For those unfamiliar with Hot Joy, the phrase "cheeseburger spring roll" may sound strange. For those familiar with Hot Joy, it sounds exactly like what you would expect.
In a way, Hot Joy is hard to nail down. Southeast Asia joining hands with Wild West is one way of putting it, but we like to call it unbridled, delicious chaos. Hot Joy is known for giving tradition a one-way bus ticket out of town, in both decorum and menu selection. After serving in Dallas for about a week now, the San Antonio establishment has decided a two year "pop-up" (if two years can technically be considered a pop-up) was in order here. Between the eclectic menu and Chinese New Year dragon art, we think one dish in particular epitomizes this bridge between cowboys and samurais: the cheeseburger spring rolls.
The creation that came naturally, almost as though a byproduct of its environment. The spring rolls are made much the same way as the traditional fried fare. Hamburger meat, diced onion, chopped pickle and cheese are tightly packaged in a spring roll skin and deep-fried until golden, crispy and delicious. They're served two split rolls (four half rolls in total) on a bed of lettuce. Strange, we know, but hear us out. The crunch on the outside makes this dish taste like you’re eating a cheeseburger between two giant potato chips instead of buns. And we have to say, for an Asian-inspired restaurant, that’s pretty American to deep fry a classic. We can get behind that.
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But that doesn’t finish it. While the spring roll can’t have any sauce inside of it, as it would break apart in the frying process, sauce can be included on the side. Ketchup would be an immediate reaction, but Hot Joy knew it couldn’t settle. Instead, served on the side is what it calls “The Coolest Ranch," a regular ranch-style dipping sauce that is made by whipping ground Cool Ranch Doritos into it. It’s a calorific bomb that satisfies those deeply rooted cravings with a punch. Most plates at Hot Joy are meant to be shared, so splitting four cheeseburger spring rolls between friends isn’t too indulgent.
Yes, it’s a little gimmicky. Selling a deep-fried cheeseburger with a Dorito sauce is like turning on the cheat codes for a restaurant, as it’s guaranteed to sell. But Hot Joy does it well. The outside skin is properly crunchy, not soggy or drenched in oil. The pickles and onion are chopped extremely fine, as to stay crisp and flavorful. The hamburger meat isn’t chewy or fatty, and the cheese is just enough. If it were deconstructed and put onto a traditional bun, it would be a solid burger. The sauce is balanced, albeit only as balanced as the food scientists at Frito Lay could get it.
Through it all, the cheeseburger spring rolls epitomize Hot Joy. Hot Joy doesn’t care that it’s not a wagyu beef patty between two artisanal brioche buns. Hot Joy’s menu style is like a Chinese New Year parade street cart vendor posted up in a trendy New York borough. So relax, enjoy in the decadency of it all and loosen up the belt for one night. Your diet can wait until tomorrow.
Hot Joy, 3130 Lemmon Ave.