Even if you haven’t yet stepped into the latest crowning glory of Singapore’s urban malls, we bet you already know how Jewel Changi Airport looks like, indoor waterfall and all. Yes, it’s been quite the talk of the town lately, and along with those fanatic mutterings, so is the insanely popular Shake Shack, a fine casual restaurant dedicated to burgers, shakes and fries.
Indeed, we can vouch for their delectable ShackBurgers (that secret sauce!) and their cheese fries. The queues are less savoury though. I queued on an average Monday evening — it took 1.5 hours to get food on my table. Not everyone has that same commitment (or perhaps, an unwise allocation of time), so you’ll be glad to know that, guess what, other burger joints exist too!
In recent years, there has been a renaissance of restaurants dedicated to a mean cheeseburger. Some of these are overseas imports, while others are homegrown brands — just know that they serve well-made, gourmet burgers, with quality ingredients that fare better than say, the golden arches, though of course, at a price. Burgers range from $9.90 to over $20, and that’s not counting the sides. However, you can expect ingredients such as freshly-ground USDA prime beef or brioche buns that make all the difference.
And while Shake Shack has a more modest menu, some of these places can get innovative — whether it’s peppercorn-encrusted patties, truffled mushrooms, or sky-high patties that do just enough to elevate your tastebuds without venturing too far from a good old sloppy cheeseburger. Here are the best of them:
Burgers can be messy business, and at Three Buns, they’re telling you straight-up to get your hands dirty… with some fine buns too. What makes them so “fine”? Creative, tasty flavours built on a foundation of solid ingredients. Take this from chef Adam Penny himself: “95% of our menu is handmade, so we control exactly what goes into each burger, no other sh*t.” Indeed, there’s a lot of emphasis placed on quality ingredients, whether it’s prime Black Angus beef from Australia, premium cheeses, locally sourced artisan buns, or housemade sauces, pickles and garnishes.
You might have heard of the establishment when it was housed at Potato Head Folk at Keong Saik, which too holds a cocktail club amid its quirky decor, though since then, Three Buns has also expanded to its first standalone location at Robertson Quay. Here, you’ll find crowd favourites such as the deceptively simple Baby Huey, which pulls together a 150g Black Angus beef patty, ketchup, cheese, pickles and spiced mayo in a toasted demi brioche bun. Bun DMC is more than just a witty play on words too — it differentiates itself with watermelon relish, bawang goreng, onion puree, cucumber & jalapeño pickle and Three Islands mayo, pushing it to be one of the outlet’s more sinful offerings. Nah, we’d still dig in.
TRY: Baby Huey ($17) ; Bun DMC ($16)
No frills but seriously good stuff, homegrown brand Wolf Burgers offers gourmet burgers at relatively affordable prices, starting at just $9.90. And no, you’re not supposed to compare them with any ordinary fast food chain. One bite in and you’ll know why — everything from the juicy well-seasoned Australian beef patties, freshly made in-house, to the soft buns that still hold their shape amid those tasty condiments, tell you that you’re getting way more than your typical binge (not judging!).
Since opening at PasarBella Suntec City in January 2016, and their subsequent expansion to Changi City Point, Wolf Burgers has gotten many fans raving — and going back again and again — thanks to well-crafted recipes and the consistency of their burgers, an important but difficult aspect to master as operations scale up. Oh, and if you’re wondering about the ‘Wolf’ in their name, it’s probably less to do with House Stark, and more to do with the rate at which we’re devouring these at; basically, we think it’s something you’d want to wolf down too.
TRY: Original Wolf ($9.90) ; Truffled Mushroom Beef ($10.90) ; Wagyu Beef ($14.90)
Location: Pasarbella @ Suntec City
3 Temasek Blvd, 455-456 / 459-461 Suntec City, Singapore 038983
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 9.30pm, Daily
Location: Changi City Point
#01-43, 5 Changi Business Park Central 1, Singapore 486038
Opening Hours: 8.30am – 9.30pm (Weekdays) ; 11.30am – 9.30pm (Weekends)
You’ve got to be passionate about burgers if you’re looking to create the best one, and true enough, the founders of Omakase Burger traversed across the United States in a bid to study the most authentic cheeseburgers, only to finally present their prized creation right here in Singapore. Needless to say, the American-style burgers at Omakase have been quite the hit since.
With melted cheese oozing over the sides of their smash-grilled beef patty, we’re already sold. What makes Omakase Burger even more charming, again, boils down to the ingredients — with some distinct differences. Here, there’s an emphasis on American produce, from the 100% USDA Choice Frade beef (that we’re told is a proprietary blend of 4 premium cuts), to the US-imported cheese and applewood smoked bacon from California. If you’re a burger perfectionist though, you’ll notice that even the choice of buns matter; we’re talking fluffy and buttery Potato Rolls, with a slightly sweet note that complements the succulent, seasoned meat. Definitely an A+ for effort!
