After spending last month seeking out Bangkok's best burgers, eating the equivalent of our body weight in beef (almost), and returning home each day smelling like a well-used grill, here we present the people and places
who blew our minds with their gourmet renditions of an all-American classic.
When it comes to serving delicious burgers, these great venues don't clown around...
Firehouse Pub & Restaurant
IF Bangkok’s specialist burger movement had a birthplace, Firehouse would probably be it. Opened three and a half years ago and named in honor of firefighters (the restaurant is uniquely decorated with what is surely the country’s largest collection of antique and vintage firefighter helmets), Firehouse was amongst the first restaurants in Bangkok to show diners here that burgers have gourmet credentials, and today it continues to receive heaps of praise for signature gems such as the Firehouse Burger (B330++) – featuring two 110g fresh-
ground beef patties on a double-decker bun, spicy jalapeño mayo, diced red onions, dill pickle slices, lettuce and Cheddar cheese – and BaconBlue Burger (B315++) – 180g fresh-ground beef smothered in rich blue cheese sauce and topped with bacon, grilled red onions and mayo. To make its burgers, Firehouse uses prime cuts of beef from The Pon Yang Kham livestock cooperatives, whose cattle is crossed with the finest French breeds, Charolais and Limosin. Patties are made fresh daily using three
Sukhumvit Soi 11 (opposite Q Bar) Tel 02 651 3643 www.firehousethailand.com
Sukhumvit Soi 36, midway between Sukhumvit Rd and Rama IV Rd (BTS Thonglor)
Tel: 02 661 3801 www.greatrib.com
Bangkok Burger Company
UNDER new management for the past three months, Bangkok Burger Company has undergone something of a taste revolution. Its once overlong menu has been replaced instead with a more carefully considered range of options – all made with 150g Australian Black Angus beef, no less – and Gabriel, the American expat in charge, is focused on delivering delicious burgers made with high quality ingredients. “We make our own mix in house and flavour it very simply to allow the natural flavours to come out,” he says, “and this is vastly superior to what we were selling in 2014 and earlier.” Other little tweaks include the use of
bacon from Bangkok butcher of the moment, Joe Sloane of Sloane’s Artisan, as well as the addition of grilled onions to some of the recipes and over 15 homemade sauces to choose from. The proof, as most chefs say, is in the pudding – well, burgers, in this case – and BBC’s The N.Y.C burger (B330++) is a tasty treat indeed, featuring house guacamole, bacon, rocket salad and sundried tomato mayo. Also check out The Moody Blues (B280++), topped with Gorgonzola blue cheese, bacon, cranberry-onion marmalade, rocket salad and garlic mayo.
Bangkok Burger Company operates two branches Silom (Saladaeng Soi 1), and Siam Paragon, GF. www.bangkokburgercompany.com
El Gaucho Argentinian
BUILDING on the popularity of its bustling restaurant on Sukhumvit Soi 19, El Gaucho Argentinian Steakhouse recently opened a new branch on Sukhumvit Soi 11, and it was here, just last month, that we faced one of the biggest burgers to feature in this round-up – the Homemade Wagyu Burger (B890), 250g of ground Wagyu beef served proudly displaying its plump, charcoal chiseled body, on top of an open toasted bun. With quality to match the quantity, this medium-cooked burger’s a real crowd pleasure. Just don’t expect to be able to eat it easily with your hands. Comes served with fries, lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup and mayonnaise. Another good option is the Homemade Cheese and Bacon Burger (B450), a blend of four cuts of beef, served with cheese and bacon, and the same sides as the Wagyu burger.
