Shake Shack – Las Vegas

Shake Shack – Las Vegas

Yes, it’s yet another post about burgers and I don’t care, I love burgers!

This time around, it’s the incredibly popular American burger chain, Shake Shack in Las Vegas. Located as part of the New York-New York casino building, Shake Shack is right on the Las Vegas Strip. Their delicious menu can be found here.

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Because I was staying at the same hotel at NYNY I had the opportunity to make several trips to the Shack to try as many of their offerings as I can. Over the course of 3 separate visits, yes three, I personally tasted the Double Smoke ShackShack Stack, and  Chick’n Shack with a portobello mushroom patty added. And when I had a couple of dining partners along on one of my trips they opted to go with the Shack Burger and  Single Smoke Shack. Side dish wise, we had the regular crinkle cut fries, as well as the cheesy version, along with a couple of their milkshakes and some “concrete”, essentially a cup of extra extra thick milkshake.

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My first burger consumption was the double Smoke Shack and it was a welcoming first bite into what Shake Shack has to offer. Bun was fresh and soft, cheese was melted just right and on point, spices were good providing just enough of a kick but not overpowering, and the bacon was crisp and smokey. The biggest weakness of the burger was the patty itself, it felt a bit overcooked and dry. But the rest of the ingredients more than made up for it, the raw smokiness with the spicy flavour along scored this burger a 3.7 out of 5.0 in my mind.

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Next up was the Shack Stack, which was a cheese burger with a portobello mushroom patty added. To say I’m a mushroom lover would lying, so it is probably no surprise that I was quite pleased with the Shack Stack burger. The angus beef patty was more juicy this time around than the one in the Smoke Shack burger and it improved the flavouring by a good parsec just by not being overcooked and dry. And the portobello mushroom had a crunchy fried shell while remaining tender and juicy on the inside, the sauce and juice oozing out of it engulfed the rest of the burger in an explosion of tastiness. A solid 4.2 out of 5.0 for this one.

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Last up, but certainly not the least, was the chicken burger with a portobello mushroom patty added. To say I underestimated the size of this burger would be a massive understatement. The chicken was spot on with a crispy exterior while maintaining a juicy and tender interior. A dry piece of chicken breast this was not. And the portobello mushroom patty was even better this time around, I had no idea that was even possible given how great it was in the Shack Stack. Every good quality about it was turned up a notch, exterior was more crispy while the inside was even more juicy than it was on my first encounter. The only con I could put against this beauty would be the pickles that came with it. While it provided a nice contrast in flavour to complement the savoury components of the burger, the texture of the pickles did not quite fit in with the rest, in my opinion. Overall, it scores a good 4.0 out of 5.0 for me, but without the portobello mushroom add-on the score would be a 3.5 out of 5.0.

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I was pleasantly surprised that Shake Shack was able to live up to all the hype I had heard about it coming into this encounter, nay, it surpassed all the hype and exceeded my already lofty expectations of it. Having tasted nearly the entire burger menu I can safely say that their burger game is ridiculous, everything looks gorgeous and tastes even better. And their unique twist of having one continuous bun, instead of the traditional open two-bun approach, helps to further distinguish themselves from competitors. In terms of the side offerings, the fries were great, not too salty and had the right amount of crispiness to them, I would opt to put some cheese on them to make them even better. Milkshakes were super thick, tasty, and not overly sweet, and the concrete shakes had huge chunks of ingredients mixed in, they didn’t skimp on anything with this one. In conclusion, I highly recommend going to a Shake Shack and indulge yourself if you’re lucky enough to have one nearby. You can’t go wrong with any of the items on their menu.

Zomato Review

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Mister Gee – Haberfield

Mister Gee – Haberfield

So here goes my first review of an establishment outside of the Sydney CBD! Having finally made my way to the famous Mister Gee after months of salivating at other people’s pictures of their loot from the burger truck with a cult following. It’s like wanting the toy other children have been playing with and finally getting it as a present after waiting for what seems like forever.

Upon arrival, I immediately noticed the long line of people queuing from the burger trucker as I drove by the car lot Mister Gee sets up shop at in Haberfield here in Sydney’s Inner West. I literally had to drive around for about 10 minutes just to find a spot to park, and then it was another wait of about 15 minutes standing in the queue. The fact that a lot of people were making orders for three times their group size didn’t help!

