Bloody Beautiful Burgers

Bloody Beautiful Burgers

The person who invented the burger probably didn't foresee just how far burgers have evolved since it was created (probably by accident). If he/she did, they would probably have wept tears of joy over some of these breathtaking burgers.
Russell Leong
Russell Leong

@shakeshacksg new New York Steakhouse Burger sounded extra promising, so I made my pilgrimage to the best fast food burger chain in Singapore to wrap my jaws around this promising burger. The NY Steakhouse Burger (double patty, $15.90) is a regular smashburger that’s been beefed up by the addition of grilled portobello mushrooms and crispy deep fried onion strings, and sauced up by horseradish peppercorn mayonnaise.⠀

The combo of beef, crispy onion strings & mushrooms takes me back to the good ol’ days of American steakhouses like Sizzler & Ponderosa, where the steaks would be smothered in a heaping helping of fried onions & mushrooms. Here at Shake Shack, a burger is the one getting smothered instead, and it is utterly glorious. ⠀

The delicious smashed beef patties are glued together by melted white cheddar, and the slices of portobello mushrooms give the beef an even more satisfying chew and a deeper, earthier umami flavour. The fried onions were absolutely inspired, as their crunchy qualities stood out in a burger with nothing but soft textures and kept your palate from experiencing textural fatigue. The onions were a delectable combo of sweet & salty, further exalting the already intense flavours.⠀

Unfortunately, the horseradish peppercorn mayo was a flop. While I did detect a smidge of horseradish in the sauce, along with a notable pepperiness, it lacked the pungent taste and intense heat expected of horseradish. As such, the burger’s greasiness did get out of hand at times, and I had to rely on swigs of the Shackmeister Ale to cleanse my palate. I really wish that the Shack was more bold with the horseradish, its spiciness & strong flavour would have been perfect for this burger.⠀

Still, apart from the dissatisfying mayo, I’d still stake good money on this steakhouse burger.

@hambaobao has been on on my radar for five whole years, but the cosmos always intervened somehow. Initially, it was the far flung location, then they closed down, and then when they reopened in Jalan Besar, there were newer and more exciting dining establishments around. Enough procrastination, I finally decided to get myself a Hambaobao.⠀

Their superstar is the Crispy Pork Belly, which now goes at $9.50 nett a pop, and it made perfect sense why at first bite. Five exceedingly chunky slabs of roasted pork belly are drizzled with hoisin sauce, spicy English mustard and tucked between two halves of a burger bun and garnished with slices of Japanese cucumber. There’s so much pork belly, and it’s pretty damn delightful. The rind is severely crunchy, and every bite will result in a slightly deafening crunch as the roasted skin simply shatters. The meat is salted quite simply, but that’s the raison d’être for the hoisin sauce.⠀

The sauce is the ideal amplifier for the fatty pork belly with it’s deep, fragrant umami and tangy sweetness. The fragrance of the spices in the hoisin sauce are the perfect perfume for the simply seasoned pork too. The delectable heat of the English mustard restrains the fattiness & saltiness of the pork & hoisin, and the cucumbers provide even more crunch and a refreshing cleansing of your palate.⠀

The stunningly soft burger buns offered no resistance as I bit into it but I did, for the first time ever, find that the burger buns were too small to contain the meat between. I expended most of my energy futilely trying to hold the burger together, and it got real messy real quick. Cutting a pocket into the bun like it’s a pita would definitely help, but there’s no denying that this Crispy Pork Belly Hambaobao is a damn near perfect burger.

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@mcdsg has dropped their new Singaporean burger just in time for National Day, and this year it’s a Laksa Delight Prawn Burger ($11 for the full set). McDonald’s set a pretty high benchmark with last year’s Hainanese Chicken Burger, and the Laksa Delight is a worthy successor.⠀

The prawn patty is the same one used in the Hokkaido Shrimp Burger a while back, and the texture is acceptably firm. A fried egg is the prawn patty’s plus one to bulk up the burger, and in typical McDonald’s style, it’s fried until all the yolk goes solid which isn’t the best. However, what is the best is the laksa sauce spread on the top bun. ⠀

The laksa sauce is remarkably authentic, loaded full of spices and flavours everyone expects from laksa: spicy, umami from the dried shrimp & shrimp paste that goes into the spice mix, the pungency of turmeric, the fragrance of galangal, and the richness of the coconut milk. McDonald’s laksa sauce is one of the richer renditions out there, easily able to put many actual laksas out there to shame. The only disappointment with this burger is that there isn’t nearly enough luscious laksa sauce to satisfy me.⠀

It’s quite impressive for a global burger chain to capture the essence of a beloved local dish like laksa and apply it splendidly to a burger. While their mascot may be a clown, @mcdsg does know a thing or two about good food.