Sukhumvit Soi 19 & Sukhumvit Soi 11 www.elgaucho.asia
Daniel Thaiger & Nerd
NO doubt about it, the Daniel Thaiger burger truck has been a runaway success in Bangkok. Since parking up for the first time in 2013 in its usual position opposite the food stalls at the entrance of Sukhumvit 38, the truck’s owners Mark (a Los Angeles native) and Honey (Thai) have amassed a legion of fans who follow their quality-focused operation (to ensure high standards they keep their menu slim: plain beef or pork burger, bacon and cheese burger, a pork-and-oat burger, tuna or cheese melt, and the occasion promotion) to special events and back again, all in the name of tasty, hand-crafted burgers served in soft buns fresh from Conkey’s Bakery.
So popular, in fact, is their business, that they recently branched out and together with Game Over (a café and bar featuring a wealth of board, console and PC games for patrons to play) on Thonglor, opened Nerd – an onsite kitchen grilling the same great burgers as sold in the truck, several burgers unique to Nerd (beef, salmon, lamb and pork options) as well as parmesan truffle fries (B150) and a choice of malt milkshakes.
The signature Thaiger Burger (B139 at the truck; B170 at Nerd) features a freshly ground all beef patty topped with lettuce, tomato, grilled onions and the special Thaiger sauce – think juicy, tasty, slightly messy, and all the better for it. The Mr. Steve (B169 at the truck; B200 at Nerd), meanwhile, carries on the delicious theme, this time also topped with Cheddar cheese. Exclusive to Nerd is The Cowboy (B240) – featuring grilled onions, jalapeño, Cheddar
cheese, double bacon, and Thai whiskey barbeque sauce.
Take note: the Daniel Thaiger truck normally opens from Tues-Sat from 5.30pm, has only around 10 seats, and invariably sells out fast (usually before 9pm – so get there early). Expect big queues and at least a 15 minute wait. Check their Facebook page
before going to ensure they’ll be open. Nerd’s kitchen is open Mon 5.30pm-11.30pm; Tues-Sun 11.30am-2.30pm and 5.30pm-11.30pm.
Food Truck Sukhumvit 38 (Mon-Sat); Nerd – Game Over, Liberty Plaza, Sukhumvit 55.
FOR a little over seven years, Roadhouse Barbecue (on the corners of Surawong and Rama IV Roads) has been the go-to venue in Bangkok for authentic stateside flavours – Ribs rubbed with viscous sauces, steaks charbroiled medium-rare, chicken wings loaded with spice. And its signature Cheeseburger (B350++. Regulars get 10 percent discount), made with 100 percent Australian beef and topped with a choice of cheese (American, blue cheese, or Cheddar) as well as grilled onions, smoked bacon, sautéed mushrooms and grilled peppers, and served with lettuce, tomato, French fries, coleslaw and pickle, is a triumph. Chef and owner Dana Caron, a Portland, Maine, native is passionate about his craft and, when it comes to building a burger, only the finest ingredients will do. Check out ‘Secrets of the grill,’ below, to learn how he does it.
Roadhouse Barbecue, 942/1 Rama IV Rd., Surawongse Rd.
Tel: 02 236 8010 www.roadhousebarbecue.com
LOCATED on the ground floor of the Pullman Bangkok Hotel G, this burger and wine bar is part of a US-based chain which launched at Roosevelt Hotel, Los Angeles, in 2004, and now has four outlets under its moniker (the others are in California and Huntington Beach). The name refers to the precise temperature difference between a raw and well-done hamburger, and the sweet science of burger making is evident here in expertly cooked Australian Sirloin patties. The signature Number One is 25 Degrees’ most popular option, featuring caramelized onion, crescenza, prelibato gorgonzola, bacon, arugula, and Thousand Island dressing
(B330++) – so many rich flavours it practically begs to be devoured – but don’t miss the opportunity to Craft Your Own – adding all kinds of sauces and toppings and imported cheeses to create a wobbling meaty marvel of Jenga tower proportions. “The secret to making a great burger is a secret,” laughs the restaurant’s Sous chef Nam Fon. “But using only fresh, high quality ingredients is certainly one of the keys.” Best of all – 25 Degrees is open 24 hours a day, so you can get your munch on any time you like.