Try: Omakase Cheeseburger ($16.90) ; Applewood Smoked Bacon Cheeseburger ($19.90) ; Baked Parmesan Chicken ($17.90)
Location: Picnic Food Park @ Wisma Atria
435 Orchard Road, #03-15, Wisma Atria, Singapore 238877
Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm, Daily
Fatboy’s The Burger Bar
How different can a burger be? According to the co-founders, brothers Kennie and Bernie Tay, at Fatboy’s, you can get 4,400 possible combinations, depending on how you’re choosing from their over 25 toppings, 11 sauces, and 4 types of buns and patties. Nobody can say they’ve tried them all — or at least, they’re definitely lying! Now that we’ve gotten the impressive math out of the way though, know that Fatboy’s offers more than just the cool customisation of the Build Your Own Burger menu. The key here is comfort food, the kind you can get messy with, in an environment that’s laidback enough they probably won’t judge if you rock up in slippers. (We think. )
Then again, the place doesn’t just serve your everyday neighbourhood burger — their offerings, even on the specialty burger menu, are extensive, ranging from beef patties topped with fried egg, onion strings and spam, to a pork burger stuffed with ingredients such as grilled bananas and peanut butter, which happens to pay homage to Elvis Presley’s strange food craving. There’s the classic with a twist — the old cheeseburger with a handcrafted beef patty, topped with aged cheddar — or imaginative creations that pack a punch, like the Blue Peppercorn Burger that combines a patty coated in crushed black pepper and some strong blue cheese dressing. It’s safe to say that you’ll definitely be, well, spoilt for choice. Not a bad thing at all.
Try: The Yolo ($18.50) ; shroom melt ($13.90) ; Bleu Peppercorn Burger ($13.50)
Location: 187 Upper Thomson Road Singapore 574335
Opening Hours: 4pm – 12am (Mon – Thurs) ; 12pm – 12am (Fri – Sun)
Location: Holland Village
29 Lorong Mambong Singapore 277689
For a burger joint that counts Kanye West and Pharrell Williams among its many mega fans, you know you’ve got a reputation to live up to. The Hollywood-famous US joint landed in Singapore to much fanfare, and looks very much like the quintessential American fast food outlet, with booth seats, yellow/red decor and hanging lamps, bathed in warm lighting that’s meant to welcome, not intimidate. What we found truly heartwarming though, is the brand’s rich history; look beyond its snazzy appearance and you’ll discover its humble beginnings as a three-stool hamburger stand on the West Coast, how founder Lovie Yancey hustled hard (before that became a thing), and committed to serving meals that are cooked to order and made with fresh ingredients and traditional cooking methods, even till this day.
Which brings us to the food. Fatburger’s menu is relatively unfussy — other than the Western BBQ or Veggie Burger, most people would go for the classic cheeseburger, loaded generously with lettuce, tomato, mayo, mustard, relish, onions and pickles. You can choose from a brioche or wholemeal bun, and opt for add-ons such as chilli or fried egg, and oh yes, choose up to 4 beef patties as well. Hungry/skilled eaters who manage to wolf down the gigantic Quad Burger can even see their picture up on the restaurant’s ‘Wall of Fame’. According to Fatburger, their patties are of the holy grail ratio of 80% ground chuck and 20% fat, done medium well, grilled on the spot — it’s that basic respect to quality and freshness that makes this prime fast food at its best. And really, burgers, fries, and milkshakes, what more can you ask for?
Try: The Fatburger — Original, Double, Triple, Quad ($7.90 – $19.90)
Location: Velocity @ Novena Square
#01-08/09, 238 Thomson Road, Singapore 307683
Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm, Daily
Depending on how you feel about speakeasy bars, you’ll either love or hate this concept. The New York City original has a name that’s oh-so-meta, and over at NYC, sends its customers on a treasure hunt, by keeping their site hidden within the swanky Le Parker Meridien hotel, guided only by a simple neon hamburger sign.
Here in Singapore, it’s quite the same. There’s something to be said of a restaurant that keeps its entrance tucked away on the back alley of Amoy Street, that satisfaction that once you’ve tracked it down, you’re suddenly privy to a secret you can now gleefully regale your friends with. Enter Burger Joint, and you’ll even find a velvet curtain, that pulls back into a warm space, half casual diner and half craft beer bar, that’s a mish-mash of graffiti-strewn wooden furniture. Then again, their burgers are definitely less polarising.
If we’re talking about the food, its draw is far simpler — the good, old fashioned American-style burger. You’ll find variations such as sriracha and maybe, ooh bacon — the audacity! — but seriously, the menu doesn’t deviate much from the original, and we’re grateful. An order of just the “basic” cheeseburger gives you a satisfying treat of beef on a toasted Arnold hamburger bun, with “the works” of lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, mustard, and ketchup. Expect mess — which we totally respect, since we consider it an essential part of the burger experience. Thing is, you’ll definitely walk away with one nagging thought: how on earth can they can make this uncomplicated order so lip-smackingly good?!
Back in NYC, executive chef Emile Castillo boils it down to this: “To be simple, to have a good burger, you need good, plain meat.” This burger joint uses Black Angus Nebraska beef shoulder clod that’s ground in-house daily. That, and what’s probably loads of kitchen experiments prior, is what makes this alluring “not-so-secret” diner stand out.
Try: Cheeseburger ($17.80) ; Jalapeño Cheeseburger ($18.80) ; Sriracha Cheeseburger ($18.80)
Location: 115 Amoy Street #01-03, Singapore 069935 (entrance at back on Gemmill Lane)
Opening Hours: 11.30am – 11pm (Mon – Wed) ; 11.30am – 12am (Thurs – Sat) ; 11.30am – 8pm (Sun)
All images from the Instagram accounts of the respective brands.
Featured on banner: Wolf Burgers, Omakase Burger, Fatburger