burger has plenty of flavor no matter how it is grilled.

                                        1. re: JeetJet

                                          Thanks for the report, Jeet. It sounds like my experience at Cisco. I too like that charred exterior of the medium, but still prefer m/r. I will try m/r and the zucchini fries at Tops the next time I am in that area (live in Santa Monica, work in Carson)

                                          1. re: JeetJet

                                            It took a while (since I don't live in the area) but had the Kobe burger again, this time medium rare. It was absolutely delicious. I like it MR and prefer this burger to Cisco Burger in Long Beach.

                                            GF had the pastrami and we shared a small zucchini fries. The pastrami was leaner than Hat's, and the zucchini fries were the best, w/ a nice firm batter.

                                            1. re: Ogawak

                                              Glad you liked it. I like it well done with a little char on the outside but it takes longer to cook that way. I also agree about Top's pastrami being leaner than The Hat's. I just had the Hat's pastrami on Thursday (Temple City location) because my truck was being serviced accross the street. Soooo much fat yet dry at the same time. IMO it had no flavor compaired to Tops and it was half the size for the same price.--- just bad! I once had a very good tuna sandwich at The Hat but my return trip two weeks later resulted in a very poor version. I guess the first batch was mixed by someone who likes tuna and the second batch was mixed by someone who hates fish? Next time I will just wait until my truck is ready to drive up to Tops because I am not returning to the Hat

                                        2. re: JeetJet

                                          Jeet, I think you have captured the essence of this fabulous burger. You're right that the texture is lean, but it is indeed juicy and very tender, as a Kobe burger should be. I live 30 miles away, but I'm ready for another one.

                                2. Link-o-rama.

                                  I thought JeetJet had lost his marbles when he said elsewhere that Tops was the best burger in SoCal, until I realized he was NOT talking about the Topz chain.

                                  Oh, I am so looking forward to being off this diet ...

                                  The Original Tops
                                  3838 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

                                  1. i'm gonna get their as soon as possible. just crossing my fingers i don't end up at the wrong tops.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: kevin

                                      No need to wonder about which Top's, the address is in the original post!

                                      1. re: sel

                                        And if you are taking the 210 east, just exit at Michellinda and it is right in front of you at the bottom of the off-ramp!! ;-)

                                    2. I think I struck out :(

                                      Went to Tops and ordered the much-lauded Kobe burger, medium rare.

                                      What I received (and didn't realize until I unpacked at home) was a burger that was cooked to the point of ... how do I put this ... being crunchy, all the way through. No slightly pink meat. No juices. Just dark gray, almost black meat. I ended-up removing the burnt puck, peeling off the cheese and putting that back into the bun, and eating an interesting sandwich, sans burger.

                                      On the other hand, the fries and the side of herbed mayo (for dipping) were quite good and my DC liked their tostada salad (I tried a couple bites - it was very tasty).

                                      Wasn't too impressed with the girl behind the counter - she was busy texting in between taking the order and kept turning away to talk to another worker, both overcome with giggles and whispering. Kinda funny, but not at the cost of a disappointing meal.

                                      So is the burger REALLY that good? Worth trying again?

                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: ElsieDee

                                        Gee you had an atypical experience. Normally all the employees are hustling and it seems like one of the owners is always there so there's no fooling around. I've never seen anyone goofing off over there, especially like you describe. I've also never had a burger as crispy as how yours came out - yes, please go back and try it again and if you get the same goofy girls I would complain.

                                        Those goof offs must have been trained at McD or something..

                                        1. re: ElsieDee

                                          Hey ElsieDee. From my original post, and another post I made about this burger on the “LA’s Best Burger” thread, I count 7 positive experiences with the Tops Kobe Bistro Burger including mine (Jeet, sel, Neta, monkuboy, suvro, Ogawak, WildSwede). HOWEVER, I also count 3 negative post including yours (maherdez, scoot, ElsieDee). I think it would be a copout to say, “Hey, it’s a new burger. Give the guy a chance.” With my money there are No chances. I know that complaining is not the way most people handle these situations but I raise hell while demanding my money back. I would not allow them to make it again unless they could truly show me how it got so messed up by accident rather than disrespect for the paying customer.