Pullman Bangkok Hotel G, 188 Silom Rd. Tel: 02 238 1991
Where to buy top grade beef in Bangkok
Sukhumvit Soi 71 on the corner of Soi Pridi Phanomyong 37. Tel: 02 382 2301
• Accidental Butcher: Top quality imported meats are the order of the day at this popular butcher’s on Sukhumvit 63.
• Passion Delivery: Works with over 25 food and drinks producers to bring over 200 artisan products direct to your door, including Premium grass fed Wagyu burgers (150g. B250 per piece) and Tasmanian Angus beef burger patties (170g. B175 per piece).
WHEN popular Thonglor hangout Iron Fairies first opened its whimsical doors its food menu was focused on a slim selection of carefully crafted burgers. Today, a full range of international options are on offer, but the original meaty goodness still pulls in the punters – as well as an extensive range of cocktails, live jazz performances, and the venue’s distinctive steam-punk design, which looks like the set of a Harry Potter movie. Eight different homemade burgers are on offer, including the impressive Fat Gut’z Beef Burger (B350++) – an oversized beef patty topped with brie, bacon, cos lettuce, red onion and spicy homemade ketchup, all artfully placed between a toasted soft bun, served on a chopping board, and pieced through the middle with a steak knife. Yum!
402 Soi Thonglor. Open daily 6pm-2am. Tel: 02 714 8875 www.theironfairies.com
NOSE-to-tail dining hub Smith is well-known for its delectable meat dishes made using humanely and organically sourced produce. You can bet your craftsman’s hammer, then, that when it comes to cooking a superior burger, Smith has hit the nail well and truly on the head. Ensconced within a homemade, jet-black, squid ink bun, the restaurant’s signature Black Label Burger (B485++) comes served on a wooden slab and is quite simply bursting with flavour. The restaurant’s head chef Noom also calls this burger ‘The Tower,’ a fitting name as he constructs each Black Label Burger from the ground up like a foreman charged with building a luxury property. First the meat: 180g of Australian Wagyu rump that’s ground just right
1/8 Sukhumvit Soi 49. Open Tues-Sat 5pm-Midnight; Sun 11am-Midnight.
Tel: 02 261 0515-6 www.smith-restaurant.com
Dana Edward Caron, owner and chef of Roadhouse Barbecue,
on how to make a great burger
The secret to making a great burger starts with the meat. The best burgers are 80 percent beef, and 20 percent fat; and most people make them around the 85 – 15 percent ratio. A good option is Australian chuck, which, when ground well (and that means twice – once through a large grinder, the second through a smaller one, to ensure the meat’s tender) you get the perfect grain that’s strong and holds up – perfect for burger making. Then – the real secret to cooking a great burger – make sure you cook your meat on a very hot, real charcoal grill. This should have a cast iron top to ensure you get the best tastes (and a lovely crisscross pattern on the meat). Cook the meat for three minutes on each side (that’s one and a half minutes on each side, four times) for medium, and add two minutes to the process for medium-well, and another two minutes for well-done. Did I mention the bread? That’s very important too. Buy from a baker who specializes in burger rolls and don’t scrimp on quality. Toast your bun before adding your patty, then top with your favourite cheese and sauces. Enjoy!
Hard Rock Cafe Bangkok
THE Bangkok iteration of this renowned franchise has been flying the flag for the Hard Rock brand for the past 24 years. True to form, it serves hearty portions of all-American food while music videos, beamed from Hard Rock Cafe HQ in Orlando, USA, keep the atmosphere lively and fun and make for great conversation starters – “Was Bon Jovi’s hair really that big in the ’80s?” for instance. Speaking of big, Hard Rock’s Legendary Burgers (10oz) – meaty monsters made using premium Angus beef – live up to their name by dominating the plate and packing plenty of flavour. For maximum meaty satisfaction try the new Tango Burger (two single patties layered with slow-cooked Sloppy-Joe, Cheddar and Jack cheeses, tangy barbecue sauce, and finished with blue cheese and horseradish mayo. B690++) or the Fiesta Burger (layered with roasted Jalapeño salsa, melted Jack cheese, freshly made guacamole, pico de gallo, crisp lettuce and vine-ripened tomato. B650++). All burgers are cooked medium-well (unless you ask otherwise) and served on a toasted bun with seasoned fries. Word of warning: Take a healthy appetite. These beasts are huge.
