What defines a good burger? In my opinion – taken from years of munching burgers from certified fast food chains like McDonalds, In and Out, and Wendys to even high society burgers found at hotel restaurants like Felix at the Peninsula, and everything else in between – a burger is a piece of finely ground beef roasted over hot charcoal and served in toasted sesame seed bun preferably with a reasonable selection of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, some onions and a dressing of your choice – in my case thousand island or honey mustard. You can keep your pickle. The burger patty has to be done just enough so it retains its juiciest flavour without any hint of burnt meat – a common occurrence when the cook is paying attention to anything else but the patty itself. Mind you some people like their burgers burned to the point where half the meat resembles a roasted corpse after a fire engulf an entire shopping mall. The worst burgers are from the likes of McDonalds where you can never be sure if what you are eating is beef or something that resembles synthetic meat.
I took my daughter for a quick bite at Gourmet Burger Union (GBU) on 21 D’Aguilar Street, Lan Kwai Fong in Hong Kong one hot Saturday noon. I bought a couple of coupons with me that I got from uBuyibuy. Each coupon was valued at HK$60 and says I can buy any food I want from the joint.
The menu was impressive (a.k.a. priced on the upmarket side). The service was questionable as the kitchen was tiny (I saw a frier, oven toaster, a small fridge and storage). For the prices they offer, you’d expect a comparable location like those of Outback restaurants. In fact their cheapest burger – the Kick Ass – was priced at HK$48. What was surprising is that their selection of drinks is expensive. I ordered a Pepsi (my mistake) and paid HK$20 for what is arguably a HK$3.80 can of drink of the local grocer.
As you come through the main door, you will see a sign welcoming you with an offer for a set burger meal – Kick Ass with fries and softdrink – for HK$58. I was told by the ‘host’ – Mariella – no set meals! I didn’t complain and proceeded to order.
A young dishevelled youth wearing a t-shirt toasted the buns, put together the burger, iceberg lettuce, tomato slice (it was pathetic slice – I love my tomatoes) and added thousand island dressing – without asking me what I wanted. Twelve minutes later the burger was served. I have to admit my daughter’s chocolate shake was good but I’d expect that for HK$38. It wasn’t ground-breaking but it was ok.
The Kick Ass burger itself was a dry beef patty with a hint of oil dripping on the side. Nothing special and again I’d take an Outback regular burger anytime. I’d get a large serving of fries, soup, vege salad and cold drink to go with the burger for about HK$80 (which was what I paid for my GBU burger and can of Pepsi). And none of these plastic cutlery. What more can I ask?
Would I recommend GBU? I’d say ‘hell yes stay away’ unless you are craving for just any burger and have money to burn. It’s a few notches better than Wendys but definitely a little lower than another burger joint – Monster Burger or Triple O. I’d say GBU is comparable to another gourmet burger joint – Shake ‘Em Buns (SEB). If you pit the two together, I’d give SEB a better rating than GBU only because the location is better plus they are very creative with the names of their burgers – although to be honest the names may be fantastic, for example ‘Debbie Does Dallas’, but the actual burgers leave much to be desired.
If you are truly craving for a nice burger meal while in Hong Kong, go for Triple O or Outback Steakhouse. You won’t be disappointed when your order arrives at your table.