                                          It sounds to me like you saw how it got so bad (texting in between taking the order, turning away, talking to another worker while taking your order, giggles). Who ever was supposed to be in charge at that time simply has no respect from, or control of, the crew.

                                          “So is the burger REALLY that good? Worth trying again?” Well, for what it is worth, the statistics here (to date) show it REALLY is that good about 70% of the time and at least two of us have had a good one on several repeat visits (I have had 6 burgers in three weeks and bought four for four others -- all very good). I don’t know what to say but this is a problem that must be fixed because the burger is that good when it is done right. Anyone know what to do? I know if I ever get a bum burger from anyplace I will hand it to the owner himself.

                                          1. re: JeetJet

                                            Really, Elsie Dee seems to have caught them at an unusual time. In all of the times I've been to Tops, and that's a whole bunch, I've NEVER seen anyone goofing off like how she describes. Normally there's someone there watching all the employees and they hustle like crazy. I'd be really mad if I were her.. there's no excuse for employees acting that way and also no excuse for fouling up that burger they way they did.

                                            1. re: monkuboy

                                              I agree, Elsie Dee should try it again. Her luck has gotta change. I recall that she also had issues with the counter person at Vito's and at her local fav place recently. I had problems recently at Park Ave. my self, so I understand. I won't return to Park Ave. but I was dealing with the owner himself. Elsie Dee seems to have had issues with counter people and I think that can be overcome more easy. Anyway, because the burger REALLY is that good Elsie should give it another go and report back.

                                              Now, if I were Elsie Dee, and luck does not change, I would not be heading to Vegas anytime soon. Unless it were ONLY to pick-up one of those $1 half-pound dogs at Slots of Fun.

                                              1. re: JeetJet

                                                *laughing* Okay, okay, I'll go back and try the burger again.

                                                There was someone working there who might have been a manager, but they weren't in the kitchen, they were back around the corner of the dining area, talking with some law enforcement officers (who looked happy with their food) while I was there. Maybe the girls' were enjoying a few minutes of freedom. I wish I had the receipt, so I could see if the order was rung in incorrectly (my guess) - we did order the fries well-done and I'm thinking that maybe they transposed that into the burger being well-done?

                                                Regarding Vito's - we've been back twice since that unfortunate night and have been very pleased with the service, and that counter person wasn't in sight for the return visits. (And both times Vito was there, maybe that also helped.) Darn, but that's some really good pizza.

                                                FWIW, I've been really lucky lately with the counter service at Europane - maybe I should try Sweet Lady Jane, next? There's gotta be a good payoff for all of this, right?

                                                1. re: ElsieDee

                                                  If you get sweet service at Sweet Lady Jane I am going to Vegas with you. The problem with Europane is that when they are really busy (like all day Sat.) they need a full-time person to clean the tables, floors, and even the sidewalk out front. I have never had a problem with service at Vito's. In fact (I really need to pay attention to names at these places), the tall guy with glasses has always been so cool. IMO, he and Vito are part of the ambiance. At Tops I think people must make it very clear what color they want the inside of the meat. Something like, "Do me a favor, tell the cook that I want it....." I never had a problem at Tops and I have been eating there for a very long time. However, I once ran a big crew and although we cared about our product we screwed up sometimes -- it happens. I guess thats why I never worked in air traffic control.

                                                  1. re: JeetJet

                                                    I'd second Elsie's experience regarding counter personnel. They had a 'tude which screamed: "i hate my job, i hate working here" on that particular nite. it's eerily similar to the dreadful attitude found at every corner burger cum taco joint in LA. No big deal, it's completely understandable.

                                                    But the burger... i'd echo her experience as well. ordered a medium rare and got a medium well/well (no pink left at all). biggest waste of kobe beef. (of course many already suggest grinding up kobe for a burger is already wasteful...) tastes nothing like prevoius kobe burgers i've had.