Siam Square, Soi 11 (BTS Siam), Tel: 02 658 4090-3 www.hardrock.com
Lady Brett Tavern
LEADING the charge of all things cool on Sathorn Soi 12, the nightly thriving Lady Brett (neighbour to, and from the same team behind, Rocket Coffeebar) specialises in quality meats charbroiled to perfection in a Josper wood and charcoal oven. The restaurant’s stylish design (inspired by a New York-style tavern) and laid-back vibe make it the perfect spot for chomping into a fine burger – and
149 Sathorn Soi 12 Open Mon-Sun 5pm-Midnight Tel: 02 635 0405 www.ladybrett.com
SEATING only around 15 people in a narrow shophouse on Asoke Soi 2, Chef Bar may be tiny, but it's certainly big on flavour and character. Owner Roland Graham is one of the most passionate chefs in Bangkok, and his some 40 plus years in the trade translates into expertly crafted comfort food made using premium ingredients, including fine cuts of imported meat. As a result, his burgers are amazing. Find out what's on offer on the Chef Bar facebook page.
Sukhumvit Soi 21/2 Tel: 080 052 7336 www.on.fb.me/1HvhWLt
• The Walla Walla Washington Newspaper was the first, in 1889, to report on the existence of the hamburger.
• Hamburgers get their name from the Hamburg steaks that German immigrants took with them to the US.
• In 1921, Walter A Anderson (a short order cook) and E.W. Ingram (an insurance exec) founded White Castle, the first and the oldest burger chain, in Wichita, Kansas. Their first burger sold for a nickel.
• Americans consume 13 billion hamburgers a year, enough to circle the earth 32 times.
• Black Bear Resort Casino, located in Minnesota, holds the world record for the biggest burger. It weighs in at 2,014 pounds and is 10ft in diameter.
• Animal rights group PETA once offered NY $15,000 to the New York town of Hamburg to change its name to Veggieburg.
• The best way to cook and serve a burger is medium rare: crispy outside and pink inside.
• During WWI, the US Government tried to rename hamburgers ‘liberty sandwiches,’ so they wouldn’t have
to use the German word. The Americans also called Sauerkraut “Liberty Cabbage.”
New York Style Steak & Burger
OWNED by former model Khun ‘Lina’ Naalinlat – a self-confessed ‘steak freak’ – Bangkok’s first New York Style Steak & Burger restaurant (at Park 22, Sukhumvit 22) follows the fine example set by its sisters in Shanghai and Beijing by offering prime USDA
Certified Angus Beef and fresh-ground burgers – all at reasonable prices. The signature 220g Manhattan Monster (B450++), grilled to order and seasoned with sea salt and black pepper only, lives up to its name by towering over the accompanying fries like a meaty version of the Empire State Building (or Godzilla, if you prefer to imagine a monster) – an eye-popping stack of bacon, cheese, fried egg, homemade pickle, and onion rings, all held together atop the patty by a wooden stick pierced right through the middle. Granted, it’s mighty difficult to squeeze it all down into a feast you can actually handle with your hands, but the effort’s more than worth it. Time to start flexing those finger muscles (and your jaw).
