Not many people know it but the burger, like so many of the dishes we eat, is constantly evolving. From its historic beginnings to its latest iterations, the burger’s basic components have always been some kind of bread and a patty. Chefs today have frolicked between these buns and let their imaginations run wild, giving birth to iconic burgers now known around the world like White Castle, Five Guys, In-N-Out, and — dare I say it — Jollibee’s Yumburger.
Even just within the Philippines, the playing field nestled between burger buns has witnessed many triumphs and failures. Lately, however, it seems chefs and restaurateurs have had a collective reawakening and decided to reinvent the wheel of the comfort food world. From the humble and plain buns, we now have sourdough, brioche, potato, and even rice buns. The patty, once just made of ground beef, has evolved to fancier versions like Angus Beef or local twists like chorizo as well as lighter options like chicken or even vegan! Additional fillings have grown from the usual cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes to more bespoke selections like different cooks of onions (caramelized, raw, pickled, crispy battered rings), a myriad of imported and local cheeses, signature sauces have become a thing, and even luxury ingredients like foie gras and truffles have made its way into the mix. And these are just some of the ways burgers have changed within the past year during the lockdown — giving further proof that the evolution of the burger is never done.
“[The trend now is] giving the consumers more than an ordinary cheeseburger,” shares Chef Luis Chikiamco of Discovery Primea, who recently launched The Burger Library for the posh Makati hotel. “The burger scene is now becoming very interesting with the innovation of the simple and humble burger to something more ‘gourmet’ with the elevation of its flavor profiles by using choice ingredients.”
Metronome’s co-owner and Chef de Cuisine Miko Calo, who once worked for French culinary icon Joël Robuchon, is no stranger to high-end ingredients. So when fine dining Metronome had to pivot to take-out and delivery in 2020, she made sure their burgers stayed on brand through Lazy Oeuf.
“Lazy Oeuf came into fruition because of the pandemic. We started it to be able to provide a monthly allowance for our staff. It took me about a few days to finalize the fundamentals which are the patty and brioche bun then a week to develop the rest plus testing if the product travels well. Our burgers are unique because of its French slant. It tastes quite luxurious but still accessible,” explains Chef Miko.
She also pointed out that no matter the trend or what’s inside the burger, it will always be one of our go-to comfort foods. “I feel like the burger has always had different iterations. It will always be a staple, it will always be something the people crave for. It will always be comfort food.”
But when it comes to traditional and out-of-the-box burger creations, Chef Edward Bugia has seen a lot of it — from his “old but now dormant concept” BRGR: The Burger Project in Quezon City (which had us all building our own burgers before a popular chain started saying “Have It Your Way”) to his new burger babies at Mimi & Bros in Bonifacio Global City. He sees a different trend in the burger world lately.
“Back to basics. Everyone is going back to basics,” says Chef Ed, who’s the head of food & beverage for the MFT Group. “They want good quality beef, nice cheese, onions is a matter of preference, pickles, specialty sauce, sometimes nice crisp vegetables… People are understanding and appreciating that in the Philippines we now have good quality products and you don't have to mask it with too many other ingredients. Just keep it simple.”
But what makes a burger a good one? Our experts emphasized the importance of using the best possible ingredients, the often overlooked yet crucial bun, and the perfect bun-to-patty ratio.
“[Proper] bread to patty ratio [makes a good burger]. When you bite into it, you should be able to identify the layers of flavors and the beef itself,” Chef Miko said.
“A good burger has that perfect ratio all throughout. Every bite [has the] same flavor from beginning to end. It's not too sloppy, it's something you can eat with your hands. And I'm such a stickler for eating a burger with your hands over using utensils. If a burger can be eaten with your hands, I think that's a good burger. It doesn't drip too much. You want it to be juicy, but you don't want it to be sloppy. It has all the right textures with umami and having your perfect bun. People don't understand that the bun plays such a crucial role. Everything should have that perfect bite and perfect ratio,” explains Chef Ed.
Aside from the balance between bread and (non-)meat, Chef Luis also mentioned the importance of properly cooking or preparing the components.
“A good burger must use good quality beef, must be seasoned right, and cooked until a nice crust is formed on the outer edges of the beef,” Chef Luis shared. “Crisp fresh lettuce and tomatoes must be used [and] a well balanced dressing. And just as important, a nice bun — toasted on the inside and pillowy soft on the outside.”