                                                    for $6.5, i'd rather have a fully loaded Fatburger or just not spend that $6.5 at all.

                                                    1. re: TonyC

                                                      I also tried it last week and though I enjoyed the mix of toppings and the bun, I thought the meat itself was disappointing. A bit dry and flavor was kinda off.

                                                      My experience has been that Kobe can work nicely in little sliders, but not really in a big fat burger.

                                                      Next time, I'd get the Kobe Bistro Burger, hold the Kobe. Sub with their regular 1/2 pound burger instead.

                                                      But service was fine.

                                          2. re: ElsieDee

                                            Definitely give them another shot. I have had the burger twice and both times it was amazing.

                                          3. does tops serve beer or wine? i didn't see any on the menu that i downloaded from its website, but i didn't see this burger either.


                                            1 Reply
                                            1. I finally tried the kobe burger. We ordered that and the sandwich that comes with pastrami and swiss cheese (oh that was so good). Both were a hit! We also had chili cheese fries with the chili and cheese on the side, and ordered the fries well done. All in all a great 'bad' meal.

                                              1. Kobe Beef Burgers are one of my favorite things in the world to eat, but they're usually so expensive. I'm so happy to find out there is a good, decently priced kobe beef burger like 10 mins from my house. I am absolutely dying to try it out. Thanks so much for the post.

                                                P.S. I looked at the website for the restaurant and I don't see the Kobe Beef Burger listed on the menu, what's with that?

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: zeprosnepsid

                                                  Make sure you are looking at the Original Tops website, located on 3838 E. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA. There are other Top's not directly connected to this one. The other Tops do not have Kobe burgers.

                                                  1. re: zeprosnepsid

                                                    The Original Tops has two new sandwiches which are not yet on the menu. The Kobe Bistro Burger and the Chipotle Turkey with bacon. There are small signs on the counter at Tops which list these new items and you can order them. I am sure they will be on the regular menu soon.

                                                    I have never had Chipotle and usually never order turkey. Therefore, I have not yet tried the new Chipotle Turkey at Tops. It sounds good with the bacon and everything else they put on it. We really need a Chipotle and turkey lover to try that new sandwich and report back. I also noticed they have a Kobe beef dip....

                                                    Tops (Kobe cheese burger, fries, deep fried zucchini, pastrami, asada or chicken totasda)
                                                    3838 E Colorado Blvd (Between Rosemead Blvd. And Michillinda)
                                                    Pasadena, CA 91107-3940
                                                    (626) 449-4412

                                                    1. re: JeetJet

                                                      it's on the blackboard menu above, it's just not listed in the paper takeout menus, and jeet is right, there's also a tiny placard on the counter than mentions both the Kobe burgers and the turkey sanywich.

                                                  2. Based on this thread (and the success I've had with other CH recos), I had their Kobe cheeseburger and zucchini fries on Thursday.

                                                    In a way, it was like my experience with Sushi Zo: wonderfully delicious and a delightful experience, but not at all comparable to my previous experience of the same cuisine sampled previously.

                                                    I guess I have no specific position regarding the meat. It tasted excellent (I didn't request a specific done-ness, and what I got was just barely pink in the center), but not dramatically different in flavor or texture from good hamburgers I've had before.
                                                    The addition of the smoked mozzarella, grilled onions, and herb mayonnaise, however, was inspired, and the roll was delicious. The zucchini fries were great, too.

                                                    In the final analysis, I'll continue to get my cheeseburgers happily from Larry's in San Pedro (Gaffey @ Channel) -- American cheese, lettuce and tomato, no ketchup, cooked nicely on a tasty bun, rather than drive 40 miles to Tops for the interesting variation.

                                                    Glad I did it, though. Thanks, JeetJet, for the original post.

                                                    1. I have a question about Kobe ground beef in general.
                                                      The whole idea of Kobe beef is the marbling of the fat in the beef, yes?
                                                      So why does that matter in ground beef product? Is it really that much better?

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: maggielyn

                                                        maybe not.

