Friday, May 22, 2009

Best of Hong Kong: Burgers

I was away in Hong Kong in April and armed with the Hong Kong's hungrygowhere website, U-magazine (a food and travel guide), suggestions from Candice and Chiara as well as from and , and of cos a fantastic food buddy (thanks Kelly for the wonderful gastronomic memories!) I was so ready to eat out everyday (yes and do no cooking =P) and try out all the street food in Hong Kong.

Starting with the burgers - there are many burger chains not seen in Singapore - like Triple O's (from Canada), Freshness Burger - but there were also local burger shops like Pro Burger and 時新快餐店(Si Sun Fast Food) which we really liked.

Burgers ranked from the good to the not so good.

And yes trying out this many burgers means we ate burgers almost every other day and sometimes lunch and dinner in the same day...shiok!

First up, Pro Burger (83 Wellington Street, Central). If you had to try one burger in Hong Kong, this is IT! The reviews are here..

This was consistently on the Top 10 ranks of openrice so of cos we had to make our way to this burger wonderland. It is a tiny long-ish shop in the wall - the kitchen and staff counter is about as small as the seating area which consists of about 12 bar seats. When we went, it was during a weekday lunch hour, and this place is in a prime business district - so you can imagine the crowds ordering and waiting for the burgers. We were lucky to snag a seat (but we were hovering behind a couple too =P). Of cos we came out smelling of grease and burger (and plenty of burger memories - yes the smell does help us remember)

Only 6 burgers are available. The beef patty is a whooping 180 grams of 100 % Angus Beef!

Check out my Angus Cheese burger. The set meal is about 10 SGD (with potato wedges and a soft drink with free lemon).
The beef patty was superbly chargrilled, and had this smokey taste to the beef. It was thick and meaty, perfectly marinated with black pepper and in between two perfectly toasted sesame buns, it did not need those fancy sauces (only simple mayonaise) to mask this fantastic patty. It is a gourmet burger at an affordable price - I've yet to come across a burger (anywhere, much less in Singapore) that is as good as this.

One gripe was that the burger was perhaps not bursting with meat juices and a tad dry. But well, I'm still lovin it!
Comes with a side of freshly fried wedges - the potato chunks were not too thick and had this crisp batter - so even Kelly who usually shuns wedges liked this too. Oh yes I must mention the spicy dressing that comes with it - its this orange spicy mayonaise that was really tangy and tasty! When you come to Hong Kong, very few fast food places have chilli sauces (except for the garlic chilli sauce in McD's which they are very STINGY with) - the most they have is Tebasco.

Kelly opted for the full works - with the bacon. She really liked this burger too, except for the soggy bacon.

The following place is not a burger place, but the actual burger place we were aiming for is so out of the place that without the help of the staff at Ireland's Potato (Hung Hom) writing the actual address for us - and subsequently us showing the taxi driver that slip of paper, we 'd have failed miserably in our burger pilgrimage
This is the second Ireland's Potato Outlet, we saw the first in Mungkok and we tried their pizza flavoured fries there. They are a fries and fried food specialist - with mind Boggling sauces like yoghurt!
This is our fried mozzarella cheese sticks - it was very nicely breaded and the cheese was piping hot and very chewy. Kelly didn't quite like it (she likes melted cheese not coagulated ones) but I like anything with cheese. Reminds me of those days when we toasted bread with mozzarella (toasted altogether, hence melting the cheese)

I dug up our pictures of the outlet in Mongkok so you get what I mean when they come up with many permutations of fried stuffs and their sauces...

Pizza fries came piping hot (reminds me abit of Yella Fellas in Singapore) - topped with sour cream and pasta sauce. Could do with some cheese though.

This was quite a disaster cos not long after this photo was taken our fries collapsed !! But we still had half left, leaving us plenty of stomach space to try all the other street food..

Okay moving away from fries paradise and back to burgers.. Yeah so if you remembered our little story, we flagged a cab from Hung Hom to this small, crowded, dim-signboarded place called 時新快餐店(Si Sun Fast Food). People outside were waiting for the burgers (they didnt want to wait inside cos 1. it was packed 2. you'd come out smelling like burgers)
This was actually behind the counter. Yes, the reason why you'd smell of burgers after you have your meal inside. Uncle was multi-tasking - flipping patties, frying eggs, toasting buns. They fry the fries inside the kitchen
The burger fans and the menu in chinese behind
Say hello to the greasiest burger I've eaten - Double Cheeseburger with fried egg.

The recommended sauce was salad sauce - which we assumed it was mayonaise - there's the option of black pepper etc..