For National Burger Day (May 28), we’ve put together a list of the newest additions to the growing roster of must-try burgers in Metro Manila. Disclaimer: We know they’re awesome, but you won’t find established favorites like 8Cuts, Sweet (X) Ecstasy, Pound, Beefier at The Grid Food Market, or even Popeye’s Spicy Chicken Burger (despite this writer’s recent encounter of the yummy kind) in this list, because we only included burgers that were launched within the lockdown period (from March 2020 up to date of posting).
Now, let’s get our burger on!
The Best New Burgers In Town
The Best New Burgers In Town
By Metro.StyleJune 06 2021, 6:47 AM
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French Onion Burger, Lazy Oeuf by Metronome
No burger has any business being this good, but somehow they managed to do it. Their house-made brioche bun is crisp on the outside and fluffy inside, deliciously buttery all throughout. The Angus beef patties are tender and incredibly juicy — almost to the point of obscenity. They let the great quality of meat do the talking and it told me “you’ve never had beef patties like this before”. The caramelized onions, at first glance, were a bit on the lighter side, but it complemented the richness of the burger beautifully. The mornay sauce adds creaminess without overwhelming your tastebuds with too much dairy (for once in my life I didn’t feel the need to add more cheese). The foie gras — an added cost, but definitely worth it — was seared just right with its caramelized surface and lusciously creamy interior. It added another layer of flavor and texture to the burger without stealing the spotlight. Instead it was the veteran supporting actress in this star-studded ensemble. To order, send a Viber/SMS/WhatsApp to (0917) 147-3776. Check out @lazyoeufbymetronome on Instagram.
Let’s Do Brunch Burger, The Burger Library by Discovery Primea
Their Let’s Do Brunch Burger has smoked bacon and a sunny-side-up egg on top of two beef patties, juicy tomatoes, and fresh lettuce. Their signature Gilarmi Sauce gives it a bit of a kick, just enough to tickle your tastebuds as the creamy egg yolk counters the subtle heat.
“We have always wanted to do a selection of burgers. This stemmed from our successful burger offering called ‘The Gilarmi’ burger. A lot of patrons visit The Gilarmi Lounge and order it. It took us about three weeks to brainstorm, recipe test, and launch the Burger Library,” says Chef Luis. “What sets our burgers apart, I would say, would be all the ingredients that make up each of our burgers. We select quality ingredients from the beef that we use to the signature sauce, lettuce and tomatoes to complement the beef. We also use cooking techniques to ensure the moistness of the patty as well as giving it a delicious crusty edge. Another important component to our burger is the bun which is baked fresh from our pastry kitchen.” To order, call (02) 7955-8888 or order Tapenade-On-The-Go at FoodPanda or GrabFood. Check out @discoveryprimea on Instagram.
“We've always had a burger on the menu for the longest time. It was a fun, funky burger - beef and bacon burger. We found out at the end of the day that people just want a plain good burger,” recalled Chef Ed. “[Components include] caramelized onions, crisp dill pickles, house-made burger sauce, american cheese. We said we wanted to do something fun, so we made it double stacked to give it some heft and perfect balance between the meat and the buns. We want every bite to be the perfect bite. [For] smash burgers, you really want to smash it on to the griddle so it forms a nice chewy crust with a bit of burnt edges. I think that adds a new flavor dimension because it's not just one tone all throughout. You get a bit of the nice softness, chewy parts, and then the crispy edges.” To order, Viber (0945) 798-5176 or order via FB Messenger. Check out @mimiandbros on Instagram.
Buffalo Chicken Burger, Burger Beast by Chef Carlo Miguel
If you’re a fan of extreme burgers, Chef Carlo Miguel (who was the man behind some of your favorites from Todd English Food Hall, Sunnies Café, Bench Café, Pound, and Hook) pulled all the stops and came up with show-stopping burgers for Burger Beast, a delivery-only burger joint available via food delivery apps. He amped up his take on the classic chicken burger by giving it a game day twist: his signature buffalo sauce, bleu cheese, tomato, lettuce, and his version of coleslaw. It’s tangy, savory, and spicy without damaging your senses. Available via GrabFood or foodpanda. Check out @burgerbeastph on Instagram.
For seafood lovers, we all know the Japanese have perfected their way around ebi (shrimp or prawns). At Nanka Japanese Cuisine in Quezon City, they turned the no-fail prawn tempura into a Japanese-inspired burger that’s heavy on substance and flavor. The Nanka Ebi Burger has three premium
prawns fried to golden perfection while maintaining its juicy and tender interior, they slather it with their own wasabi mayonnaise and top it with fresh lettuce and tomatoes then sandwich all of it between homemade brioche buns. To order, call (0977) 621-8472 or (02) 8517-9677. Check out @nankaph on Facebook or @nanka_ph on Instagram.