                                                        it's just a way for a bunch of restaurants to get away with charging about 40 bucks for a kobe beef burger (excepting tops burger at 6.49 of course)j.

                                                      2. Out of curiosity how is their patty melt?

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: ReelMike84

                                                          it's excellent. 2 patties, grilled onions, lots of cheese on rye. get onion rings, chili fries or zucchini on the side and you're set!

                                                        2. Finally had this burger, and am hating myself for waiting so long. You're absolutely right about the combo of flavors, I didn't bother adding anything (despite the fact I had the green Tabasco AND Tapatio less than a foot away from me). The sweetness of the onions matched well with the savory herb mayo, but never overpowered the pure BEEFYNESS of the patty itself. The veggies helped cut through all the flavors, leaving your mouth feeling fresh and ready for another bite. Awesome, AWESOME sandwich.

                                                          1. Good burger, but if they didn't have the word 'kobe' on the menu I wouldn't know that it is kobe. Tastes like a normal beef patty to me. I think the herb mayo was key to what makes this burger tasty.

                                                            On the other hand - great fried zucchini and great ranch dressing. The fries did remind me of the limp In-N-Out fries as someone else pointed out, but not half bad after being covered in the chili-cheese mixture.

                                                            The bean & cheese burrito we ordered was a bit weird with whole pinto beans and tons of the salsa. We ended up tossing it.

                                                            Overall thanks for the recommendation. I think we will probably try the pastrami or the french dip next.

                                                            10 Replies
                                                            1. re: notmartha

                                                              Since you mentioned the Beef dip I finally tried it last night. It is a "Kobe Beef" Beef Dip. It is tender as Kobe should be --same as the burger. You can see the marble in the slices. The flavor is very nice also. The roll is soft but has a nice tug at the crust. IMO this is a very good beef dip.

                                                              Since you tried the burger, and mentioned the beef dip, it appears that you like beef. Maybe try the Asada tostada some time. It is a very good meal for lunch or dinner -- Sooooo big also.

                                                              1. re: JeetJet

                                                                Have you tried the 'other' sandwich (chicken?) that is on the banner with the Kobe Burger outside?

                                                                1. re: sel

                                                                  Hey sel. That is the Chipotle Turkey. I am not big on either chipotle or turkey but someday I will try it. My doctor said I should back off red meat and eat more fish / turkey. So.....

                                                                  1. re: JeetJet

                                                                    I guess I'll have to 'take one for the team' as they say, I'll report back!

                                                                    1. re: sel

                                                                      I tried the chipotle turkey this weekend, and it was great. The turkey and bacon were a great mix with the creamy chipotle sauce and other fixings. Definitely a good alternative t the kobe burger.

                                                                2. re: JeetJet

                                                                  Yup, I am a big red meat eater. Thanks for checking out the dip. I have to try that. Maybe the kobe favor will stand out more without the smoked cheese and the dressing.

                                                                3. re: notmartha

                                                                  Hey All,

                                                                  Thanks to Jeet for the OP on this topic. I tried the Top's Kobe Burger 3 times now (a few weeks apart each) and IMHO, it's "pretty good," but nothing that blew me away. Like notmartha said, if it didn't say "Kobe" on the menu item, I would've thought it was just a "big burger" patty (albeit solid quality).

                                                                  To be fair, I've tried Kobe burgers at a few Microbreweries / Pubs around town, and they all taste pretty similar: Solid, but not mind-blowing. Then again, maybe it's because it is a burger that's been ground-up and cooked so that a lot of the fat is rendered out?

                                                                  Still, it's nice to have it so close in the area.

                                                                  1. re: exilekiss

                                                                    Hi all,

                                                                    I followed the link http://www.theoriginaltops.com but I couldn't find the Kobe burger listed on their menu online. Is it a special item that's not on their menu?

                                                                    1. re: tommannion

                                                                      It's not on the online or printed menu yet. There's a banner outside and a placard on the counter.

                                                                      1. re: sel

                                                                        It's also on the takeout menu.