But it was all worth the travel and wait at the end. I had ordered the Truffe with bacon – $13 along with Truffle fries – $5. Perhaps I should have asked for a double as all the pictures on Instagram of the double Truffe are making me regret that I didn’t get the same, but I wanted to taste the burger as the chef had intended it. Don’t want the truffle butter experience ruined by greediness, do we?

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Midway through my first bite of the truffle goodness, I realised what all the rage about Mister Gee was, why they have such a strong cult following of loyal customers that would line up for half an hour in the rain just to get a taste of their burger. The Truffe was divine, the patty melted away in my mouth in the midst of the ever flowing truffle butter. I was amazed the burger was able to keep its shape and stay together when everything melted so perfectly as soon as they entered my talking hole. The bacon was crisp and distinguished with a smokey flavour, one can easily appreciate its individual goodness even while the truffle melted patty is having a flavour explosion right next to it. The truffle-ness is strong with this one, encompassing every aspect of the burger while somehow leaving enough room for the individual highlights of the other ingredients to shine through.

The fries, on the other hand, were good and played the complementary side dish well but they were just a tad too salty for my liking. I really wanted to finish them all but just couldn’t quite complete the challenge due to the slightly-overwhelming saltiness of the spuds. I did manage to scoop up all the truffle though, before abandoning the rest. Can’t waste the truffle butter!

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It was an experience unlike any other, I am now officially a fan of the cult-favourite burger truck that is Mister Gee. The Truffe more than lived up to its namesake and I cannot wait to get my hands on the other offerings they have in the future.

My one and only con against the truffle goodness is that it felt a bit too greasy and I was left with a bit of unpleasant aftertaste when I was done with the burger, but I suppose that is to be expected when you set your sights on some truffle butter. And like I previously mentioned, the fries were a bit too salty for my taste. But all in all, it was great and gets a score of 4.0 out of 5.0 pickles from me.

For the FBAS folks:

The Truffe – 4.0 out of 5.0 pickles

Spuds – 3.0 out of 5.0 pickles

Zomato Review

Rockpool Bar and Grill – Sydney CBD

Rockpool Bar and Grill – Sydney CBD

It’s been a while since my last post so I thought I’d go back to basics and review the one thing that stoked my interest in food blogging in the first place, a burger! And don’t worry, I’ll start reviewing places that’s not in the CBD soon.

So I finally got the chance to check out the famous Rockpool Bar & Grill this past Thursday when one of my workmates suggested visiting for a nice work lunch, to which I gladly obliged. Located in the heart of the Sydney CBD, and just a few minutes walk from our office, it makes for a prime gathering spot for anyone in the city that fancy a nice establishment to whet their palette. And the first thing I noticed when we walked in were the exquisite marble columns in the main fine dining section of the restaurant, it’s a shame I did not get the opportunity to snap a few pictures but it is a truly beautiful sight. The bar section where our group sat was impeccably furnished as well, hanging above us was essentially a giant chandelier made up of hundreds of wine glasses that gave the bar a really upscale feel.

Enough about the décor though, you’re here to read about delicious foods! Rockpool’s burger selection was slightly limited in that they only had on offer the Full Blood Wagyu Hamburger – $24 and the Grass Fed Mishima Burger – $21, and I went with the full blood wagyu because it was their more popular choice.

After about a 30 minute wait, all of our burgers were brought out at the same time. That’s my biggest concern with dining in a medium to large group, most of the times the restaurant would bring everyone’s food out in one go so nobody is left sitting there with nothing in front of them but, more often than not, someone’s food is a bit colder due to the wait. But thankfully that was not the case with my burger though.

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I am surprised I didn’t create a drool puddle as I was taking the pictures as the burger looked as good as any I have ever had. The wagyu patty was humongous, the pictures don’t really do it justice in terms of how big it was in real life, the cheese was on point and the bacon sitting perfectly on top of both of them. Oh and there were some grilled vegetables stacked on top of the cheese and meat, with some more off to the side of the burger in what I assumed was an attempt to add some decoration to the plate while also trying to fill the empty space that should’ve been occupied by some fries that came with the burger order. While I am on this tangent, no, the $24 price tag of the burger does not entitle you to some french fries, or chips as they would call it here in Australia. If you want some potato goodies to go along with your meat sandwich you would have to either cough up $6 more for shoestring fries or $12 for hand cut chips. Yep, Rockpool chips cost more than an entire lunch at most other places in the city.