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@harryssingapore is a Singaporean institution, and they’ve come a long way from being a jazz bar with affordable drinks to offering beautiful burgers like their limited edition Martell Bullet Pepper Wagyu Burger ($27++, I believe). What sets this bacon cheeseburger apart from its peers is its special bullet pepper sauce that’s been jazzed up with the addition of @martellofficial cognac, concocted by the new head chef of Harry’s.⠀

The dummy T H I C C wagyu beef patty is incredibly juicy, but I personally felt that the beef within was ground up too finely. The texture felt more akin to a paste that had been compressed into a patty, like a fishcake. I reckon it would benefit the burger if the beef was ground coarser, giving you the familiar chunky bite & mouthfeel of an excellent ground beef patty.⠀

Texture aside, this burger was brilliant. The bullet pepper sauce was piquantly peppery, injecting a great deal of fire into the burger. Unfortunately, due to the strong, spicy pepper flavours, the Martell that went into this thick sauce was completely overshadowed. Oddly enough, this sauce wasn’t notably salty, and most of the savouriness actually came from the two beautifully browned bacon rashers.⠀

This bullet pepper burger is definitely a sumptuous gourmet burger, and biting the bullet has never been so painless & pleasurable. Many thanks for hosting me, @harryssingapore & @burpple!

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I’ve had @fiveguyssingapore before, and felt they came up short of the Shack in the satisfaction department. However, after applying @nusfatclub revolutionary hack of adding a beef frankfurter onto my bacon cheeseburger for an additional two bucks, I’m seriously reconsidering that statement.⠀

The last time I had the bacon cheeseburger ($17), I found it to be a tasty burger, but it didn’t leave me with any desperate cravings for a second helping. This time, however, with the all beef hotdog, oh boy oh boy it was sensational. The strong smokiness of the hotdog fused flawlessly with the smoky bacon rashers, and the smokiness carried over well to the decently juicy & greasy patties. The added smoke & salt turned out to be the missing pieces of the puzzle. The burger itself was seasoned adequately but not amazingly, so it was always lacking that ‘dude this is awesome’ factor.⠀

This time, however, thanks to the additional saltiness, smokiness & greasiness of that brilliant beef frank, the burger finally attained peak burger brilliance. The meatiness of the burger was absolutely off the chain, and each bite was supremely satisfying. It’s salty, greasy, meaty, sinful and absolutely sumptuous. It’s a soul satisfying burger done absolutely right. Add that meaty magnificence to my chosen toppings of lettuce, grilled mushrooms & onions, and sauces of BBQ sauce, mayo & relish, and I had an absolute world beater of a burger.⠀

While I do wish I asked for more relish, this particular burger creation is near perfection. Oh yeah, I’m more than happy to let my wallet get banged by Five Guys any day.

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Ever since that Korean burger chain abruptly upped and left the building, there hasn’t been a dedicated Korean burger joint in Singapore. Fret not good folks, for @bbbunsfordays is here to fill that void. Sure they’ve got the universal cheeseburger & chicken burger, but what you’re really here for are those burgers spiced up with Korean flair.⠀

Their BB-Bul-Go-Gi burger is the logical conclusion of marrying a cheeseburger to Korean culinary heritage. When it comes to Korea and beef, bulgogi was the inevitable outcome. This big bad bulgogi burger is loaded down with a double portion of meat, because of course I ordered an extra helping of bulgogi beef. Go big or go home, people.⠀

The American beef flank shavings were marinated in bulgogi, which imbued the beef with all of its sweet & salty sapidity. The ballad of beef gets to tango with thinly sliced white onions on the grill until it all gets captivatingly charred during the hot & heavy mating. Then, the awaiting brioche buns that Bbburgers are so proud of (rightfully so) are slathered with some mayo, dressed modestly with a leaf of lettuce, and used to barely contain the avalanche of divine bovine.⠀

Unfortunately, you can have too much of a good thing. The brilliant bulgogi beef got overbearingly sweet & salty in equal proportion, and the caramelised onions offered no respite from the onslaught of flavour. I found myself wishing for something sharp and/or spicy to stem the tide, like some kimchi in the burger instead of lettuce or even pickled radish. This burger is delicious, for sure, but it will run amok if it’s left unchecked.⠀

Aside from that minor improvement that could and should be made, this BB-Bul-Go-Gi burger is a certified 🅱️adass 🅱️ig 🅱️oi 🅱️urger.

