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Singapore's new Whopper Bar: Fast food dolled up
Question: Is a Burger King wrapped up in a classy bar's decor, still a plain old Burger King?
We were curious about what new twists were possible to a fast food staple being touted at Singapore's Burger King Whopper Bar. Are the hamburgers bigger? Will they have gourmet meat options like wagyu, side orders like hors d'oeuvres and desserts with fancy names? How many patties can they squeeze between two buns? Can you really dress up a Whopper and call it something else, or is it still in the end just a Whopper?
So we went. And found out the Burger King's Whopper Bar is the first in Asia, with another likely to follow shortly somewhere along Orchard Road.
And that simply, the Whopper Bar's basically an upscale burger joint, with more condiments and ingredients (24 and counting), better service and beer. The meat's still 'flame-grilled' and the usual sides sit in their usual place on the menu.
Where the Whopper Bar departs from the usual fast food, fast service formula is the expanded range of personal options and a new customizable, premium menu that includes, as a first for the chain in Singapore, beer. The décor's better as well, and there are new service staff called 'Whopper-tenders' to suggest and personalize your burger.
These trained burger experts, carefully watched by a 'Whopper-visor' and lorded over by the 'Whopper-meister,' will direct and shape your burger to how you like it. They will even go beyond to accommodate odd requests. Fancy a burger with all 24 sauces? They'll serve it up in a bucket and a smile. Answer our burning question on how many patties on those buns (we just had to ask), Mr. Peter Tan, President of Burger King in Asia Pacific, said cheerily they'll definitely cook it up but we best be prepared to eat it. Should have asked how you get to Whopper-meister status in the BK hierarchy.
For those who prefer the tried-and-tested options, the standard Burger King fare is still available, but there's also three new-to-market burgers like the Angry Whopper, Western Whopper (turkey bacon and BBQ sauce) and Sweet Mexicana Whopper (tortilla chips, grilled onions and salsa sauce).
Here's the spin: “As our regional headquarter base for Asia Pacific and a globally-recognized incubator for innovation, Singapore is the ideal market to serve as BK’s innovation test-bed for new store concepts and products in the region,” said Tan.
There are plans to roll out Whopper Bars across other Asian cities, including Hong Kong, Tokyo, Taiwan, Beijing and Shanghai.
So, while the patties are bigger (another question answered) and there was beer (a first for fast food joints here), the Whopper Bar was a bit of a letdown -- we were expecting more variety with new items, perhaps a wagyu meat option (to answer the final one) or gourmet sides like fries with gouda cheese. What we got was a menu built entirely around the Whopper burger, which is admirable but not enough to get our hearts pumping. Table service with real napkins would also be nice, without having to queue and order at the counter. To borrow a phrase from our Thai friends, it was "same same but different."
Burger King Whopper Bar
Blk 3B, River Valley Road, #01-06
Clarke Quay, Singapore
Opens 12pm - 3am daily