And The Winner Is

We were so lucky to have had a final NYC burger at Shake Shack’s JFK Terminal Four outlet, and having been back in Singapore for five days, we’re now suffering serious burger withdrawals. Or it could just be jet lag.

I’ve never craved burgers so much, and I know there’re burger joints all over the U.S. that’d lay claim to having the best patties, so we’ll just have to eat our way across 50 states (ok 49, ‘cos maybe not Hawaii ‘cos they probably put pineapple in theirs) another trip.

But for now, here are the other three outstanding entries:

Steak & Shake’s Steakburger

DBGB’s Frenchie

Ai Fiori’s White Label Burger

If I had to pick a winner among all the burgers, it’d have to be The White Label. If you can’t taste it for yourself, then knowing what goes into it may help.

Thank you Michael White
Thank you Michael White

Ich Bin Ein Hamburger

We didn’t plan on doing this, but I’ve been told it’s quite characteristic of a trip to New York to entail many distractions, random and sudden new objectives, and a lot of it having to do with food.

On our first night in Manhattan, our local friends took us out to a burger speakeasy, simply called The Burger Joint, and simply hidden behind a velvet curtain in the lobby of the Parker Meridien hotel in mid-town Manhattan.

The following day, we made a plan to walk from 59th Street southward to Eataly, and stopped at Madison Square Park for Kai to get a little play time. There we saw our first Shake Shack, then we saw our first crazy Shake Shack queue and decided to come back some time after lunch hour. It still took over 20 minutes to get our burger, but thankfully, it was a 20 minutes worth waiting. It was also the first burger Kai has ever finished on his own.

Then the next day, we happened to be walking past Minetta Tavern at close to opening time and our local friends decided it was worth our giving the famed Black Label Burger a shot even though the tavern was kinda small, and a little noisy with post-work people hanging out having drinks. Custom-made from dry-aged ribeye, skirt steak and brisket, the patty is sublime, and at the moment, the Black Label stands as the best burger I have ever tasted.

(As we were leaving the tavern, Bono – yes, the Bono of the U2 – was just walking in, and nearly got hit in the head by Kai’s stroller, which was being passed to me overhead – so crowded was the tavern.)

There are other burgers to be had – we have lists, but the first three made for a really good trifecta.

The Smoke Shack from Shake Shack
The Smoke Shack from Shake Shack

Still made by hand, but sold out like a business

A couple of weeks ago, we decided to have lunch at the Raffles City branch of The Handburger. The previous times we ate there, they hadn’t gotten their “brand new look” yet, and we liked their burgers enough to eat there several times.

So we had really high hopes for a tasty burger lunch, but they were soon dashed by a young waiter who appeared either really ill with a cough and cold or was putting on a show of being really ill with a cough and cold. He coughed and sniffled into the palm of his hand several times, then went and served food without first going to wipe up whatever he sneezed or coughed into his hand.

I complained to the manager on duty, who said he’d speak to the waiter. About fifteen minutes later, the waiter was still doing the same thing, prompting me to ask the manager what he’d said to the waiter.

The manager then asked me, “What did the waiter do or say to you?”, prompting me to explain the whole thing again, this time, loud enough for the other patrons to hear. He then apologized and came back with a receipt that said he’d wiped out the service charge on our bill. Really nice of him to do so.

Then came the food. We began to ask him why the burgers were so amazingly tough, and before we finished asking our question, he explained that that was a common query, and that management had told him to tell patrons that with the new setup (and brand new look), they now “separate the fat from the meat, so with less fat, it is no longer so tender”. We quickly abandoned our second question of why the milkshake was so watery.

You heard it here. The Handburger sells bullshit.