Obviously Incomplete Non-definitive Hit List of Beef Burgers in Singapore
It would be impossible to discuss the “best of” anything without first setting out the criteria by which one might make one’s decision.
Let us first assume that a burger means:
Then let us assume that the quality of a burger can be judged by: (i) the quality of each burger component; and (ii) how the components work together to create the whole burger experience. Determination of such quality and harmony would really mostly a matter of personal preference. For the two constants in any burger, I reckon I might prefer:
- a bun that is fresh, flavourful, fine-crumbed, toasted and thinly lubricated with good butter or mayo spread, with nice in-mouth texture (soft but not cottony, nor soggy when paired with rest of ingredients, nor hard enough to cause abrasions to the roof of your mouth), and
- a beef patty that is optimally-shaped, well-seasoned, well-seared 100% tasty blend of different sorts of ground beef, juicy with very slight crust.
There is also the issue of height: if a burger is too tall, it would difficult to take a bite of the whole thing without wrenching the jaw. Heston Blumenthal is quite right to extol the virtues of a burger small enough to eat with your hands.
Haven’t quite found a burger in Singapore to be very keen on though. Perhaps those years as a pescetarian* have rendered the relevant receptors quite sensitive to the taste of animal flesh so that much locally-available chicken, pork, beef and lamb is off-puttingly smelly, bringing to mind the image of a decaying carcass rather than edible meat; perhaps there is an unconscious dislike for mince, post-Fargo wood-chipper. Perhaps. But the common issue seems more to be of bland taste rather than foul smells.
(*later abandoned because it would be absurd to think myself holier than God. If he, the Creator, gave all living things for food for humans (“Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.” (Genesis 9:3)), who was i to then to call evil what God said was good?)
Regardless, thought I should make a list of burgers tried for reference. It’s hard to know what exactly I tasted because few places seem to understand the importance of details beyond “100% Australian beef” and “special home-made [insert condiment or topping]”. Like any other food or drink (think wine, coffee), it would be really exciting to understand how certain parts of a cow, certain cows (grass-fed or grain-fed? etc), the density of the mince, the shape of the patties, the seasoning, when the seasoning is applied, the method of cooking (grilling, broiling, steam griddling) etc all contribute to a tasty patty, and so help constantly improve burger standards and allow customers to know what to expect before ordering (after all, few customers would ask for “Australian wine” without first enquiring about grape variety at least).
Bar Bar Black Sheep, Smok’Inn Frogz Kitchen
879 Cherry Avenue
86 Robertson Quay, #01-04 Robertson Blue
55 Boat Quay
Bergs Gourmet Burger
137 Amoy Street, #01-01 Far East Square
The Crikey Two burger is made up of “Prime Beef Pattie, Streaky Bacon, Pineapple, Beetroot, Lettuce, Tomato, Red Onion, Aioli, Bergs Sauce & Edam Cheese”. Will tell them to hold the Bergs Sauce next time because the smoky sweet barbecue sauce overwhelmed the taste of everything else. The house-made buns from their own factory was made with less sugar than usual and might been a good companion to the nice patty (it had bite but was loose enough to be juicy), and the beetroot and pineapple slice might have lent some variation to the texture of the burger…but it was hard to taste much beyond the Bergs Sauce.
Big Bad Wolf
The waitresses were very attentive. Root beer float was a nice beverage to wash down the burger comprised of “homemade brioche buns” and patties topped with caramelised onions, tomato relish, aioli. The Works Burger had the works (egg, mushroom, cheese, bacon) but though these were stacked one atop another, they didn’t quite integrate.
One of the first ang moh-run places to feature burgers in the heartlands – like Jerry’s many incarnations (Jerry’s,BBQ & Grill, Buckaroo BBQ & Grill, Sunset Grill) and Charlie’s in Changi. Better than the usual “Western Food” stall in coffeeshops, though not a destination dining place.
Yes it’s fast-food but it would be nice to see the patty of the mushroom swiss burger without having to pry open the soggy buns for a peer in at the “100% flame-grilled beef”.
559 Bukit Timah Road, #01-01 King’s Arcade
The Burger Shack is targetted at its existing Island Creamery student customers. The tiered system where you pay for each additional topping to the basic burger helps them regulate their pocket money (or save some for Starbucks at Coronation Plaza). I thought the buns and patties dry and bland but the burgers certainly serve to fill teenage tummies.
Portobello Mushroom Thickburger® – Charbroiled 100% Angus Beef Patty, Portobello Mushrooms, Two Slices of Swiss Cheese, Red Onion, Lettuce, Two Slices of Tomato and Mayonnaise on a Toasted Sesame Seed Bun
Top of the fastfood burger joint pile. But you’ll need to order the thickburger for a decent-sized patty. The beef itself is pretty bland but the slide down the oesophagus is assisted by the myriad condiments. Height is a bit of an issue and it’s gonna get messy (good job selling this as desirable in a burger). You may ask for disposable utensils to aid dispatch of the burgers.
dB Bistro Moderne
Post-Buena Vista Social Club nosh. Being both Singaporeans, we were talking about the defunct Uberburger while waiting for our supper. Unfortunately, when they arrived, both basic Yankee Burgers (“beef patty, Iceberg lettuce, tomato, onion, served on a sesame bun”), with patties done medium, were rather dry and flavourless. (David Koh appears to have had a similar experience with the Original dB Burger and suggests nothing more than medium rare.) I suspect the sort of thick patties in towering burgers that dB is famous for is really hard to cook right – if you tried to ensure that the interior was cooked, you’d risk overcooking the exterior; when you took the burger away from the heat, the thick exterior would continue to cook the interior.