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Anyway, back to the burger itself, I had wholeheartedly wanted to embrace and love this burger given how beautiful it looked and how grand the establishment is but it just wasn’t meant to be. The patty, while huge and having a good amount of juice from being done medium-rare, did not have much flavouring to it. That would usually be okay if the rest of the burger complemented it with added flavours but that was not the case here. The cheese and bacon added very little flavour, I could not really taste the bacon at all actually, it also was not very crispy so it didn’t accomplish much on the texture front either. And the vegetables, while being a nice and unique touch that added some good texture to the bite, did not show up to the flavouring game either. It was as if they had decided to leave all condiments in the pantry and let the customers mix and match their own flavours. But for $24 I was not inclined to do extra work aside from sliding the burger down my gullet. It’s kind of like an amateur athlete that looks really good on paper, has off the chart measurables and drill results that get drafted really high and then flop once they play in actual games.

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To summarise, I was disappointed with the execution of the burger even though it aced the visual checklist. The lack of flavouring was its biggest downfall while most of the ingredients for success were there between the buns. I would give it another try somewhere down the line, I just hope whenever that is they would have added more flavours to their burger by then, as well as made the bacon better and a more integral part of the burger. My grade for the burger would be a 3.5 out of 5.0, with much room to improve. Grade for the fries/chips, a 0.5 out of 5.0. I mean, seriously, why?

For the FBAS folks:

Burger – 3.5/5.0 pickles

Spuds – 0.5/5.0 pickles

Zomato Review

Belly Bao – Sydney CBD

Belly Bao – Sydney CBD

After hearing many good reviews for it, I decided to try out the famous Belly Bao myself, along with a bunch of friends from work so I don’t turn into the guy that eats in a dark corner, in a basement pub, by himself.

Sitting on Liverpool Street here in the Sydney CBD, it’s an ideal spot for any after-work outings with officemates or just catching up with friends. On this occasion, my work friends and I were coming straight outta an escape room.

With 14 people in tow, our humongous order included the likes of: BBC (Belly Bao fried chicken for the uninitiated and/or dirty-minded), Sweet Potato Fries, Papaya Salad, That Slaw, Crackling Roast Pork Belly Bao, Slow Braised Pork Belly Bao, Panko Crumbed Chicken Breast Bao, Soft Shell Crab Bao, Slow Braised Beef Short Rib Bao, and the Crispy Tofu Bao. So essentially 90% of the entire menu, but we did miss out on the famous Baoger due to it only being available on Thursdays. Pricing-wise, most of the items on the menu started out at $6.50.

As much as I would have liked to try a bit of everything that we ordered, my limited stomach space just wouldn’t allow it. However, I was able to manage a few pieces of the fried chicken that several of my compadres had ordered and kindly offered to me. While the fried outer layer was good it was not quite as crispy as I was hoping for, if KFC fried chicken’s crispiness is a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10, the Belly Bao chicken would get a score of 6 for how crispy its skin is. But once I got over the disappointment of the surface, the meat underneath was extremely tender and tasty, not a single bite of the chicken felt dry at all. The old saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” definitely applies here. Under the could-use-more-crispiness surface lies one of the best tasting fried chicken I have had. A Bryan satisfaction of 8 out of 10 for the BBC.

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Side note, in one of the other buckets of chicken my workmate had discovered a chicken feather among its fried brethren, not inside one of the chicken pieces but sitting alongside them in the bucket. While some may find it off-putting my colleague did not think it was a big deal, and I personally think it demonstrates a certain level of freshness for their ingredients.

Aside from the fried chicken, I also indulged myself in the sweet potato fries before the baos had arrived. They were done well, not overly sweet and also had a bit of spice added to it for that extra flavour on top of the natural sweetness. The spiciness was a good touch to the dish, receiving a BSAT of 7 out of 10.

