Makansutra: Jewel of a burger at Shake Shack
Shake Shack's burgers and shakes are worth the wait
I love a good burger.
It is a world heritage food and every Earthling falls for a good one.
But spare me the "press-button" fast-food burgers that come with buns that look like they have been run over by a truck, shrivelled, and with the nasty patty still inside.
I had my first Shake Shack burger over 10 years ago in New York City with Ed Levine, the founder of makan website Serious Eats.
I remember vividly just how it struck me.
I saw the elbow grease production kitchen in the middle of its flagship Madison Square Park shack and I knew its burgers were not slick production lines, stack-and-go kind of sandwiches.
So when Shake Shack opened at Jewel Changi Airport, I had to do a comparison, since I was slated for a trip to the Big Apple.
At its first Singapore outlet, it was a good 11/2hours from queue to the first bite on a Monday morning.
I was there an hour before it opened at 10am, and first in line were some off-duty army boys, who had been in the queue since 7.45am.
I started with the Shroom Burger ($10.80), a deep fried portobello cheese patty with tomato and lettuce sitting between a soft fluffy sweet-ish bun.
It was as juicy as I remembered.
The thing that struck me was how the whole burger looks like what you see in the promotional pictures.
That is honesty, and not many other burger giants do that (not even hawkers).
Five millimetres into the Shroom patty and I felt the texture, aroma and flavour of the portobello - the fresh tomato and lettuce were a bonus.
It was the same as the Madison Square Park version except for one detail - the Shroom patty there was drier, but everything else was spot on.
Next up was the SmokeShack ($10.90), a cheeseburger with applewood smoked bacon.
At Jewel, this came airy, loose, crispy, shiny, meaty and beckoning, with all that drippy cheese daring you.
The original in New York looked a lot less proud but was just as good.
Of course I had to try the good old ShackBurger ($9.20), a classic cheeseburger with lettuce and tomato.
Both versions were good but I found the Jewel version a smidgen juicier.
Do not miss out on the iconic shakes as they do not disappoint.
I took three sips - I normally approve by the second - of the Common Man Coffee milkshake because it deserved my time.
It was a dense sweet treat, but a tad too sweet for a siew dai kopi lover like me.
Skip the Singapore-exclusive pandan shake as it felt too flavour-additive perfect, sort of like Yakun kaya turned into a milkshake.
The burger brand has over 160 outlets done this well.
If you happen to be in New York, do devour one of the best there - the Suprema Burger (U$19, or S$26) at Suprema Provisions cafe (305 Bleecker Street) run by ex-Bourdain Market maverick Stephen Werther.
The patty alone is made with short rib, brisket and porterhouse corners - enough said.
Jewel Changi Airport, #02-256
10am to 10pm daily