                                                                4. I recently tried the Kobe Beef burger at Tops in Pasadena. I have to say that after all the hype on Chowhound, I was pretty disappointed. I wasn't asked how I wanted my burger prepared and it was cooked well done. The taste of the burger and the fries was overwhelmed by some sort of chili seasoning. not my favorite. I also don't like when a burger falls apart while your easting it.. it was pretty messy. I did also just have the Pug burger at The Hungry Cat a few weeks ago, which is the best burger EVER, so I was a bit biased going in.

                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                  1. re: tag heuer

                                                                    Hey TAG. Hype? Nothing has been Exaggerated about this burger -- it is one of L.A.'s best and that is no exaggeration. For the price of $6.49, IMO, it is L.A.'s best burger. I would even say it is better than any I have had in Chicago, NY and Boston in that price range.

                                                                    You should have requested that they cook it the way you wanted it and they would have done so, including lots of pink meat. How can you blame them when you did not ask?

                                                                    There is NO chili seasoning in the burger or the fries, let alone, "overwhelmed?" What are you talkiing about? Did you really eat at Tops on Colorado?

                                                                    This burger, like any good burger, is messy if you remove it from the paper wraper. However, I have had over ten of these burgers and none of them have fallen apart. Now that (finger licking good) made me hungry.

                                                                    1. re: JeetJet

                                                                      hey, yes, I definitely ate at Tops on Colorado in Pasadena. I was not impressed to the say the least. Perhaps the seasoning was not chili, but it was something that was on both the fries and the burger. I'm not making this up, I tell ya..Maybe I was there on an off day and I had the crap chef. I also forgot to mention that it seemed like I tasted the grill on the burger more than the actual burger itself. I felt like it was flavored by everything else that was cooking on the grill. yeah, I guess $6.49 is a decent price considering, and if I go back, I'll be sure to ask for medium rare. Having said that though...Pie and Burger is closer to me..why would I ever not go there intead ?!

                                                                      1. re: tag heuer

                                                                        I think you went on an odd day if there was some sort of seasoning on your fries because I've never had anything on mine, even salt. They just give it to you plain. That's pretty weird. Well, to each their own about the burgers - I thought the Kobe burger at Tops was pretty darn good but the price is more than I usually pay for a burger. As for Pie & Burger - yuk. I ate there once and was really looking forward to it because of all the raves I had heard and ended up wondering if I went to the wrong place or ordered the wrong thing because it was one of the most mediocre burgers I've ever eaten and the fries were even worse.

                                                                        1. re: monkuboy

                                                                          I agree, Tops never adds any seasoning.....

                                                                          Pie & Burger is like Apple Pan -- over priced. If I want pie with my burger I make the drive to Bake & Broil down in Long Beach. Very good burger and some of the best pies and cake in L.A. Moreover, very reasonable prices. However, Pie & Burger does have some very good pancakes.

                                                                        2. re: tag heuer

                                                                          Pie and Burger? Are you kidding me? Excluding their fresh pies, their burgers, fries and food in general are down right awful! It's greasy, frozen patty burgers, small and tasteless. I couldn't imagine of a more generic burger than the ones @ Pie and Burger. Think outside the box and judge for yourself. You don't have to like an establishment's food just because the majority says you do. Judge for yourself and I guarantee you, 8 out of 10 times people will think P&B's food is down right awful.

                                                                          Speaking of Top's. I've been going there for a better part of 25 years (far less currently) now. In fact, I went to high school with the Bicos' brothers, who are now the owners of the various Top's around town. I used to love their Tops special burger. a Cheeseburger with Pastrami. As I've gotten older, I've phased out such diets for obvious reasons. One can't go to such establishments and compare them to higher end burger joints, i.e. Father's Office, 25 Degrees, Hamburger Hamlet, etc. It's a fast food place with fair and clean food. Judge it for what it is, in comparison.

                                                                          I personally haven't tried the Kobe Burger yet but I will. It's on my way home and only 2 miles from my house.

