Tokyo

Blacows, Tokyo

My last burger stop in Tokyo was easily the one I had been looking forward to the most during the entire trip. With only one location in the Daikanyama district, Blacows serves a more ‘gourmet’ burger, proudly touting premium ingredients such as 100% black wagyu beef, and buns from maison kayser. Their burgers aren’t exactly cheap either, easily the most expensive of the three burger joints I visited,  ranging from about 1000Yen for the most basic hamburger, up to 2450Yen for gigantic meat party burgers.

Blacows Ultimate meat burger: Patty, Wagyu roast beef, bacon, proscuitto, gravy sauce, original bbq sauce

I’m going to say right off the bat that I made the wrong choice of burger. Every component in the burger was spot on, the patty was flavorful and moist, the roast beef was perfectly cooked, still pink in the center, the bun did not disappoint, crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, although I’d say it was slightly below par compared to great burger; its a shame that the one issue I had with the burger was that the proscuitto overpowered the flavor of the beef.

It was a heavy, heavy burger, the kind that I like, but halfway through your burger, all you taste is the proscuitto and bbq sauce. It was only after removing the proscuitto that I could appreciate the individual flavors of the burger, and they came together alot better. The chips/fries were nicely cooked, not as crisp as baker bounce, but they were good fries, definitely not an afterthought garnish to the burger.

The high quality of burgers at blacows is evident, the philosophy is simple- quality ingredients lead to a quality burger. Just from visiting their website, where they tout the breakdown of each burger proudly, you can tell that this is a place that cares a lot about produce. 1000Y for a basic hamburger is a lot to pay, if you have cash to spend, then by all means, visit Blacows, but I should make it clear that the standard of cheaper options like Baker bounce and Great burger are not that far off. Very good

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Tokyo

Baker bounce, Tokyo

Baker Bounce was my 2nd (out of 3) stops of my burger tour in Japan, Baker bounce has 2 locations in Tokyo, one in Sangenjaya, which I went to, and one in Tokyo Midtown, near Roppongi station. The menu is quite extensive, including non-burger related items, but I was there for one thing and one thing only

Egg bacon burger lunch combo

Some, maybe even many, will disagree with me when I say that a fried egg in a burger only serves to make it better. I don’t see how yolk dripping down your fingers and the sides of your hands, moistening every bite, making the burger even richer couldn’t possibly elevate a burger. Baker bounce definitely knows this, they serve 2 fried eggs, whites perfectly cooked with some browning, yolks still liquid, atop an open faced bun. For some reason that I can’t fathom, all the burgers I had in Tokyo were served open faced, and you had to ‘build’ the burger yourself, by ‘build’, I really mean put the buns together and slip it into  a piece of waxed paper. Its almost like they’re trying to tease you- all you want to do it sink your teeth into the burger the moment they put it in front of you, but no, you have to work for it, you have to slap an empty bun onto the filling, you have to pull out a piece of wax paper, then gently try to caress the burger, which is obviously too big to fit into that damned piece of paper, inching it closer and closer to the edge, till it slips in, and you feel like you have accomplished something tremendous, the reward for your hard work right in your hands. But I digress, the burger at bakers bounce, is good. The meat takes a much more prominent role in this burger compared to great burger, the tomato and homemade tartar sauce shine through, but the vegetables get overpowered by the beef patty and the bacon(this is not a bad thing), the bun falls a little short compared to great burger, although the one at great burger was pretty…. great…. I would rate this higher than the burger I had at Great burger, this just felt a little more.. Manly and satisfying. Two words I never thought I’d put together in the same sentence.

The real surprise for me was the potato wedges, shatteringly crisp on the outside, well seasoned, lots of nutty browned flavor. I’d go as far as to say that, while they are not in the same league as Heston’s triple cooked chips, they are not that far off either. Overall, this place is definitely worth a visit, more so than great burger, although great burger has a much nicer space and overall a place you would want to spend the afternoon in, Baker bounce, not so much. Good-Very good

Singapore

Spruce, Singapore

Spruce Signature burger

This is one of the few instances where the concept of ‘less is more’ actually works on a burger. The burger isn’t served with cheese oozing out over the sides, without juices dripping down the sides of the patty; instead, the burger is served with neatly shredded lettuce at the top(tiny detail but makes a world of difference), sliced tomatoes, which by the way, are probably my least favourite component of any burger(and yes I prefer pickles over tomatoes on burgers), and cheese neatly tucked  in and imprinted onto a beautifully cooked beef patty. The patty was surprisingly juicy, and very soft, I would go as far as to say that the patty was actually better cooked than the one I had at Relish, albeit somewhat salty.. The bun was very nicely toasted, which was necessary because the patty did leak quite a bit of delicious meaty juice out, and nothing spoils a burger like a soggy bun. Fries were pretty good too, well season and crisp. Good

Spruce Mac and Cheese

This was actually a side dish, and apparently one of their famous dishes. With or without the hype, it was disappointing. The cheese was way too mild for the amount of cream that they used. It was very heavy and filling, while being  light on flavour- a terrible combination. Bad

