There’s no stopping the popularity of the humble hamburger as these new purveyors will attest.
You would think with restaurants that run the gamut from McDonald’s and Burger King, to higher end Omakase and Burger Joint, Fat Boys and Potato Head, burger restaurants in Singapore have reached saturation point. Quite the contrary, new burger entrants seem to keep popping up every month. Whether at humble kopitiams or hawker centres, or hotels and shopping malls, Singapore can’t seem to get enough of this hearty sandwich in its many forms.
25 Degrees Burgers Wine & Liquor Bar
One of the latest to join the fray is 25 Degrees Burgers Wine & Liquor Bar. This Hollywood import first opened at the Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles in 2005, and quickly made its name as a pioneer premium burger restaurant by using high-end ingredients and providing restaurant service. Its Singapore outpost is no different. Located in the new Hotel G Singapore at Middle Road, 25 Degrees has a compact a la carte menu of burgers which are simply numbered rather than named.
The Number One satisfies on all counts: a sturdy brioche bun made from organic flour, a thick 200g patty made of US Angus sirloin and chuck roll, and a bevy of other good things that imbue the burger with delicious umami. These include soft, tangy crescenza cheese, sweet caramelised onions, earthy gorgonzola, blistered bacon, bitter rocket leaves and a nicely tart Thousand Island dressing.
Also popular is its Craft Your Own option that lets guests customise their burger. Choose your patty made from a selection of meats (ground sirloin, turkey, yellowfin tuna) or a vegetarian option, and pile on your choice of sauces, cheeses, and extras like caramelised onions, roasted red peppers, Canadian bacon and fried eggs.
200 Middle Road. Tel: 6809 7990
Meanwhile, humble burger stalls in coffeeshops and hawker centres are drawing their own enthusiastic following.
At Brunners Coffeeshop in the heart of Katong, young duo Silas Lee and Desmond Yong of Corner Burger are serving extremely affordable burgers featuring traditional Asian flavours. Their offerings include a $13 wagyu burger and an $8 tonkatsu burger featuring a pork patty marinated in fu yu (fermented tofu), coated in Japanese breadcrumbs and deep-fried.
On weekends, the stall gets busy thanks particularly to congregation members from the nearby Church of the Holy Family who come for their burger fix: luncheon meat burgers with a perfectly fried sunny-side-up egg, addictive wagyu burgers made from Australian wagyu chuck and sirloin, and even an otak burger—all of which are served between crisp-edged brioche buns.
228 East Coast Road. Tel: 9827 4562
Until very recently, a group of young men were serving $7 cheeseburgers at a hawker stall in Pek Kio Market near Owen Road. Called Grit, the stall was run by 26-year-old chef Kieran Chan and his partners, and featured an alluring menu that included a $17 beef foie gras burger and a $14 rump cap steak. (Grit is in the midst of moving to a new location, and will reopen again soon.)
Chan had worked brief stints at Singapore’s Tippling Club and Momofuku Ssam Bar in New York a while ago. After graduating from university with a degree in finance, he received an offer to start Grit and grabbed it. “With a hawker stall, the risk is much lower than if we’d opened a restaurant,” he said. No doubt, with its lower overheads, a stall set-up is a great way to test a concept’s feasibility—which is what the folks behind Wolf Burger did.
Beginning life as a stall in PasarBella in Suntec City, it recently opened its first full-fledged Wolf Burgers restaurant at Changi City Point. Besides signatures like The Wolf Burger, a no-frills number layered with a single beef patty, American cheese and sautéed onions, chef-owner Sarah Lin has added new options for non-beef eaters.
These include a grilled lemongrass chicken burger seasoned with fresh coriander and slicked with sriracha mayo, and a fish burger comprising tempura-battered fish fillet topped with homemade wasabi mayo.
#01-43 Changi City Point 5, Changi Business Park Central 1. Tel: 9384 7096
Teppanyaki Hamburg Nihonbashi Keisuke Bettei
The burger has crossed cultures in its evolution. The Japanese, for instance, have long adopted it and come up with their own version, called “hamburg” (pronounced the Japanese way: “ham-bah-gu” ) “Every Japanese family has their own recipe for hamburg,” said chef Keisuke Takeda, who recently opened Teppanyaki Hamburg Nihonbashi Keisuke Bettei in bustling Tanjong Pagar.
The restaurant offers just two set menus: a prime beef hamburg set comprising a 150g patty, and the triple cheese prime beef hamburg set that features a 180g patty with cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Both patties are made using prime US beef shoulder minced in two sizes, that when mixed together, produces what chef Takeda deems the “optimum bite and texture”.
Unlike their Western counterparts, these hamburgs are served with a bowl of Japanese rice, as opposed to buns. Diners also get unlimited helpings at the impressive salad bar that heaves with everything from noodle and pasta salads, fresh vegetables and eggs cooked various ways with each set meal.
With both sets costing no more than $21, it’s no wonder there’s a constant queue of hungry diners at Teppanyaki Hamburg during peak hours.
72 Peck Seah Street. Tel: 6908 4348
Certainly, there seems to be no slowing down when it comes to the hamburger’s popularity, with a steady flow of new contenders coming into the market to keep burger lovers sated.
Cover: Wolf Burgers
This was first published in Wine & Dine’s June 2017 issue, ‘Burgers Be Good’.