                                                                          1. re: Joe

                                                                            To be fair, I've only tried P&B once, and Apple Pan once but that was enough for me. Both times, my companion and myself both looked at each other and wondered the same thing - is that all there is? Did we order the wrong thing or, are we at the right place? Two unbelievably bland, boring burgers that, as you said, had no taste to them. The way I judge food is that if it tastes like something I can make, then it isn't worth paying for. And these burgers tasted like something I would fry up myself in the frying pan. Nothing special whatsoever. The fries were awful, too. Give me Tops any day (the one on Colorado, though - the others are not quite as good).

                                                                            1. re: Joe

                                                                              Ok, we finally went and had lunch yesterday @ Top's (on Colorado). We ordered the Kobe Beef Burger and asked for it to be cooked medium rare and cut in half. We also ordered a small order of fries and small rings.
                                                                              Long story short, we got a burger that was slightly over cooked (medium well) and even than, it was damn good. I can't wait to try it again when it's cooked to perfection. To say that we were pleasently surprised is an understatement. In fact, upon our return to my girlfriends sisters house, we got them all so worked up by talking about how good the burgers we just were, they drive 20 minutes to pick up more Top's Kobe Burgers to feed 4 more mouths. Every one of them was impressed and loved the burgers. Luckily for them, their burgers looked to be cooked just right.
                                                                              Instead of rings, they ordered battered zucchini. They also love that as well.
                                                                              This could be real dangerous and could affect my waste line. Top's is only 2 miles from our house and I could see us caving in to the temptation of the Kobe and finding ourselves back at the counter or drive through ordering more delicious burgers. Damn you, Top's!

                                                                              The Original Tops
                                                                              3838 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

                                                                        3. re: tag heuer

                                                                          The Pug Burger sounds really good. I mean, you can't go wrong with Blue Cheese. I gotta see what the hype about that one is all about.

                                                                        4. Just HAD to try this burger after reading these posts. It's right by my house, so an easy stop. This thing is HUGE, MESSY and the BOMB! This and Father's Office's burgers are two of the best I have had in a LONG time.

                                                                          1. Went again for the second time. Ordered pastrami this time, fries and a side order of chili w/ cheese & onions.

                                                                            Yummy! The pastrami was really good (much better than The Hat) for the fast food type, and this time the fries were done just right, not limp like last time. Having the chili separately might have helped to keep them crispy.

                                                                            Still can't finish everything with 2 adults and a child. Still have to try the French Dip, as the serving size was so large that 1 sandwich easily fed 2 people...

                                                                            1. After reading these posts, I had my husband stopped by Tops on the way home and picked me up a Tops Kobe Beef Bistro burger. It was absolutely delicious! The beef, the cheese, the onion just melt together! It smelled so good that my husband could not resist and ate half of it before he even got to the front door! I am going back to get my second real soon. It might even be later on tonight.... Yum....

                                                                              1. After my disappointing experience with the Kobe burger last September, I'd basically written it off my radar (though we go to Tops for other things).

                                                                                But Saturday night, at about 11:30, I came to the realization that I *really* wanted to try it again (I've no idea why, it just came to me out of the blue). So we ran down the street (technically drove, but not very far) and I placed an order for the much-lauded Kobe Burger, medium-rare.

                                                                                Received the order, got back into the car, and started salivating. I then gave-up on the idea of driving home and eating while reading a book and just sat in the parking lot devouring the darned thing! (Dining partner had more trouble consuming their tostada salad in the car - too bad for them!)

                                                                                Rich - juicy - full of flavor - perfectly cooked - melty cheese - "spring lettuce" assortment in place of the typical iceberg - excellent herbed mayo - sturdy, slightly chewy ciabatta bun.

                                                                                Really, really damn fine burger.

                                                                                So fine, in fact, that I / we went back on Sunday evening to celebrate successful haggling over a new car - and the burger was just as grand!

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: ElsieDee

                                                                                  That kobe burger's starting to grow on me too. Just realized part of what I really liked about the burger is the herbed mayo, which seems to have chipotle powder or something similar in it. The beef patty itself isn't spectacular, but the whole package somehow is better than the sum of its parts.