28, Sukhumvit Soi 22. Open daily 11am-11pm. Tel: 02 262 0920 www.facebook.com/NYsteaknburger
SPECIALISING in ‘smashed burgers’ – that is, fresh ground 110g patties that are pressed flat on the grill so they go crisp on the edges – this popular countertop eatery on the sixth floor of the MBK shopping center provides a great excuse to take a break from shopping. Alongside a selection of sandwiches, salads and shakes, the menu features eight burgers to choose from (ranging in price B255-B290). The signature Smashed Burger (B315) is served in a buttered brioche bun (baked fresh daily) and topped with pickles, jalapeño peppers, crispy smoked bacon, crispy shallots, cheddar cheese, and Smashed Burgers’ sweet barbecue sauce. Price includes crinkle cut fries.
MBK Center, 444 Phayathai Rd. Tel: 02 662 0557 www.facebook.com/smashedburgers
ONE of the juiciest and messiest burgers we sampled on our burger round up was The Lava Cheesy Burger (B290) at Jim’s, Ari Samphan Soi 3. Only one bite in and our hands were smothered in its molten cheesy goodness, which also pooled on the table, making us look like dribbling fools. Still, the flavours were bold, the hipster-packed confines of Jim’s narrow, New York-inspired interior fun (it seats only around 30 people, so book ahead to avoid disappointment), and the selection of beers impressive – including, amongst others, Brew Dog Punk IPA and Weihenstephaner Vitus on tap. Don’t fancy cheesy fingers for the rest of the night? Opt for the The Apocalypse Burger or US Philly Steak Burger (both B360). Charcoal and whole wheat buns are also available.
Ari Samphan Soi 3 Tel: 02 000 9585 www. on.fb.me/1b9sErT
Tenderloins Sports Bar & Steak House
NOTABLE for successfully marrying a crackling bar and an excellent grill featuring some of Bangkok’s best and most reasonably priced steaks, Tenderloins has a lot going for it. The menu is short, but features beef from Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. The burger list includes eight options to choose from, including the signature Tenderloins Burger, topped with cheese, bacon, beetroot and egg; and, our favourite, the Chili Burger, which comes loaded with chilli con carne, and served with guacamole and chilli beans. All burgers are priced B300 each, and are homemade daily using 100 percent ground Australian beef. Tasty.
7/8-9 Sukhumvit Soi 33 (BTS Prom Pong). Tel: 02 258 4529 www.tenderloins33.com
Orn The Road
PARKED daily outside the Jewelry Trade Center on Silom Road, this gem of a food truck is owned and operated by Khun Orn, former part-owner of the old Woodstock Bar and Grill, which was well-known for the quality of its American eats. Since hitting the streets 10 months ago, her first burger truck (she plans to launch another, on Thonglor, soon) has gained a glowing reputation for its chargrilled burgers served in striking, black charcoal buns.
Silom Rd (in front of the Jewelry Trade Center) Usually open 11am-7pm (check Facebook to ensure they’re open)
• Paper Butter: When we visited this new food stall in Soi Ari at 7.30pm on a Friday night they’d already run out of beef burgers. So we munched a Pork burger instead. Tasty, it was, but unfortunately not suitable for this round up. Made fresh daily with ground Australian beef, and ranging in price from B150-B190, the beef burgers do sound promising though. We look forward to returning to give them a whirl. www.facebook.com/PaperButter
• Mother Trucker: This superbly named food truck went off-road for an “Epic Upgrade” in April, so unfortunately we didn’t get chance to sample its much touted goods. They’ll be back in business by the time you read this, though, and if the internet clamour’s anything to go by – British actor Jason Statham’s a fan, apparently – well worth a look. Keep up to date with their locations at www.facebook.com/MotherTruckerBKK/timeline.
• Escapade Burgers & Shakes: The popular Phra Athit hangout famed for its burgers was hosting a concert the night we dropped by to sample its wares. So it was take-away only. No problem, you’d think, but then it started to rain. Still, we huddled in a dark corner on the street, wolfed down a burger, and then ran to the cover of a bar – realising after our mad dash that we’d forgotten to take a photo of the burger or write any notes in the process. We will be back (with professional heads on, and maybe a plastic poncho!).