Burgers hold up passably well to the rigours of delivery, and nothing quite beats the comfort of burying your face in between two fabulously fat & lusciously lubricated buns in the comfort of your own home. My previous encounter with @burgersbywolf a few years back wasn’t the most pleasant, but they got this chance to make amends via @grabfoodsg.⠀

Comically enough, the Apex ($26.75 before discount for fries, drink and the whole shebang) from the cloud kitchen actually fared better than the burger I had in person at the Suntec City outlet. Yep, these obscenely obese wagyu beef patties were actually sufficiently seasoned this time around! Oh yeah, the Wolf Burger remontada is on.⠀

To be honest with y’all, I dismissed Wolf Burger’s description of the Apex burger consisting of ‘a thick juicy wagyu patty’ as pure baloney, but as you can quite clearly see I was wrong. No falsehoods here, so no party is gonna ask you to take it to the grave. Actually, come to think of it, there really wasn’t any need for me to slap on another patty for and extra five bucks-wait, what nonsensical blasphemy am I blurting out? No, of COURSE I HAD to make it a double AND add turkey bacon, duh!⠀

The terrifically T H I C C wagyu beef patties were cross examined for nine seconds, not nine hours, and they were demonstrably juicy and brilliantly beefy. However, as you can see, the consistency when it comes to cooking the patties is suspect at best. One patty came marvellously medium as requested, but the other wasn’t just well done, it was ‘congratulations’. Both were undoubtedly juicy, yes, but consistency is key.⠀

The aged cheddar was totally eclipsed by the behemoth beef patty, but it did add an umami creaminess to the burger. I thought the burger could’ve used more of those sweet caramelised onions and a couple of crunchy lettuce leaves, but this 🅱️ig 🅱️oi 🅱️urger is still categorically brilliant.

Believe it or not, this is the first time I’ve ever had a SmokeShack ($14.40 for a double). I’ve gotten sidetracked by limited time specials like the shallot one, or simply failed to resist the allure of the almighty Shack Stack on my previous forays into the Holy of Holies of fast food burgers. This time, however, I stayed strong to finally wrap my ravenous maw around the SmokeShack.⠀

Don’t get me wrong, it was still a beautiful burger, but the domineering cherry peppers simply drowned everything else out with their loud, spicy and smoky flavours. The salty, gratifyingly greasy smashed beef patties were obfuscated by the peppers, and the bacon simply faded into the shadows due to the domineering character of the cherry peppers.⠀

Still, the SmokeShack will comfortably beat many burgers out there due to the sublime quality of the ingredients & seasoning on the burger. Protip: add on some raw onion rings, a couple of pickles and a pint of ale to temper the hedonistic lavishness of the SmokeShack. Thank me once you’re done devouring this tasty burger.

Twenty six bucks is pretty astronomical for a burger, but at least @sevenscafe.sg tries to soften the blow by making this a bonafide 🅱️ig 🅱️oi 🅱️urger. The Gyu Burger is constructed from an extra T H I C C wagyu beef patty that’s smothered between layers of house-cured bacon, Swiss cheese, American cheese, veggies, tangy pickle relish and brioche buns.⠀

It’s a tall burger, and it’s also a tasty burger. The minced beef patty is done to a mouthwatering medium, with hints of pink inside. Despite its dry appearance, it is delightfully juicy and fantastically fatty, with every soul satisfying bite compelling you to take another behemoth bite. The bacon is cured in house with a proprietary spice blend, and it’s more peppery & less salty than most other bacon out there. Texture wise, it’s actually a dead ringer for Korean BBQ pork belly!⠀

Double cheese is doubly nice, and the brioche buns were airy & pillowy soft, but the thing I really couldn’t get enough of was the sweet relish. Yes, I know it’s just minced up pickles, but the tangy, refreshing flavour that cut through & balanced out the rich meaty flavours was utterly mesmerising. I really wish there was more of that relish, because it truly made the burger a brilliant one.⠀

The Gyu Burger is doubtlessly expensive, but it’s a peerless option when you wanna flex on the poors and get your burger cravings settled at the same time. Seven wonders? Nah, get me seven of these burgers instead.