For those who are in the mood to get messy, Burger Jack’s All-Out Burger is a must-try. It has bacon, Italian peppers, melty blue cheese, caramelized onions, fried egg, jalapenos, honey mustard, and special house sauce all covered in their signature chili con carne for that perfect spice-laden savory bite. It’s the best kind of sloppy. Order at bit.ly/BurgerJackMaginhawa or through www.kravers-canteencom. Also available on GrabFood or foodpanda. Check out @burgerjackph on Facebook.
By now we already know that Wildflour doesn’t play around when it comes to serving good food realness. And when they launched their line of Wildflour Burgers, only one burger stood out for this writer: their Pastrami Burger. It’s the meat combo you never knew you needed. It’s got their signature homemade buns, premium ground beef, American cheese, mustard, and of course a heaping mound of sliced pastrami.
“Through the years, we’ve earned a loyal following for the burgers we serve at Wildflour so we thought, ‘Hey, we can do this customer favorite right, why not go all out with it?’,” they wrote on their website. “We feel that with the difficult times we’ve been facing the past year, this is the perfect time for people to drown their sorrows and ease their stresses with honest-to-goodness comfort food.” Order through GrabFood or via the Wildflour app. Check out @wildflourtogo or @wildflourburger on Instagram.
Piri Piri Grilled Chicken Burger, Spicebird, The Grid Food Market
This island favorite has been serving us the best of the beach’s bold flavors that makes us wax nostalgic of sunsets spent by the shores of award-winning Boracay. But when they launched their new Grilled Chicken Burger earlier this year, they paired it with their new Firebird Sauce and it lit our mouths on fire. Don’t get me wrong, the sauce was delicious, but it’s gonna blow your socks off. It’s the kind of spice that hurts but the food is so damn good that if you stop eating it you just know you’re going to regret it. But don’t worry, you don’t have to get the Firebird Sauce when you order the Grilled Chicken Burger in all its generous chunky smokey goodness. For order information, check out @spicebirdgrill or @thegridfoodmarket on Instagram. Also available via GrabFood.
Chef Josh Boutwood and his team offers different take-out options almost every weekend, so every weekend could be a new discovery when it comes to your burger journey. One week, it could be their Buffalo Chicken Sandwich with chipotle slaw and house dill pickles or Maple Bourbon-Glazed Chicken Sandwich with ranch dressing, lettuce, tomato, and onions. Next week, it could be an unnamed behemoth of a burger with a freshly ground patty made of Iberico pulled pork, cola bbq sauce, thick cut bacon, and colby cheese served with a side of onion rings. Or it could be Bacon Cheddar Cheese Burger with chipotle sauce or their Double Mozzarella & House-Pickled Hot Gherkin Burger. The only way to know is to follow them on Facebook and watch out for their announcements. To pre-order, call or text (0977) 288-5751. Check out @thetestkitchenmnl on Instagram.
Now we’ve come to the non-meat portion of our list. Hardcore chicken burger lovers know that Fowlbread ranks high on the fowl burger list, but recently the team behind this little stall in BGC launched the Scam Chicken Burger, which they described as “a very convincing fake chicken tofu sandwich for those who want to cut back on meat.” The patty is made with tofu and got the same treatment as their OG Fried Chicken Sandwich and the chicken skin cracker is actually tofu skin. As for the spice level, it’s available in Safe, Spicy, and Chemical. Fowlbread also mentioned that the tofu patty and cracker are fried in the same fryer used for actual chicken meat, so vegans may need to consider this before ordering. Still, if you’re a carnivore who’s looking to cut back on meat consumption, this is a good way to start. To order online, click on the link below. Check out @fowlbread on Instagram.
Vegan Burger, Take Me Out by Novotel Manila Araneta Center
While some restaurants offering vegan burgers are using commercially available pre-made patties (like Beyond Meat), Take Me Out by Novotel Manila Araneta Center makes their own patties for their meat-free take on this comfort food classic. Simply called the Vegan Burger, the patty is made of dry legumes and natural seasoning and topped with white onions, tomatoes, pickles, and fresh lettuce from their very own El Dorado Farm. It’s flavorful and surprisingly juicy. The sweetness of the relish somehow amplifies the savoriness of the patty. Each burger comes with a side of fries. To order, call (02) 8990-7999, (0949) 886-5591, or email H7090-FB1@accor.com. Check out @NovotelManilaAranetaCity on Instagram. (Photo by Ching Dee/ IG: @foodchingeats)