The meat patty was rather flimpsy and thin- plenty of minced beef and grease! - not quite your gourmet burger thick and beefy kind - but you get bang for your buck - the entire set meal was about 6 bucks. And it was especially tasty after the difficult journey there

Fries freshly fried and are exactly the type that I eat at home - the Farmland brand.
Next up is the juiciest burger I found at Freshness Burger (New Town Plaza, Shatin)

This was the classic cheeseburger. Check out how tall my burger, thanks to the thick meat patty!
Juicy meat patty!
The potato wedges were not as freshly fried as I hoped it would be...should have sent it back..
On the other hand, Kelly's crinkle cut fries were piping hot ! Onion rings had whole onions in them and were as huge as the brewerkz one - but the batter was much lighter and hence crispier.
Triple O's (New Town Plaza, Shatin) was the first burger joint we tried - this was recommended in the U-Magazine food guide. This is a burger chain from Canada.
The set meal with huge chunky fries costs about 11 bucks.
The pickle is presented right on top of the toasted bun..kinda strange no?
This is the inside of the Mushrooms Swiss burger - This has gotta be the healthiest burger I've tried simply because its not greasy at all ! It's a very simple, clean-tasting burger - but what's a burger without all the grease and sauce? But the meat patty was quite solid, so despite the lack of oil and sauces, it still tasted good but totally satisfying for the die-hard burger fan.
The thick chunky layer of mushrooms puts Burger King's Mushrooms Swiss to shame.
We love the huge onion rings as well.

Next we come to FatBurger. Technically, this isn't in Hong Kong - this is inside the food court of The Venetian, Macau. Kelly had a Portuguese Seafood soup in a bread bowl from another stall but I simply cant ignore the lure of a burger.

Its kinda like a Subway concept - the burger preparation takes place at the counter and you can tell the chef what you want more or less in your burger.

My side of onion rings was quite a highlight, actually. We were so miserable from the non-stop rain in Macau that we overdosed on McDonalds when we were waiting for the rain to stop - my shoes were so drenched and it is the most disgusting thing to have soggy shoes. Ok this is most unappetising but you can see why I thought a burger might be the most uplifting during difficult times.
The Fatburger wasn't as great as I expected it to be, the burger was kinda like Triple O's - a good fresh lean beef patty with not much sauces and grease.

Next is this tiny shop at the corner of Central - Shake em buns. Its got a whacky name and many whackier signs - its a real quaint place to chill, if you ask me.

Even their menu listing has such interesting names, if you can zoom in to take a look
They are famous for their mini burgers so we tried the Mushrooms Lovers- Magical Mushrooms (Creamy mushroom sauce and cream cheese), Tokyo Drip (Teriyaki sauce and mixed mushrooms) and Guitar Shop special (peppers, onions, mushrooms and cheese)

It tasted all almost the same to me actually - they are not very distinct from each other unless you make a conscious effort to refer to the menu to know what burger you are actually trying from the individual ingredients.

I realise mini burgers are not really for me (think the mini sliders from House). I ended up eating the burgers layer by layer - not heartily wolfing down my burger whole. I guess this is perfect for those with a quaint appetite and for ladies who wanna eat with some....form of decorum!
All our food! Kelly ordered the same burgers as me. We ordered 2 more sides - the poutine fries and the fried mac and cheese.
After I read about the Poutine fries from Yella Fellas in Singapore , I was dying to try them but I haven't had the chance to yet - so I tried the version here and didn't quite take a liking to it - this is fries with homemade (usually beef) gravy and mozzarella cheese. The gravy tasted kinda strange -not bursting with chunks of minced beef (maybe its not supposed to) and the cheese already coagulated when left to cool so it wasn't great to us.
What was truly great was the fried Mac and cheese.
The tiny macaronis in creamy cheddar cheese encased in crisp hot batter was the best part of our meal.

Now i must go and try the one in Fromage, at Clementi.
Archie B's was actually featured in Time Magazine. An expat couldn't find authentic sandwich delis in Hong Kong and thus Archie B's was born.
This is not a burger place but the sandwich is so awesome I must write about it.

And lets not forget burgers are essentially sandwiches.. A rather unhealthy sandwich that is.
We like the vibe of this place cos the interiors was dim, and it has a very nostalgic feel - all the old drink cans and snapple bottles, jazz music in the background. I was so happy to be enjoying my meal with my best friend here on a rainy afternoon.
Big Beef and Cheddar - Prime roast beef with cheddar cheese, onions, tomatoes, horseradish mayo
This has gotta be the best sandwich I've eaten in my life. Check out the endless layers of roast beef! Puts Subway to shame.
The chilli cheese fries were awesome as well - there was plenty of minced beef in the chilli oil sauce and they were super generous with the sauce - they obliged when we asked them for more-twice
And I found the ultimate diet soft drink - this diet root beer tastes so similar to the original version we thought they might have repackaged the same thing to fool us !

