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Bangkok Burger Co., the only place in town to find a Panang burger
But with so much competition in a city of burger lovers, has this Thonglor start-up bitten off more than it can chew?
When it comes to the best burger in town, new start-up Bangkok Burger Co. has plenty of competition in the capital.
Given Bangkok's numerous, it’s no wonder that a slew of bars, restaurants and pubs tout their own meat-in-a-bun as the best in the city.
It is refreshing, then, to come across a place happy –- indeed, confident enough –- to let its burgers do the talking.
The Bangkok Burger Co. sits on the first floor of the newly completed Opus Building, located just off Thonglor along busy Soi 10, which cuts through to Ekamai.
Inside, a series of red booths line the left-side floor-to-ceiling windows, while couple-sized tables and chairs are on the right. At the far end of the room is the open kitchen, a glowing beacon of yellow light topped by a flat screen TV showing family-themed movies.
In short, it’s a warm, clean, simple, comfortable space –- albeit one that has attracted plenty of thought by its owner.
Curry burgers and calorific milkshakes
Conveniently, your placemat serves as your menu. Step one is to choose your burger size (regular or large). Step two: Deciding between beef and pork. Step three: Choose from one of the 15 recipes -- all of which come served with homemade coleslaw, steakhouse chips, or house salad. (Switch to curly fries for 30 baht extra.)
The list includes the familiar: The Bacon Cheese: triple crispy bacon, cheddar and burger cheeses, 230 baht regular, 295 baht large); the less familiar (The Emperor: burger cooked in teriyaki sauce with sautéed onions, mushrooms and wasabi mayonnaise, 230-295 baht); and the interestingly unusual (The Panang: a burger simmered in panang curry sauce and Thai vegetables, 230-295 baht).
We found the regular size portion to be large enough, leaving room for a few sides. While the crunchy battered onion rings (125 baht) could have done with a bit more onion, the Buffalo wings with blue cheese (145 baht) were on the money –- just remember to ask for extra hot sauce.
It’s worth mentioning the excellent dip served with the salt and pepper calamari (145 baht).
The overall verdict on the burgers: well-structured, they ably held together with a pleasing blend of ingredients. If we had one quibble, it might be that the flavor of the beef didn’t always come through –- but there was definitely a sense of well-judged balance of tastes inside the bun.
We also weren’t overly keen about the disappointing steak fries, though we’d easily pay the extra 30 baht to upgrade to curly fries again.
However, at the end of the day these are minor critiques of an otherwise highly impressive product.
Pair everything with one of their calorific milkshakes (recommended is the Cookie Crunch: Oreo cookies with vanilla ice-cream, milk, ice, and whipped cream, 110 baht), fruit-shakes (can’t go wrong with a Berry Nice: wild berries blended with pineapple, 95 baht) or the adults-only selection of "Grown-Up Shakes."
So is it best burger in town? Perhaps not quite yet –- but it’s definitely a contender.
Q&A with Jim Moroney, founder of Bangkok Burger Co.
CNNGo: What were you doing before the Bangkok Burger Co.?
Jim Moroney: It’s a long story ... I started as a chef at 15, became a bartender at 18, then travelled to Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, and became a world champion flair bartender.
Then I returned to Britain and was one of the co-founders of a nationwide group of restaurants called The Living Room, as well as Director of Training for all staff and management.
We opened more than 25 restaurants over nine years, not leaving much time for anything else -– so I sold my house and came to Asia four years ago.
CNNGo: Aren’t there already enough pubs and restaurants serving burgers?
Jim Moroney: Indeed, but although many pubs and restaurants in Bangkok serve a burger, none are focused solely on that dish. Our kitchen is designed for burgers ... and nothing else.
This means that although our menu looks extensive, it is in fact quite small, enabling us to combine quality fresh ingredients with care and attention to producing the best burgers in Bangkok.
All our sauces and dips are made fresh every day, along with our secret recipe for the burger mixes and marinades. This would be almost impossible for a pub to do –- their more diverse menu also means a lot of wastage in the kitchen.
CNNGo: Where did you get the idea for some of the stranger burgers?
Jim Moroney: The Panang was an obvious choice. I knew this would only be ordered by farang but I wanted to put it on mainly for a talking point –- it seems to have worked.
It’s also a very tasty burger. We grill the patty first then simmer in a pan with chunky panang sauce, which emulsifies with the meat.
The Emperor (burger cooked in teriyaki sauce with sautéed onions, mushrooms and wasabi mayonnaise) is because we have a large Japanese population in Thonglor. This was my homage to them.
CNNGo: You have said “We are targeting Thais with our menu, catering to Thai tastes and focusing on our core customer base –- Thais.” What makes the burgers so Thai?
Jim Moroney: We don’t want to be a "fusion" restaurant; rather we are a Western restaurant catering for the Thai appetite.
In my extensive research I have found that in Thai culture, they: don’t like to waste food, so our regular burger is 100 grams, and large 170 grams. They don’t like to eat burnt food (it causes cancer), so we cook our burgers medium well.
They share food and eat burgers with a knife and fork, so we serve plates with cutlery. They like to see Thai people running a restaurant, hence our management team is local. They're very proud of their capital city, which explains the name of the restaurant.
They like open kitchens, so we have one, and chefs who interact with the customers. And they love the taste of French fries -- and really, really love the taste of curly fries.
Bangkok Burger Co. Unit 103, G/F, Opus Building, 139 Thong Lor Soi 10, +66 (0)2 715 9407; bangkokburgercompany.com. Open daily 11a.m. – 11p.m.