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After waiting a little while longer, the main dishes came, and first up was the Panko crumbed chicken breast bao. My initial reaction was that it was smaller than expected but reminded myself that it’s not how big it is but the quality of it that matters. To that end, I have to say I wish I had picked a different item to try. The chicken was soft to the bite but didn’t feel like it had much flavour on its own, or perhaps it was overshadowed by the sauces applied to it, but it felt like I was eating bread crumbs with very little meat. It may look like a small schnitzel but it tasted more like a maccas filet burger while being slightly smaller and costing a bit more. I wouldn’t be against trying another one just to see if my first bao was an aberration, but just based on this initial experience the BSAT was a disappointing 5 out of 10.

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And finally, the one bao that I was waiting the most eagerly for, the braised pork belly. Unlike the crumbed chicken I was actually expecting the pork belly to be soft and tender to the bite, and just from the looks of the bao my hopes were sky high. The pork belly looked the part, seeming as if it will melt from the slightest touch, being held gingerly between the two buns and sitting alongside lots of traditional Taiwanese street food dressing. My high hopes were completely fulfilled upon the first bite into the bao; the pork belly tasted as soft and tender as it looked, melting away in the mouth while leaving a distinct aromatic flavour that blended perfectly with the dressing. I am glad the braised pork belly bao was delivered to our table last, no matter if by design or by happenstance, it served to erase the bad memories of the chicken bao before it and helped the meal finish on a high note. BSAT of 9 out of 10 was achieved.

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Overall, it was a very good dining experience and atmosphere inside the Belly Bao. We were there on a trivia night so the place was jam packed with very little standing room, definitely glad we had made a booking ahead of time and would recommend doing the same if you’d like to pay a visit to this place. I would personally come back again, especially on a Thursday, just to try their famous baoger, as well as the other baos that managed to escape from my clutches this time around.

Zomato Review

Bar Luca “Bacon Bad” – Sydney CBD

Bar Luca “Bacon Bad” – Sydney CBD

So this is my foray into the world of food blogging, excited! Let’s hope I can keep the posts coming consistently!

I decided today was the day (of the week) I’m going to treat myself to something special for lunch and made the trek to Bar Luca right here on 52 Phillip Street in the Sydney CBD. The weather looked beautiful, when I was still sitting in the office, it soon became a humid affair as soon as I stepped out onto the streets. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise though as the exercise helped prepare me for the feast that was about to be bestowed upon me.

Even though I was expecting great things as Bar Luca has always delivered, I was still surprised by how sneakily hefty the Bacon Bad was. It may not look as big as some of their other creations but it sure packs a mean punch! Consisting of wagyu patty, double cheddar cheese, streaky bacon, pickled jalapeños, bacon & maple jam, and smokey BBQ aioli.

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The strong flavouring of the BBQ aioli was the first thing that hit my tastebuds as soon as I bit into it, and boy, was it good! Emphasis on the smokey part, it helped bring out the natural flavours of the bacon and the patty sitting marinated inside the burger. It felt like I was sitting in a mate’s backyard and enjoying some quality BBQ.

Bacon was the perfect amount of crispiness, greasiness, and overall taste. Thank heavens it was not overly chewy, not unlike a dog toy. I mean, I wouldn’t know what a dog toy chews like, that’s just what I’ve heard…..And the other meat component of the burger, the good ol’ wagyu patty, was cooked just right with a good amount of tenderness and juiciness left packed up in that protein attraction. On top of that, throw on some double cheddar and you’ve got a cheese fanatic like myself hooked! The cheese had the perfect amount of meltiness and stability to cover all the protein parts in a flavour shell while also not making a huge mess of the rest of your plate and/or yourself. And the jalapeños were a nice addition to the burger in terms of texture, they didn’t carry the usual hotness and spice that one usually expects, and that can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your personal preference. I didn’t mind it one way or another, the extra texture that it brought to the burger was nice but having a touch of the spice would’ve been nice to add to the mixture of flavours. Consider the jalapeños fence sat!

Lastly, my favourite part of the burger, the maple jam. Perhaps I am biased towards all things maple related due to Bar Luca’s other creation that they keep on their regular menu if you’re keen to try it out, the Blame Canada burger. Either way, the maple jam complemented the BBQ aioli perfectly, like Whitney and Bobby, without the domestic violence. The maple goodness somehow permeated throughout the entire burger, even on top of all the other strong flavours. And that’s always a good thing in my book.

For the #fbas folks, 4.3/5 pickles.

Another link to Bar Luca’s site – http://barluca.com.au/

Zomato Review

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