Butcher – The Burger Bar

The Butcher Bar Classic 6/10 SGD $9.80

The Burger Bar is located inside The Patio, which bills itself as Singapore’s favourite Hawker bar.* While I am not sure if this is true, if you are in the North the trip to 1018 Sembawang Rd might be worth it.

Thankfully the Butcher Classic does not come built as it is shown on the menu and instead is built as such: bun, lettuce, tomato, mayo, meat, cheese, bbq sauce, bun. They list the sauce as their “special sauce” but it tasted like run of the mill bbq to me. It did not come with onion, though it was advertised as so, and was served with seasoned thick cut chips. The lettuce was an arugula salad mixed leaf salad and while tasty did not offer any barrier protection for the un-toasted bun, which at first glance seemed a little small to hold together until the last bite, unless you forsake the chips and devour the burger fast.(as I did) So be warned you need to eat this quick if you don’t want it to fall apart in your hands and wear it.

The patty was cooked through, with no discernible seasoning, however the addition of both mayo and bbq sauce helped avoid that dry burger taste** and kept it a juicy meal. The burger itself cost SGD $9.80 and the beer came in at SGD$7.00. And while this is not a bar/beer review, The Patio (the drink stall this Hawker Bar is named after) has a decent selection of beers ranging from SGD $7.00-9.00 for a standard bottle, or SGD $19.00 for 1 litre of Lownbrau. (they also have Guinness on tap, I think it was SGD $12.00) I know I said Smokin’ Joe was a little ulu when I reviewed its burger, but this place is even further North and while a 6/10 burger might not be worth the effort, if we were including beer offerings in the judging it would edge to a 7/10. It is also only a small side-trek off my usual journey home, which is a plus as a destination, but not in rating it’s burger.

Rating 6/10 for flavour, and $$ for price.

* Hawker bars have been in Singapore for a while, the first I can recall was Bar Bar Black Sheep on Cherry Lane from which various incantations have sprung up all over the island. In a nutshell, a Hawker Bar is a small Hawker Centre, usually only 4-5 stalls, one of which is a bar, they others usually favour Thai, Indian and Western (usually burgers) as their fare. They are usually awesome and well worth the visit.

** Think McDonalds Cheeseburger.

Smokin’ Joe

Smokin Joe Wagyu Beef Burger with cheese. 8/10 SGD $9.50

Smokin’ Joe is located within the Yishun Hawker Centre on the corner of Yishun Ave 11 and Yishun Ring Rd. (store #01-37)

This was my second burger here and the consistency across the two visits means this burger might become the baseline standard against which to measure cheeseburgers in Singapore.

The burger was well constructed and from the plate up consisted of bun, sauce (mayo), lettuce, tomato, 150g wagyu beef patty, cheese and bun. The cheese was an extra 0.50c added to their standard Wagyu Beef Burger, it does not come with onion (I did not ask if it could be added) and like most burgers served in Singapore was served with French Fries. Throw in a beer, this time it was a Singha at SGD $5.00 (a large Tiger at this Hawker is SGD $6.80) and you’ve got a very cheap and filling meal.

The patty remained tasty and juicy until the last bite, though it was a tad undercooked in the middle, and the tomato was ice cold having probably come straight from the fridge, which gave an interesting texture for the middle few bites. While the bun was not toasted it was both large enough and robust enough to survive the meal without leaking burger all over my hands while holding it, which is a huge tick in my plus column, as I like to eat a burger not wear it.* For the price this burger will be very hard to beat, even if the location of Smokin’ Joe is a little ulu for most people, it is definitely worth the public transport cost, and an excuse to explore the North.

Rating is 8/10 for flavour, and $ for price.

* NOTE: wearing the burger while trying to eat it is a real pet peeve of mine. A lot of it comes from burger places not toasting the buns and using a bun that is small and so shows off the fillings for photography. So while Thomo added a point for a bun that held together throughout the meal and I will too, I am also going to take away a point if the burger does not hold together and I end up with it running down my hands or slopping onto the plate.

Cheeseburger Rating Scale

Inspired by Thomo’s take on the Angeles Burgers, he and I set about creating a burger rating system. As a starting point we used the measure he had been applying, we just codified it a bit:

The burgers being sampled will be a standard cheeseburger – be that a menu item or a request for a burger with cheese added. Nothing special or additional and no comment on the chips or fries that come with it, or indeed if it is served with no fries.

The construction will be assessed (from the bottom up, bun, lettuce, tomato, beef patty (if it ain’t beef, it’s a sandwich), onion if caramelised, cheese, onion if raw, bun. That is a standard Mark I Cheeseburger. Pickles are an add-on, beetroot is mandatory* … however, as I am not in Australia I will give that a miss. The bun should be robust enough to hold together until the last mouthful, retaining as much burger juice as possible and while the burger may be delivered to the table deconstructed, it should not require deconstructing or the use of utensils other than fingers for eating. Lastly, accompaniment should be a cold beer.

* Given that I too am Australian and yet hate beetroot, I will give this a miss on principle. I also feel for each burger to be fairly judged it needs to be built with the same items. Thomo concurred with this, but the guy did love his beetroot.

Following in the comments of the above post I asked quite a few questions and Thomo responded with:

Hey mate, at the end of the day, it is the total flavour that counts. So, for example, the Envy burger has a great taste, even though one has to deconstruct it to eat the damned thing. I guess we could adopt a more scientific approach, say, starting at 5/10 then:

+1 seasoning in the patty
+1 construction (including height, i.e., can you get it in your gob in one go)
+1 juicy – is the burger meat moist, if you squeeze do you see a little flavour leaking out (OK, oil)
+1 the bun – is it dense enough to hold together until the end of the burger but at the same time, light and fluffy enough to be enjoyable eating
-1 cucumber or other unwanted items (I’ll forgive pickles but not cucumber)
-1 undercooked … read – burger tartar
-1 overcooked
+1 just a great eating experience – you know you will be back for another in a week or two’s time!

We decided Sauce or Mayo was optional…Thomo felt that if it came with sauce it was judged as such, and if it didn’t then it should stand on its own. The conversation then moved away from the Blog to Whatsapp, but we really only talked about how to use the above scale.

I do note that Thomo himself rarely gave a burger more than 7 or 8/10 and yet starting at 5/10 and using the above scale would easily see many burgers rated a 9 or even 10, which I think is not what he had in mind when he started this, but it is the scale I am going to run with and to quote the big fella,

“…at the end of the day, it is the total flavour that counts.”

Burgers of Singapore coming soon.