What with A&W making a comeback in 2018, McDonald’s announcing its locally-inspired menu leading up to National Day, and Three Buns on hipster-riddled Keong Saik Road having just unrolled new burger creations, comfort food is having a moment. Fair warning: things might get messy.
1. 25 Degrees’ XOXO Burger
From the city of stars to the sunny shores of Singapore, Los Angeles-born 25 Degrees (named after the temperature difference between a raw and well-done burger) has only been opened on Middle Road since February and it’s already looking to put a local twist on things. Late June, it launched its first collaboration with MasterChef Asia finalist Lennard Yeong who worked together with the burger and liquor bar’s sous chef Sam Chan to create the XOXO Burger ($14).
A delightful umami bomb with housemade XO sauce and shrimp paste patty paired with 25 Degrees’ classic turkey patty, the familiar cantonese XO sauce was chosen as a flavour to represent something Singaporeans grew up with. Double patties normally strike us as over-indulgent. And not in a good way. But thankfully the more mild and lean ground turkey patty complemented the combination, unlike the way that something like say, beef might have come across as overpowering. Topped with fresh, slightly bitter arugula, and kaffir lime mayonnaise gave a pleasantly acidic oomph. Sandwiched between pillowy butter-grilled brioche buns, the burger is served with crunchy pickled cucumber, butterhead lettuce, tomato and onions on the side. It’s available for a limited time only so plan your meat up before 31st August.
25 Degrees Burgers & Liquor Bar, 200 Middle Road, Singapore 188980; https://www.hotelgsingapore.com/dining/25-degrees
2. Atmosphere Bistro’s Lava Cheese Burger
Sun’s out, buns out! Escape to the east coast and enjoy a panoramic view at Atmosphere Bistro, which recently introduced a slew of fusion additions to the menu such as the Japanese-inspired mentaiko pulled pork burger ($24.80) and waffle burger ($21.80). But the novelty must-order is hands down its lava cheese burger ($24.80), a deep fried camembert cheese beef patty with grilled tomatoes, gherkins, wild rocket, caramelised onions, served with barbeque mayo and fries.
Juicy, flavourful and utterly satisfying, the patty is succulent and we thoroughly appreciated the earthy camembert oozing down on it. It’s the perfect recipe for a cheat day. Wash it down with one of the bistro's various visually-appealing Rainbow Teas ($8) made from butterfly pea flower tea sans artifical colouring. Sakura Calpis in particular piqued our interest with its medley of colours and if you’re an iced peach tea kind of lady, you probably won’t find it too sweet.
Atmosphere Bistro, #01-25/26/27, 920 East Coast Parkway, Singapore 449875; http://atmosphere-bistro.com.sg/
3. Common Chefs’ The 'Rich Man'
Nestled in the north in the quaint district of Sembawang, eight-month-old Common Chefs was built on a cafe meets bakery concept. Comfort food without the frills. Think: tater tots and shepherd’s pie. One for the weekend is July addition the ‘Rich Man’, a chorizo patty burger ($16). The imperial burger is layered with smoked cheddar, sauteed mushrooms, caramelised onions, and truffle mayo. Simple, scrumptious and reminscient of brunch food thanks to the touch of scrambled eggs. Drizzle the melted cheddar sauce (a cheddar, nacho cheese, and whipped cream concoction) over the burger for an Instagram-worthy shot.
Elsewhere on the menu are the hearty signature ‘Boss Burgers’, served with a choice of beef ($19), chicken ($18) or fish ($17), and fried eggs. Plus, you can up your sides game to truffle tater tots - finely seasoned and delivered with dip for a more distinctively musky aroma and garlicky taste.
Common Chefs, #01-13, 8 Jln Legundi, Singapore 759274; http://www.commonchefssg.com/
4. Angela May Food Chapters’ Red Curry Prawn Burger
You might have already heard that acclaimed culinary host and TV presenter Angela May opened the first restaurant under her name at Robinsons The Heeren in May. In support of locally-farmed herbs, vegetables and sustainable seafood, she’s driven to make healthy asian food dishes. Take for instance the red curry prawn burger ($22) - a steamed burger constructed using fluffy flax-crusted mantou buns, a light layer of laksa yogurt sauce, and a fresh and bright patty combination of fish and prawn with chilli, kaffir lime, Thai basil and coconut cream.
