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'Soban' leaves stomach unsatisfied

By Jose Jimenez, staff writer
On December 13, 2013

As I took the Pinole Valley Road exit from I-80 in search of something to eat, I was in the mood for a cheeseburger but decided to try something new.
Soban was the place of choice to try and stimulate my appetite. Soban is a Korean food joint, right across the street from Five Guys in Pinole. The main dishes Soban serves are four different types of rice burgers. Talk about thinking outside of the bun.
They serve four kinds of rice burgers so I went with two choices from the very small and basic menu. First up was the OMG, a tuna cheddar burger with yellow pickle smothered in what seemed to be teriyaki sauce However it did not say that on the menu.
Second, I tried The Spartan. The Spartan is the simplest of the four options. It is served with only chicken teriyaki, seaweed and the same yellow pickle condiment. These two rice burgers come with sticky rice about an inch thick and some sesame seeds on top. The food looks very similar to sushi.
The tuna and cheddar mix was tricky for the taste buds because the cheddar was sharp, but the tuna seemed like it came from a Chicken of the Sea can.
It was not the red, purple raw tuna that a lot of Asian food establishments use, but the more brown colored type. The chicken teriyaki was very standard. It felt and looked like a giant piece of sushi from a California roll. 
Besides waiting 11 minutes for my two rice burgers, the worst part was when I picked them up to have a bite. They each broke in half. Maybe that is why they give you a fork with your order. The hot sticky rice just "sticks" to the paper in the box they serve it in. Plus, no fries or any type of side come with your order. Overall the food itself was very disappointing.
The rest of the menu serves your typical chicken wings and a sushi burrito wrapped completely in seaweed. I did not dare try the burrito, but maybe you will.
I wanted a new type of burger. Soban's rice burgers intrigue but fail to satisfy, and will likely leave your pocket feeling light. Everything on the menu costs between $6-$9.
Soban gets credit for trying to branch out and start something new, but with Jack in the Box, Red Onion and Five Guys in the same radius, serving burgers that can actually satisfy an empty stomach, it is hard to enjoy these overpriced rice burgers. 

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