Heads up, kids, there's a new burger joint in town and, with it, another heaven-sent reason to eat good food and feel good about it.
Honbo, a home-grown, grassroots burger restaurant headed by Michael Chan, stands out from others in the same playing field by harvesting from a whole different ballpark. From gathering their ingredients from farms in the New Territories to having their unique buns baked 15 minutes down the road from their shop location, the Honbo team put a heavy emphasis on their relationships with local farmers, brewers and artisans to ensure their support goes toward where it's needed most.
Tucked away in a quieter corner of Wanchai's dining hub Sun Street, the minimalist, white- and navy-coloured shopfront and interiors ooze coolness; they reminded us of the chic industrial trend that's sweeping the globe, unfailingly promising the rewards of finding a hip eatery if you just follow the exposed brickwork and weathered copper pipes (which, let's be honest, we're starting to consider overdone), but Honbo's own simplistic execution sits well with us. The mismatched chairs and communal bench seating add a refreshing touch. We especially liked the versatile swivel tables by the window that accommodate diners who want both an indoor and outdoor experience.
Their one-page menu stars the highly Instagrammable soft-shell crab burger ($118) and the daring scallop on bun ($128), featuring pan-seared XL scallop, pico de gallo and wasabi mizuna, as well as their signature Honbo burger ($98), classic burger ($88), cheeseburger ($98), vegan burger ($78) for our green friends and a breakfast burger ($68) for the early birds. It's safe to say that Honbo's got both your adventurous and more traditional sides covered.
Soft-shell crab burger
We sank our teeth into the highly beautiful, wacky soft-shell crab burger, but not before snapping a few effortlessly photogenic pics. While the soft-shell crab was delicate, flavourful and perfectly deep-fried without any residual oiliness, the coleslaw could have done with more of a kick, but its crunchiness and refreshing texture landed a hit with us. We wish the burger had come with more toppings though – just the crab and coleslaw left us feeling lacking.
The signature Honbo came slathered in a dressing that tasted uncannily similar to Big Mac sauce, but we're not complaining. Resplendent with two beef patties, homemade pickles (which you can also order as a side) and melted, gooey cheese, this burger will do the trick for your cravings. The crumbly, juicy patties spilled out the sides and kind of fell all over the tray while we were eating them, but we didn't mind making a mess. Honbo's signature potato milk buns, with their silky lightness, complement all the burger fillings very well, letting the rich toppings take the lead.
Our order of thick-cut sweet potato fries ($43), however, felt amiss. They were powdered in a liberal coating of sugar; the natural sweetness of the potatoes would have sufficed. Other than that, we quite liked the homemade feel of the hand-cut wedges, as well as the side of garlic chilli sauce that worked well to cut down on the sweetness.
Certainly on the costlier side of burgers, but we think the vibe and atmosphere of exclusivity are worth the price. There's an affordable wine list, as well as a good selection of artisan beers courtesy of Moonzen Brewery and sodas served only in bottles (yes, it does taste better). We also love the simplicity of Honbo's menu and their strong support for local agriculture and businesses. In the words of their bright red neon sign, we'll surely be back for 'one more bite'. Or three more, actually.
6–7 Sun Street, Wanchai, 2567 8970
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author's; she's so stubborn, it's not like you could tell her otherwise anyway.