Burger cravings can sometimes go south when you overeat and feel gross afterwards. So much regret. Well in this case, we didn’t. The seafood patty itself was ingenious, reminding us of otak, but with nice big chunks of prawn to add a little bite to it. The sauce had just enough heat to satisfy a chilli-lover, yet it was flavourful and rich without getting too heavy. Keeping things healthy, it was served alongside a side of unorthodox grilled edamame instead of the quintessential fries.
Angela May Food Chapters, Robinsons The Heeren #02-02, 260 Orchard Road, Singapore 238855; http://www.dhm.com.sg/angela-may/
5. FatPapas’ Country Fried Sheikh Burger
FatPapas just opened doors at its second outlet in Joo Chiat and we swung by to check it out. Co-owned by veteran rapper Sheikh Haikel, the burger joint’s inspired by homegrown Fatboys’ much-raved about creations, but tweaked using halal ingredients for Muslim diners.
Upon asking for recommendations, the staff immediately let us in on Sheikh Haikel’s personal favourite, the off-the-menu Country Fried Sheikh Burger ($20). It’s a massive burger version of the crispy herb seasoning-coated country fried steak and cheesy bechamel sauce, with turkey bacon, and of course, fries. Those without a penchant for the American breaded cutlet dish might find it a tad on the dry side but we reckon that pairing it with a milkshake would make all the difference. The crowd at its first outlet in Bali Lane is one to beat so don’t say we bo jio before word gets around. Heads up: go hungry.
FatPapas, 465 Joo Chiat Road Singapore 427677; https://www.fatpapas.sg/
6. Wolf Burger’s Tofu Miso Vegetarian Burger
For those who seek burgers as comfort food, Wolf Burgers’ selection are fast becoming firm favourites. Among our top picks is the 24 hour miso marinated tofu with fresh avocado slices, apple cider vinegar crunchy slaw, lettuce, and tomatoes ($9.90), which can be found at the first standalone outlet at Changi City Point. Honest, unpretentious, and real ingredients. What you see is what you get.
Beef patties like that in the lip-smacking magic shroomz burger ($10.90) are usually cooked medium, because it best brings out an even char-grilled flavour. Tailoring to the working crowd who frequent the area, the team has also begun experimenting with low-carb alternatives like pairing salad and wrap with the patties instead of buns. Burger aficionado or not, it's hardly staple food material. No stranger to spotting a gap in the market Wolf Burgers initially stepped foot on the scene when options essentially consisted of fast food McDonalds and avant garde choices. Brownie points to these guys for not slapping on prices that would burn holes in our pockets.
Wolf Burgers, Changi City Point, #14-03,5 Changi Business Central 1, Singapore 486038; https://www.wolfburgers.com/
7. Three Buns' Watermelon Man
Sitting in the whimsical and eclectic Potato Head building, Three Buns welcomes two new burgers alongside its rice bowl introductions mid-July. First up is the Watermelon Man, a juice burger combination of garlic, chilli and anise that has been compressed into a slice of grilled watermelon. It also comes with a perfectly flame-licked 150g Black Angus beef patty, Italian Quader de Carva goat’s cheese (gorgeously runny in room temperature), pickled onions and Three Islands Mayo. From the garlic and sugar syrup-marinated watermelon (later charred with vanilla salt) to the dollops of smoky ketchup and hot sauce to go with the fries, everything is made in-house. Just like the Herbie Hancock song of the same name, there's a bursting sweetness and piquancy in the medley, and it's refreshing in our eternal summer weather.
Another newcomer is Fun Boys Three, an ode to the mushroom Swiss, which stacks a juicy beef patty with smoked Applewood cheddar, roasted Portobello mushrooms, garlic-miso butter and truffle aioli in a toasted demi-brioche bun. Collaborations with other restaurant chefs (think the kitchen craftsmen of Burnt Ends and Bird Bird) are in the works and likely to kick off over the next few months. We live in exciting times.
Three Buns, 36 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089143; http://www.threebuns.com/