Crab cake benny- Crabcake, poached egg, smoked bacon and hollandaise

I wasn’t crazy about this. The egg was a little overcooked for me (again, spoiled by sous vide), the hollandaise was on the heavier side. But the crabcake was pretty damn good, very meaty, fresh and robust flavour, sweetness of the crab was a good pairing with the saltiness of the dish on the whole, but the sauce and bacon were a tad too overpowering for me. I personally think the crabcakes could stand as a dish on its own, but overall the dish was less than the sum of its parts. Okay

Steamed Ginger Date pudding with chocolate toffee sauce

There was something… out of the ordinary with this dish when I was eating it, and I didnt realise what it was untill I was halfway through the dish- Its ridiculously sweet. And the sweetness hits you like an F1 racecar- you don’t see it coming, but when it hits you, it hits you hard. The chocolate-toffee sauce is basically toffee dressed up as chocolate, so you think you’re having a chocolate sauce when in fact you’re having liquid toffee. The steamed ginger date pudding, which would imply a light dessert, and in all probability, may have been a light dessert; but seeing as to how the only way to eat it was to dredge it in a pool of chocolate(read:toffee) sauce, its purpose was more or less defeated, which is a shame, because the pudding was actually pretty good eaten with the vanilla ice cream. I should add that the warm sauce was actually nicely contrasted with the ice cream, but again, the sauce overpowered everything. Okay

Overall, I didn’t expect much from Spruce, and I honestly didn’t get much. It is a nice place to have brunch, the food is pretty decent and well priced, but not somewhere that I’m dying to go back to. Be warned that the place is pretty under-staffed, I was sat in a corner, it was nice to get some privacy, but at times it felt like they had forgotten about us and the tables in the vicinity.

Singapore

Relish, Singapore


It’s been quite a while since I’ve written a post here. I’ve thought of a few excuses, but at the end of the day, I’ve just been plain lazy. I’ll make this quick since there isn’t all that much to talk about. I recently went to Relish, along Bukit Timah road. I was actually hoping to hit Bar Bar Black Sheep for burgers but the place was closed, and having gotten into the mindset that I will be putting a meat patty stuck between 2 slices of bread into my mouth, I had to satisfy that craving. Relish popped up as the closest available option. Incidentally, Relish is owned by Willin Low, who runs Wild Rocket.

Let me just say, first and foremost, that I lived off burgers in college. Exam at 8am? No time for dinner? Drive through Macdonalds. Feel like giving myself a treat? Drive through In-n-Out(Best ‘fast food’ burger imo). Everything,  from the hole in the wall joint that serves burgers cooked with oil that has been recycled and reused daily since the 1960’s, to the Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller burgers served with a little drizzle of truffle oil, just to you know, elevate the burrrr-gher(french pronunciation), I love.  I’ve never really had unreasonably high expectations for my burgers, which makes me a little uneasy when I eat ‘high-end’ burgers. Trying to deconstruct the individual components of a burger and figure out how it tastes on your tongue is like trying to piece together the ramblings of a retard- theyre not meant to be understood, and you end up looking like an idiot. Considering the fact that I just pre-maturely insulted myself, do take this post with a pinch of salt, I’m no burger connoisseur.

Mushroom Soup

We start off with a reasonably simple mushroom soup. Thick, creamy, very intensely flavoured, with good chunks of diced mushroom in the soup itself. I appreciate that the diced mushroom added a little texture to the dish, but there was also smaller bits of mushroom strewn all over the place that made it a little grainy, I thought they could have pureed it a little better. And despite the soup being very hearty, it did get a little heavy towards the end. Okay

Blue Cheese Beef Burger with Rucola, Poached pear and Walnut Butter

This is apparently one of the most popular burgers served at Relish, and it definitely looked the most interesting. The blue cheese component of the dish was actually embedded within the beef patty, which makes sense because the creamy-ness of the cheese contributed to the perceived juicy-ness of the meat patty. Surprisingly though, the blue cheese taste was not as strong as I thought it would be, even less so than some of the cheddar cheese slices I’ve had on other regular hamburgers. The meat was a little overcooked for my liking (I requested Medium-rare), but still packed good flavour. The umami filled patty was balanced beautifully by the poached pear, the sweetness of the pear toned the richness down a notch, but it didnt overpower the palate and the burger remained primarily savoury. Very well played Willin Low.

What really threw the whole burger off was the inclusion of the walnut butter. The butter was just a whisper of nuttiness in the background, chasing the main attraction- the patty, at least for the first few bites. But after I was halfway through the burger, walnut was all I tasted. The only big flaw in an otherwise, good burger. Okay

On a side note, I ordered a side of guacamole to go with the burger and fries, and not only was the guac severely underseasoned, it was ice cold, literally- the core of the guac was still ice. Not good

Bonus photo: In-n-out 4×4 burger: 4 patties, 4 slices of cheese. Greed is definitely good