De Burg (formerly Sunshine Cafe by a pool in Sommerville Park)
Blk 10 Ghim Moh Road, #01-78
A stall in a coffeeshop, so you can have your teh si kosong ping with your fries. A varied burger menu. Patties made from grassfed striploin are 100g or 200g, fairly juicy with good texture and slightly charred exterior. They are seasoned just before being griddled on a hotplate which explains why the mince is still loose and it still tastes like beef (not some indeterminate prepackaged meat from the freezer – think the differently delicious Ramly). Buns are also griddled and have slight char on the underside.
Riverside institution Epicurious at The Quayside does a good burger, helped along by the cool breeze (sometimes) and the fact that you can bring your child/pet along. The somewhat mushy beef patty contained bits of chopped onion and what looked like red bell peppers (or tomatoes?) and was well-seasoned, for S$4 more for all the fixings, you got crispy bacon, an egg (slightly rubbery underside from being cooked on a non-stick surface?), mushrooms, onions and melted cheese. The buns were buttered then toasted and so slightly crisp and fragrant. The underside of the patty was separated from the bottom bun by a thin layer of mayo and mustard. A very satisfying combination for Sunday brunch.
Fat Boy’s – The Burger Bar
187 Upper Thomson Road
Buns lightly buttered and put on the grill, so tasty. Patty was tender but texture was strangely almost mushy, without much bite. Perhaps too much fat in the meat or too small a mince size? But easy to eat without chewing much. The crushed pepper in the Bleu Peppercorn overwhelmed the rest of the burger, even the blue cheese .
“Vegetables are freshly picked from domestic farms, safe Aussie beef patties” and buns “made from pumpkin so they are natural yellow color”. The burgers are rather small and there wasn’t much in the way of taste either from the patties or the condiments or toppings.
252 North Bridge Road, #B1-65/66 Raffles City Shopping Centre
“The Handburger serves gourmet burgers crafted from the freshest and finest ingredients such as 150g 100% New Zealand grass-fed beef.” A member of The Soup Spoon family of restaurants, the paper-cut-out identity of the place by Couple design studio and the interior design by Plystudio was the main draw, but the burgers weren’t too shabby. Buns are made in-house and while shiny and sweet, were slightly overbaked and didn’t taste of caramelised onion. At least the cheese was melted over the patty in The Handburger Original (“grilled 100% NZ grass-fed prime beef”) but the “sweet onion jam” couldn’t help the slightly dry patty.
11 Unity Street #02-14 Robertson Walk
Jules Cafe Bar
15-1 Jalan Riang
Long Black Cafe at 20 Biopolis Way, #01-02 Centros Block – Biopolis. If you’re working at the Ministry of Education headquarters or at Biopolis for a seminar, the LB Burger (homemade patty with onions, tomato, lettuce, cheese) is a decent choice for lunch. The patty was well-seasoned with a hint of black pepper and its mushiness was offset by the char.
Hey, it’s iconic fastfood-looking fast food. But despite reassurances that 100% beef was used in the patty, the quarter-pounder with cheese still tasted rather plastic-ky. Well, there’s no way you can ensure consistency across the world/country if you don’t pre-season and prepackage your burger parts.
The patty in the Premium Wagyu Burger that was available only for a limited time was really tender or slippery or slimey, depending on whom you asked.
1 Fullerton Road #01-06 One Fullerton
Relish by Wild Rocket
501 Bukit Timah Road, #02-01 Cluny Court
1 Maju Ave, #02-07/09 myVillage, Serangoon Garden
At the myVillage outlet, the choice of toppings and beef patties made this a good place for a large group with differing tastes. The patty did actually come done medium with a warm pink interior. Buns were toasted but not buttered on the underside so the top half was discarded. Overall, the patties, toppings and condiments were well-balanced in taste and the beef was somewhat juicy, with a bit of crust. (This wasn’t the case at the Cluny Court branch so obviously very chef-dependent.)
51 Fairways Drive, Bukit Timah Saddle Club
Another non-offensive burger in a nice environment. Buns slightly soft, patty made of decent beef helped along by bacon (who cannot be helped along by bacon?). If you take a verandah seat, you can watch horses canter past (and when the wind changes, smell the stables).
Soho7 Café & Bistro (formerly. Swee is now at 7 Kickstart Brewiches)
50 Armenian Street, #01-02 Wilmer Place
Good burgers for a good price at fairly pleasant surroundings. The Best Ever burger was consistently juicy, and while height was an issue, the well-played condiments, including intriguing mustard seed aioli, balanced with the beef, made the whole quite delicious.
320 Tanglin Road Phoenix Park
587 Bukit Timah Road, #01-05 Coronation Plaza
11.30am – 10pm (Tuesday – Sunday)
Many others have tread this dead cow meat-strewn path before me (and with much nicer photos too):
Accidental Epicurean’s hunt for the best burgers
ieatishootipost’s various burger posts
ladyironchef – Singapore’s Best Burgers