The hamburger may well have European origins, but it took the Americans to see the potential of this seasoned beef patty as comfort food at its best. The charred, slightly crunchy exterior and the soft juiciness within, is a thing of beauty, but you’ve got to get all the components just right. The bun can’t be too soft otherwise it just becomes impractical. A juicy burger would see off such a bun in minutes. Something more robust, like a sour dough roll, has the texture and structure to hold up despite all the juices. Golden-brown brioche has emerged as the burger bun of choice in restaurants where words like “artisanal” are found. However, you can’t beat a soft white slider bun, with a sprinkling of sesame seeds on top. And for best results, toast the cut sides of the bun.
The burger needs a high fat content, so that it stays moist, and a decent crust. It needs to be cooked medium-rare, because a well-done burger is nothing short of a chewy tragedy. Cheese is not mandatory, but decent pickles are and nothing beats the traditional gherkin. Lettuce adds nothing whatsoever, you just get leaves that wilt into soggy submission. The same goes for warm, spongy slices of bland beef tomato. For me, salad has no place in the perfect burger. Everyone has their own idea of burger perfection, and which Beijing restaurants serve up the best burgers.
In the beijinger’s Burger Cup 2015, only two Shunyi restaurants made it through the first round of the competition. The Garagewent the furthest, reaching the final Sweet Sixteen. Loft Eatalicious made it through to the second round. Those that fell at the first, included Pinotage, Lakers, The Filling Station, Jamaica Blue, and Hungry Horse. It’s a tough competition and I think most of you will agree that whilst these guys didn’t make the finals, they all serve up some pretty decent burgers. Voting is now open in the Final Four, click here to place your vote.
You get a 250g burger (RMB 55), which has a nice crispy exterior thanks to some good char grilling. It comes served in a nicely toasted sesame bun, with sliced tomato, pickles, and lettuce. There’s also a thick slice of raw onion, which I’m sure most diners will promptly take out. The meat is seasoned with a touch too much salt, but the texture’s nice and meaty.
The Filling Station
The perfect size burger (RMB 70), served with lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles. They use good quality, imported beef, and you can taste it. A great texture, the burger is cooked just right so that it’s still nice and juicy. A bonus is that it’s served alongside some really good coleslaw.
This popular pizza joint also serves up a range of burgers. The meat (RMB 50) is seasoned with a little too much salt, and could have been cooked for slightly less time, but overall a good burger. It comes with the usual fillings and is served up in a big soft bun.
The burger is less char-grilled, and the texture is quite compact. It has great flavor though, and is perfectly seasoned. The plain white bun is lightly toasted, with the burger sitting on a bed of lettuce and topped with sliced tomato. The highlight is the really tasty caramelized red onions, a great value burger at RMB 49.
beijingkids Shunyi Correspondent Sally Wilson moved to Beijing in 2010 from the UK with her husband and son. Her daughter was born here in 2011 and both her kids keep her happily busy. In her spare time, Sally loves to stroll through Beijing’s hutongs and parks. She is a (most of the time) keen runner and loves reading: books, magazines, news, and celeb websites – anything really. Sally is also a bit of a foodie and loves trying out new restaurants.
Photos: Sally Wilson, Steven Depolo (Flickr)