Ah, burgers, a beautiful combination of meat, carbs, vegetables and sauce. The concept itself is undeniably simple, yet when executed properly, a humble hamburger is a gorgeous thing. It should have a medium/medium-rare patty, a tart sauce, pickles to cut through the richness of the beef, gooey grilled cheese and fresh vegetables for a touch of crispness. As long as you’ve got those bases covered, your burger is good to go. Anything more will simply obstruct its natural beauty. However, the motto ‘simple is best’ does not apply to Hong Kong. Restaurants here suffer from a compulsive need to constantly change or ‘upgrade’ classics that are fundamentally perfect, like the good ol’ burger. Sometimes innovation works, as evidenced by the fantastic burgers at The Butchers Club (oh the Wu Tang) and the sorely missed Double D; but oftentimes, innovation does not add anything to the dish and you end up wishing you were served the original. Here at Burger Home, this was sadly the case.
Burger Home is a small burger restaurant located in the back alleys of Wanchai. It is popular amongst office workers and attendants of the church nearby (in fact, it was a pastor who told me about this place during a sermon!) for it’s #foodporn-worthy burgers where the cheese is stuffed and cooked inside the patty. While the molten oozing cheese does create a bit of a spectacle, it also brings forth problems for the burger. In order to stop the cheese from seeping out while cooking, Burger Home’s patty is extremely tight. When cooked, this tightly packed patty becomes dense and hard. It lacked the succulence found in a great burger patty and was chewy rather than melting. The beef was also a bit too lean for my liking.
Another issue with the whole ‘cheese-inside-the-burger thing’ is that it makes the cheese taste one dimensional. By putting a slice of cheese on top of the patty, then flipping it so that it comes in direct contact with the stove, the cheese mops up the caramelised beef juices, which provides another level of flavour and oomph. Here, you get a thick, bright orange liquid inside your burger that strangely tastes of the nacho cheese sauce served in cinemas. While the burger does have a second piece of cheese on top of the patty, it was not properly melted and tasted lifeless, like it came from a packet. There were also issues with the bun and the sauce. The bun was crumbly and, after a few bites, fell apart into pieces and created a bit of a soggy mess. The sauce was sickly sweet and failed to provide the sharpness craved by a burger with a dense patty and two portions of cheese. The whole thing was too heavy, too cloying, too dense, and I wish I was served a simple, well-executed original instead.
There are positives: the patty, despite it’s shortcomings, tasted nice and remained juicy. Adding onions gave it another flavour and textural dimension. Prices are also reasonable, as you get a generous-sized melted cheeseburger for $52 (cheaper options begin at $37). The staff also deserve a special shout-out. They were attentive, friendly and tried their damnedest to fit everyone into the tiny stop. Here’s the thing. I really want to like Burger Home. I love seeing individual stores seeking to provide better, healthier and tastier alternatives to the rubbish served at the large multinational fast-food chains that pollute Hong Kong’s culinary landscape (I do have a soft spot for the fried chicken at Jollibee though), especially when they don’t charge cut-throat prices. Unfortunately, restaurants must be judged by the taste of their food, and Burger Home’s burgers did not taste very nice.
Shop 12, G/F, 51 Pao Woo Mansion, Cross Lane, Wanchai, 2575 1575