When we visited Burger Joint at Amoy Street on a Sunday evening, it was full-house, and the crowd moved in and out quickly (it doesn’t take long to eat a burger). I was surprised because the CBD area is a ghost town on weekends, yet people do make their way to the Burger Joint.
It’s not hard to see why people are willing to come here on weekends. Besides the accolade that it is the Best Burger in New York, the whole speakeasy ambience is attractive to hipsters. It’s at the back alley of Amoy Street, or more accurately, it’s along the small, secretive, meandering Gemmill Lane, which connects the more famous Club Street to Amoy Street. There is merely a neon sign of a burger beside a heavy iron door.
When you’re inside, the wooden wainscoting feels like you’re in the cabin of some backwater, Confederate-flag-flying redneck’s hut.
I sometimes think hipsters have a checklist of what is considered cool: back alley, no signboard, secret, speakeasy, casual but exclusive, tattooed staff. And Burger Joint ticks all the boxes, which makes it very… kitschy and immature, instead of cool. It’s a mimicry, and it’s not authentic to self. But maybe I’m old, what do I know of such things?
The menu is handwritten on cardboard torn from boxes, and it is taped at the counter when you make your order.
As this was the first time I was at Burger Joint, I took some time to read the menu. It’s actually just burger and you can add different ingredients to it: cheese, bacon, jalapeño, or make it a double pattied.
As I took maybe 15s to decide, the cashier grew impatient. She yawned and looked bored. When I ordered, she didn’t pay attention, and repeated the wrong order. I told her the order was incorrect, and she made me feel like it was my fault, and that I am stupid and slow.
Actually when I first saw her, I liked her because she looked like the Asian version of the bend-and-snap Paulette in Legally Blonde (see video above). And I love Paulette. But after ordering, I was so confused. Did I still like her or not? I mean, her ultra-cool, super-bored, and condescending attitude goes with the joint, right? But why did I feel slighted? Maybe she was having a bad day. Let’s give people the benefit of the doubt.
By the way, there is service charge, even though customers order at the counter and pick up our own food when they shout out our numbers.
So… The burgers. The burgers contrast greatly with the place. The burgers are made neatly, carefully, as opposed to the pococurante vibe of the place; the burgers are very different from Meatliquor and Butcher Club in that ML and BC serve big, masculine, greasy, messy, and almost careless burgers whereas BJ’s version comes in neat, clean, small, almost oil-less package. The bun is nice and the burgers are tasty… but, as personal preference, I really don’t like neat burgers; neat burgers defeat the purpose of eating burgers in the first place. Burgers should be greasy, messy, bold.
Between the Jalapeno Bacon cheese burger ($16.80) and bacon cheese burger ($15.80), the one with jalapeño is better because it gives an additional flavor of acidity. The green pepper here is sourer and sharper than the usual jalapeño, but it works for me.
As burgers go, they are nice but they are indistinguishable. To use an analogy, BJ’s burgers are like a young prodigy who plays the piano accurately note by note, and there are hundreds of child prodigies, whereas ML’s and BC’s burgers are jazz pianists, they make mistakes, they are rough, but they are bold and unique and individualistic.
The shoestring fries ($5.50) are like the best McDonald’s fries you tasted. I mean this as a compliment, it’s crispy and fluffy. Very addictive.
While the burgers and fries are reasonably priced, the drinks are expensive. I wish they give justification for the cost of their milkshake ($11.80). It was nice, I guess, very smooth, easy to suck, without any chunks, but McDonald’s has it at 25% the price right? There is also a bar here, for your alcoholic fix.
At this time, we paid $53 for two persons. But we were still hungry from the tiny burger, so we bought another jalapeño cheese burger ($14.80) to share, bringing up the total cost for two person to about $70. What was strange was that the first order had only service charge while the second time included service charge and GST. Shrugs. ==> Yay! I can adopt the ultra-cool, super-bored, I-don’t-care attitude too. Ok, no cheering==>now I’m not cool again.
Burger Joint New York
115 Amoy Street #01-03 Singapore 069935
T: +65 6221 8648
M-W 11.30am-11pm, Th-Sat 11.30am-12am, Sun 11.30am-8pm
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.