MANILA -- Chef Carlo Miguel is on a quest for the perfect burger and Boutique Burgers Kitchen (BBK) is his personal proving ground for his hunt.
In this little corner of The Fort Strip in Bonifacio Global City that harkens back to a 1950s soda fountain, the burger is king. Even the appetizers and sides are meant to prepare your taste buds for the burgers. Fried pickles, skinny and fat fries, and haystack onions are a delightful way to start your meal.
The patties used in all the burgers are made according to the chef’s exacting specifications from three years of research and experimentation. The patties start out as a mix of Greater Omaha Black Angus, Snake River, and Kitayama Wagyu.
This blend is passed through the meat grinder at least three times before forming meat logs from where 1/3-lb patties are sliced off as one would do with cuts of steak.
Miguel said he had been wanting to serve burgers like these at his other restaurants, Draft and Brewery. However, the process of just making the patties were too labor-intensive, taking up to three hours per batch.
The bread used in his burgers is also different, taking six months of back and forth discussion with his supplier. Miguel fervently believes that burgers are meant to be held in your hands as you chomp it down. The variation of Hokkaido milk buns that BBK ended up using holds up the patty and fillings well and at the same time, decidedly gives a different creamier container for the burger.
Taking a bite from the Classic Cheeseburger, the patty does show off its nice open texture while still being juicy. This back-to-basics variant is a nice introduction to BBK before attacking the heftier specialty burgers like the Aussie Burger, Miguel’s tribute to his Australian roots loaded with beetroot, cheddar cheese, fried egg, pineapple, grilled onions and BBQ sauce. All the sauces are made in the kitchen including the specialty ketchup and BBQ sauce.
Perhaps the best way to sample the unadulterated patty is to get the burger rice meal as you get to experience the bare meatiness of the melt-in-your-mouth patty with just gravy on top of garlic fried rice.
For variety, the lunch menu also features fried chicken, nuggets and rice, and fish and chips. Miguel is quick to point out that these are not the British variety that are served with malt vinegar. Rather, these are the Australian kind, accompanied with tartar sauce instead.
What is surprising are the array of non-beef burgers available in the menu. Miguel assured us that they have the same level of meticulousness as the ones made of beef.
The veggie burger is of note as the mycoprotein patty is almost indistinguishable from a beef patty in terms of texture and taste, and is a far cry from previous vegetarian meat substitutes.
It is pricey, but for someone on a diet or those abstaining from meat, this burger is heaven-sent.
Going back to the concept of the soda fountain, the perfect drink to wash down Miguel’s food are his craft sodas. Elderflower, a soda ingredient that’s popular in Europe, makes an appearance on his drink menu mixed in with apple.
Not filling enough? Slurp down what BBK brags to be the thickest shakes in town made with their own ice cream. The Salted Caramel shake stands out with what I think has one of the most definitive “salted caramel”-iness of anything I’ve tasted locally.
If you still have room for dessert, have a scoop or two of BBK’s home churned ice cream. This is the same ice cream used for the shakes. The Mango Meringue Sundae is for those with a sweet tooth and can really leave you with a sugar high.
Not into ice cream? The New York Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce will hit the spot.
The burgers are first-rate, and yet they come out of the kitchen fast. Miguel recalled an instance when the restaurant suddenly had a party of 60 hungry walk-in guests. The group was so large that they had to set up tables outside the restaurant. He proudly added that it in 30 minutes, his team had hot food for that everybody in that group.
“Gourmet fast-food” may seem like an oxymoron, but in BBK’s case, it is a major compliment.
This is Miguel’s comfort zone as BBK embodies his philosophy of applying fine dining techniques to humble dishes. With this mindset, he’s on his way to crossing the finish line in his pursuit of the better burger.