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@mcdsg seem to be starting a fried chicken side hustle with the permanent fixture of the McCrispy (aka the McShitty because of what it does to your bowels), and now the unexpected collab with @benyeo23. The Hainanese Chicken Burger is a half truth, as it’s a deep fried chicken fillet as opposed to the poached chicken that defines Hainanese chicken, but it definitely is a burger.⠀

As you may have already guessed, the chicken did not make this burger. It’s still greatly gratifying though, as it’s juicy, meaty and decently deep fried, and you have to be trolling to make fried chicken bad. No, the sauces were the reason why McDonald’s had the guts to even call this a Hainanese chicken burger. The gloriously garlicky chili was mildly spicy but possessed no less flavoursome fabulousness than the best chicken rice chilies out there. ⠀

The ginger paste/sauce was insanely gingery, and has probably been robbed from an actual chicken rice stall. I refuse to believe that Mickey D’s can actually whip up a ginger sauce that can beat many chicken rice hawkers out there. Ain’t no way, ain’t no fuckin’ way. And of course, the extra touch of dark, slightly sweet soy sauce on top really seals the deal & turns this burger into a legit tasting Hainanese Chicken experience. Oh, and these waffle fries? Absolute potato perfection. Potatoes aspire to become these waffle fries when they grow up, trust me.⠀

The semolina flour dusted buns were tastefully toasted & fluffy, and the veg was a little out of place but not unwelcome. Pickled veg would definitely be the way to go, but you know what would REALLY turn this into a legit Hainanese Chicken experience? Chicken rice burger buns, son, that’s how. As a matter of fact, it would then morph into the gone but definitely not forgotten pinnacle of culinary art that are the Fan-tastic burgers. Strap in kids, it’s time for more Fan-tastic burger propaganda.⠀

@mcdsg bring back the Fan-tastic burgers already before I be wil’in in your stores. It’s the only good thing you guys have come up with since the Samurai burger. And the McGriddles. And these waffle fries. Run the Fan-tastic burgers back again, right god damn now.

It’s been eighty four years since I last had a ramly burger-okay fine, the last ramly burger I had was in the last pasar malam (night market) in early 2020, before the corona robbed us of normalcy. Still, it’s been a long ass while since my last ramly fix, and I’m pretty grateful that I’ve discovered @ramburgersg.⠀

At four bucks for a regular beef ramly and extra two for an extra patty, this burger isn’t that much more expensive than the classic pasar malam version. Plus, you can make it a meal with curly fries & a drink for a grand total of…nine dollars. Everything is a carbon copy of the old & beloved greasy street food classic, from the mass produced buns, to the highly processed patties that (hopefully) contain beef and are pretty sus because of the odd colouring, the omelette that serves as a nice little golden blanket for the patties, and the chili sauce, black pepper sauce, mayonnaise & ketchup which exist in harmony.⠀

Still, there was something distinctly missing from Ramburger’s ramlys. Perhaps it’s because it ain’t anywhere near saucy enough, or because it’s missing a secret spice mix that’s shaken liberally over the patties while grilling, or it might be because I’m eating a ramly burger while stone cold sober. Come to think of it, this is the first time I’ve ever consumed a ramly burger while not absolutely shitfaced drunk & hammered at two in the morning.⠀

Still, it’s a passably delectable burger at the price it commands, and I’m definitely going back for the prawn burger. Also, curly fries. They got me curled around their finger, I tell ya what.

In theory, @ashessgburnnit Pulled Brisket Burger is pure perfection. At $6.90 (nice) for the regular, and $9.40 nett for double the beefy brisket bliss, this is a brilliant bargain. The Australian beef brisket is braised in what is probably a marvellous mirepoix for twenty four hours, which is why all that’s needed for it to fall apart are these hands. That’s right, no knife or fork needed to pull the brisket apart, only hands.⠀

The salty, rich & unforgettably umami brisket is heaped into a ponderous pile on a leaf of lettuce, which itself is perched upon the bottom half of a charcoal burger bun. A quick drizzling of Ashes’ ‘signature sauce’, which seems to be a cheese sauce, is the last element that goes on the burger before the top half of the bun caps it all off. Supported by a side of French fries that can be upgraded to either cheese or truffle fries, and it’s ready for showtime.⠀

However, in practice, it definitely did not go according to plan. The scintillatingly savoury & tender beef brisket was so maddeningly moist & saucy that the bottom bun was disintegrating on its own. The protective barrier that was supposed to be the lettuce was definitively breached by the deluge of glorious gravy from the brisket, and the bun was absolutely no match. Another persistent problem was the lack of a backstop. Every time I took a gargantuan gnaw of the tasty burger, a cascade of brisket would blow out her back.⠀

Forget the knife, this is definitely a fork & spoon affair. Unless Ashes manage to find a way to fortify the burger buns from the onslaught of the saucy beef, this burger is probably better when deconstructed into its delicious components. Perhaps stuffing it all into a bun that isn’t sliced all the way through is a start, so that there’s a burger pocket to trap all the brisket that’s attempting a prison break from my jaw.

Still undeniably unctuous though, and it’s a hell of a tasty burger in my books.

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Alcohol may not be good for my body, but my body is good for alcohol.

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