Thursday 1 December 2016

The Best Burgers in Singapore: My Top 3

I recently had the opportunity to travel with work to Singapore, which meant I had a chance to hit up a few burgers joints in The Lion City - here's how it went down...

1. Burger Joint, Gemmill Ln

Burger: Bacon cheeseburger
Side: French fries

Hailing from New York where the original Burger Joint sits behind a curtain in the lobby of Le Parker Meridien Hotel on 56th Street, Singapore’s Burger Joint outpost is similarly hidden in plain sight. All you’ll see is a neon burger on the wall of a white building on Gemmill Lane (off Amoy St.). The set up is simple – order at the hatch from a small selection of classic American burgers (grab a side or one of the huge number of craft beers) and then wait for it to be ready a few minutes later. You can choose to have your burger cooked to order – so naturally med-rare is the way to go as they use some great quality USDA beef. I ordered it with ‘the works’ so came piled high with salad, pickles and condiments.

The burger patty, cooked on a charcoal grill to add a hit of bbq flavour, tastes great and is coated in a veritable wave of melted cheese. I'd have preferred more caramelisation on the outside of the patty - it looked a little grey - but the taste of aged beef was undeniable. The bacon in the burger could be better cooked, but still packs a decent salty punch. The rest of the elements of the burger are pretty standard - the tried and tested lettuce, ketchup, mayo, pickle combination - and they work well. The whole burger is wrapped up in a toasted, soft white bun which keeps all the juice and sauce contained without breaking up and collapsing. All in all a good ol' American classic (just make sure you grab one of those beers).

Rating: 8/10

2. Omakase Burger, Orchard Road

Burger: Applewood smoked bacon cheeseburger
Side: Cheese Fries

Founded in 2012, Omakase Burger now has several restaurants in Singapore dishing out their own take on the American classic. The restaurant I visited is slap bang in the middle of the Wisma Atria shopping mall on Orchard Road, and the set up separates burger eaters in the middle of the mall from the kitchen in one of the shop units at the side.

There are three very good things about this burger - if you can look past its simplicity (and its small size!). One. The bacon. Oh dear lord this is good. A thick rasher of heavily smoked, slightly sweet and very salty is the centrepiece here. It's flavour hits you square in the mouth, and it has a long aftertaste you never want to end. Two. The beef. Well seasoned, loosely packed beef that has been seared on a flat-top grill to caramelised perfection. Three. The bun. In spite of its slightly washed out look, the bun is toasted (great for structure) and super soft at the same time - and satisfyingly it wraps around the burger's ingredients like a glove. My one niggle on this - the lack of melt on the cheese. It's not a big niggle though.
 As the burger is so small, I recommend you get a decent portion of fries to accompany it. And if you're getting fries anyway, you may as well get them drenched in melted cheese sauce. Trust me, there will be no regrets.

Rating: 9/10

3. Potato Head Folk (Three Buns), Chinatown

Burger: Baby Huey with Bacon (and a follow up Honky Tonk chicken burger)
Side: Naughty Fries (beef chilli and cheese topped puffed potato fries)
It you can put aside the slightly nonsensical name for a minute, the Three Buns kitchen at Potato Head Folk is pretty awesome. Located in Singapore's Chinatown, the hatch in wall gives you a fantastic window into what is an impressively well oiled burger operation. There's a big menu, which is always a concern (cue fears around 'jack of all trades, master of none') but the small range of great independent beers (try the mega-hoppy Cockies IPA) shows some talent for taste curation, so worth giving them the benefit of the doubt. That and the army of Uber Eats drivers waiting for their deliveries.

My (first) order was the Baby Huey burger with bacon. 
A relatively straighforward combination of flat-top griddled beef topped with an awesomely thick, melted and sticky American cheese. Top that with pieces of pickled onion to balance out the soft earthy tones of the cheese and beef, and a custom burger sauce that throws a hit of umami into the mix, and you've got a pretty special burger. Those who are regular readers will note the demi brioche bun, which is well known to round off a great burger, has signs of some great toasty notes. 

This reminds me of Patty & Bun in London, but with less mess.

With a fantastic first experience, I decided it would be remiss of me not to order a second burger and who could resist a buttermilk fried chicken fillet. So I had one. And yes, it was goooooooood. Succulent chicken with real flavour inside, with a satisfying crunchy and full flavoured fried crust. Add in miso mayo (inspired) and a hot sauce (which could be hotter) and you are onto a winner winner, chicken dinner.

Rating: 10/10. This IS the place you should go to if you want a great burger in Singapore. And those puffed potato fries are pretty special too.

If you are there, or manage to get our for a visit, let me know...I'd love to hear your burger adventures.

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