Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Hand Burger

What does the title make you think of? A burger with a hand in it?! A burger made of hand?? Certainly not a nommy image.. No no, THIS is The Hand Burger:

Just stopped by at The Hand Burger at 313 on Orchard before heading to watch The Lovely Bones at nearby Cineleisure. We were attracted by the cute graphics on the logo, as well as this:

Yes, that's right. Us Asians are suckers for a bargain.

This diner-style menu on the wall outside the restaurant was also a huge enticement, with burgers like tea-smoked duck, salmon confit, and sirloin tataki. Who could resist? Not me, that's for sure.

Great, clear signage, a recognisable brand-name and a well-lit interior full of happy patrons and bustling servers - this is what makes a restaurant's success snowball! Take note budding restauranteurs! Really, the seats inside were packed. Low, communal-style long tables created a crowded but cheerful atmosphere - clearly people were enjoying themselves in here!

The tiered menu and mini-meal menu. Each page of the menu has a beautiful description and picture of the burger. All of the beef burgers are made using 100% New Zealand beef!! NZ pride!!! Overall, the ingredients seem to be really high quality - hand-cut fries, fresh dory in the fish burger, jumbo-sized fresh prawns. Delish!

As well as interior design and exterior branding, service and place-setting also play a big part in immediate consumer perceptions of the brand or organisation. The large wooden platters and silver cutlery made a good impression on me - this type of high-cost inventory really shows a company's dedication to quality and the customer experience. These custom platters were really neat, and detailed right down to grooves for the cutlery to sit in when not in use.

We ordered some onion rings to start with - my favourite! These were great - hot and crispy, with a light batter and a ring of soft onion inside. The batter could have been seasoned a little more - it had the appearance of being well-seasoned, with flecks of pepper and chili visible to the naked eye, but they weren't quite salty enough for my taste. The dips more than made up for it though - a great thick aioli and a sweet tangy barbecue - this one in particular tasted housemade (and in fact is), with notes of worcestershire and chutney running through it, a really deep complex flavour.

Here's a close-up of those crunchy golden rings of pleasure - halo-effect applied!

Jonathan and I ordered drinks to accompany our meals.

This is Jonathan's Lemon-Lime Slushy. It had a great sweet-sour taste and was flecked with mint to become almost like a virgin mohito.

And this is my (decadent and waist-expanding) Peanut Butter and Banana Thickshake. It was a huge surprise when I took the first gulp - it tasted exactly as it was named - peanut butter, banana and vanilla icecream combining for a luscious sweet-but-slightly-salty mouthful. It was thick but not thick in the way that some thickshakes can be from too much icecream - the ratios in here were pretty much perfect. Sue-Anne commented that it could be served just a tiny bit colder, which is true, but still, it was pretty much sex in a beverage. Check out that beauty of a toasted marshmellow on top too!

Sue-Anne's first choice of the Portabello Mushroom Burger was already sold out for the night (at 8:30pm, it must be good!) so she ordered the Gumbo Prawn instead.

The burger was certainly pretty - presented open-lidded with a great range of colours. The prawns (6 of them to be precise) were fried and coated with a rich and tangy gumbo sauce, and were topped with a mild red-onion salsa. Nestled in amongst the salsa we even found some ikura (salmon roe). I doubt these would have made much contribution to the taste, but it was certainly impressive from an expensive-ingredient-wow-factor standpoint! Overall a very attractive burger with a delicious flavour to back that up.

Yes, this is the famous Hand Burger stuffed tomato! Again, presentation was excellent! Dripping with sauce and studded with sesame seeds, the tomato slices open to reveal a colourful mayo-less coleslaw! Sadly, I found the tomato somewhat lacking in flavour. It may be just because my tastebuds are more attuned to the sun-ripened vine tomatoes we have in New Zealand, but this one was slightly watery and, because it had been skinned, lacked that punchy texture tomatoes should have. The unidentifiable sauce was mild and did not contribute to the taste. The coleslaw saved the dish, however. It was crunchy and tasty - and it felt good to be getting some vegetables back in my system!

Here's a gratuitous photo of me about to tuck into some monstrous tower of taste.

Yes, my friends, this is The Works Burger. What you are here witnessing is as much a feat of structural engineering as it is of gastronomy. Stacked up on a toasted and buttered homemade burger bun are: fresh lettuce and tomato, a 180g New Zealand ribeye beef patty, sunny side up fried egg, onion rings, sauteed garlic mushrooms, housemade relish, housemade aioli and crispy bacon.

I was stunned when it first landed on the table. My first thoughts went to how to dismantle the beast. I ended up figuring that the best way was to unstack and lay out all the ingredients on my plate and then form each bite from these parts as I came to it. Oh, all excepting the bacon. That part went straight down my gullet :D

The autopsy shot. Let's get down to the nitty gritty. That hand-formed patty there was both a stand-out and a slight let-down. The beef had a great medium coarse grind and was not too densely-packed, allowing for a meaty mouth-feel without tasting too mealy. The flavour was EXCELLENT. Really really superb. I could almost taste the green grasses and fresh air of my homeland as the cow would have. The beefy flavour was meaty and complex as only grass-fed beef can be, and seasoned perfectly. My complaint would have to be that the patty was cooked to well-done. I know many people prefer their beef to be well-cooked, especially if it has just flown 6000 miles, but it was just slightly dried out from the extended cooking time. Maybe next time I'll try ordering it medium-rare and see what kind of face the waitress gives me.

The cheddar cheese was melted to a great gooey consistency into the top of the patty and added some good richness. The egg also provided a bit of fatty luxury, though was very thin.

The other flavours combined well with this beef-cheese-egg base. The onion rings provided crunch, and the garlic mushrooms were divine, coated in lots of crushed garlic. Add the same creamy aioli as before and some tangy, caramelised onion relish, and you've got a party in your mouth. A party full of people who get along really well together.

There is nothing left. And there oughtn't be! That's the smile of a guy who is immensely satisfied (and stuffed full!!!)

On our way out we spied these cupcakes on the counter. Don't know exactly what this one is made out of, but its so cute! We'll save it for another time!

And there definitely will be another time. As a burger-aficionado, the top quality ingredients and thoughtful, creative burger options here really impressed me. Even a burger with such standard composition as The Works Burger was pulled off with flair and obvious thought in the execution. I look forward to trying the Duck Confit Burger - A whole boneless confit duck leg IN A BURGER! You know you want it.


  1. you are an amazing food critic!

    it's funny, i thought i was reading a blog spot from another friend. and i was like, wow how did she find time to write about food? i didn't know she was THAT dedicated to food. woah she's reeeally dedicated...detailed pics! and she's using really intricate language.... wow. and then i thought - oh wow, most of the customers are asian! that's weird. (coz shes in melbourne). and then....OMG! that guy! isn't that raymond???? how come she knows raymond??? what a small world!! that IS raymond, right? and then i get to the bottom and realise.... it IS raymond !

    hahahahaha :)
    love the post....!!!! you have a gift.

  2. Hey Amy!

    Long time! Thanks for the comment :)

    You are so funny (and ditzy) sometimes haha!! I'm loving Singapore really really! Wish I had more time to food blog. More updates soon, I promise! And how's you?