After a tiring day to Disneyland we were craving burgers (but Monster Burger was closed!! so we never gotta try it) so we settled for Hot Dog (Central). This is the perfect place to people watch cos its at the bottom of the hill leading to Lan Kwai Fong (which is the clubbing district of HK) and the place where we sat at was a counter where we were looking out to passerbys. So much for the people watching - we met Guanhong again here (we saw him when we were queuing at Disneyland to take pictures with Snow White)
This was Kelly's cheese dog.

This was my Big dog - 9 inches of beef sausage. I like it that the sausage is longer than the bread!
The piping hot chunky fries were delicious too.

The lamb kebab wrap had chunks of lamb meat and stewed vegetables - we suspect it was from a sister joint though.

Next we move on to the chain fast food stores also found in Singapore....MOS Burger. Now this outlet at New Town Plaza, Shatin also has a see-through kitchen so you can see my burger being made!
This is the Teriyaki Burger with Avocado. I thoroughly enjoyed this juicy burger as well, the teriyaki sauce was fantastic. I donated the avocados to Kelly - I only liked the creamy avocado parts, not the whole avocado itself - so I like avocado milkshakes, guacamole - just not the fruit itself. I took a chance and thought it might be like guacomole (ground avocado sauce) but they were overly generous with the many slices of avocado fruit.

The similar meal in a basket...This is my second burger of the day, by the way. Earlier for lunch, I had the Freshness Burger featured earlier. Kelly was wiser, chosing a japanese pancake-noodles for dinner - I can imagine the LDL congestion in my circulation...

And of cos, who can forget the Golden Arches...this is the Mcdonald's at Cityone - very near our hostel - of cos there were numerous after-meal fries and ice cream treats - after which we had more zidanzai or waffles round the corner.. This is the supper menu by the way, it switched to this just when i took out my camera and the difference is that they offer the double burgers late at night - double fillet o fish etc. Who eats doubles at night???

Big and Tasty
The anatomy of the Big and Tasty
The first best thing that the Macs in HK has is the Double Sundae - the bottom layer is strawberry and the top layer is chocolate (you can choose the same flavour for both layers if you so wish) and is topped with plenty of nuts. I love it! The nuts make alot of diffence, especially when coated with the strawberry puree and chocolate sauce. Dip in your fries for a sweet, salty, sour, crunchy and crisp taste! (i'm sure you can figure out which component of the sundae/fries combi contributes to which adjective)
On another occasion, I tried the Grilled Chicken sandwich which was really good - I wish this was offered in Singapore. It is a huge long slab of tender chicken thigh meat in an extremely tasty sauce.
Kelly went for the McCrispy..

The next best thing here in the HK McD's is the Taro Pie. This meal was our first at McDonald's (Mungkok)
Chunks of smooth yam in a crisp hot pie both of us really like this!
And this late night dessert was accompanied by Shaker fries - you can choose from the seasoning of BBQ, Sichuan Pepper etc.
The third best thing about the Macs here is that the chicken nuggets come with a honey mustard sauce thats really good! But you are only entitled to one packet per order, and only with McNuggets. Had this meal at the Central pier before departing to Macau - yes the day I had FatBurger and many many fries at the Macs at Macau too..
When we were in Shenzhen, of cos we had to try the McDonald's there as well. This outlet was in Dongmen, Shenzhen.
I couldnt exactly remember the name of this burger but this was the first time I was eating a burger with cucumbers in it...otherwise it was like a Big and Tasty
Kelly went for the fried chicken burger - it was different in that the chicken patty was fried minced chicken - unlike the fried chicken thigh in Mc Crispy. The orange salad sauce was similar to that in my beef burger and there was plenty of coleslaw salad vegetables.
And this is the very yummy Yam icecream I ate! I love this soft serve, and I haven't eaten a flavour in a soft serve before. We should lobby for the flavours available only in China like yam and honeydew!
And I'm gonna round off my burger special with some pictures from the Happy Valley Racecourse.. Horseracing is gamblers' paradise in HK, do you see how spectacularly grand the racecourse is?
And what has race-horsing has to do with fast food, or McDonald's?

Thats cos the McDonald's (Happy Valley Racecourse) has interesting auspicious names tagged to their burgers!! Have fun zooming into the picture to check out what windfall might come your way if you are blessed with these burgers!