Not trying to bark up my own tree but burgers are a topic that I could confidently debate about. I have had my fair share of the delicacy in my short 21 years of living in Auckland and built a strong body of knowledge that I take great pride in. To me, a burger is more than just a sandwich with triple the saturated fat. It’s more than just fast, convenient and sometimes cheap. It’s a comfort food that brings sanity which is why I think so many people opt for burgers when “cheating” on their strict diet. Auckland is no stranger to burgers; we’re almost overwhelmed with choice. In my experience, some have been unmemorable, others have been outright fucking shameful but you get those occasional ones that make your eyes roll to the back of your head. Here are my top five burgers of Auckland – this is just my opinion.
Simon & Lee
KOREAN FRIED CHICKEN BURGER
115 St Georges Bay Rd, Parnell
Korean fried chicken is everything you want in fried chicken and more, but only when it’s done right. Simon & Lee have cracked the code to get that batter light, fluffy and transparent yet crispy while the chicken remains juicy and tender. This cafe/restaurant is one of the very few eateries that serve real Korean fried chicken and are respectful enough to include cheese in their chicken burger. There is a misconception that chicken burgers and sandwiches don’t deserve the humble slice of dairy, which confuses me as the majority of people request to add it to their order. Simon & Lee saves everyone the hassle of that extra step but you do have to choose your marinade from Safe Spicy and Danger Spicy. Danger Spicy all the way as you won’t get far in life by being safe.
BEEF & CHEESE
Ponsonby, Newmarket and Takapuna
Everyone used to froth Burger Burger when they just had one store in Ponsonby. Then they became successful, expanded, tall poppy syndrome kicked in and it became a trend to turn our back on them. Put your ego aside and admit that this is a textbook burger. The light, toasted, fluffy bun is just dense and carby enough to comfort the soul but let the fillings shine through. They’re slathered in sweet tomato jam and then you get that smoky, juicy beef patty seasoned with a heavy dash of salt and pepper because bland burgers are a crime. The melted cheddar cheese makes it naughtier and you get the zingy pickles for crunchiness and tangy mustard which is balanced out with creamy mayo. All three essential sauces are utilised in perfect harmony, the patty oozes with meat juice and the compulsory cheese creates a complete burger that has no faults.
The White Lady (on a good day)
WHITE LADY BURGER, NO PINEAPPLE, ADD HASH BROWN
Corner Commerce & Fort Streets
The White Lady has its off days as the chefs don’t give two shits about quality sometimes, but give them some leeway as they’re on the grind for 24 hours. If you haven’t finished off your night sloshed out of your mind with a White Lady Burger, you haven’t been to Auckland. The heavy white buns are balanced out with equally heavy fillings consisting of a thick beef patty and scotch steak… and bacon. The salty meats are evened out with the slightly sweet Colby cheese, caramelised grilled onions and fried egg with a sexy, runny yolk. The fresh lettuce and tomatoes are highly necessary as this burger could put you into cardiac arrest but the fruit is just pushing it too far. Take out that grilled pineapple and add a crispy hash brown as the combination of carbs on carbs is genius and this saves you from getting a side of fries.
Big J’s Takeaways
SUPER STEAK BURGER
4/1 Melton Rd, Mt. Wellington
Big J’s Super Steak Burger is a loaded beast but sober minds and bodies will be able to handle it. The classic sesame buns are filled with bacon and, most importantly, garlic-and- herb marinated steak. Be sure to request that the steak be cooked medium rare as that is the only way steak should be enjoyed. The sautéed mushrooms and cheddar cheese make the burger hearty, soulful kai and it has the ability to destress a person with anxiety. All of Big J’s burgers come with grilled onions, lettuce, tomato and aioli in the perfect ratio. Just a single sheet of lettuce because nobody wants too much green in a burger, three to four slices of tomato without the watery centre and a generous slathering of their aioli to keep the burger from being dry which is the last thing you want.
Xi’an Food Bar
CUMIN LAMB BURGER
This burger, otherwise known as a roujiamo, does not tick even half the boxes to make a traditional burger. But if Xi’an Food Bar calls it a burger on their menu, it’s a burger. For just $5.50 you get a toasted flatbread stuffed to the brim with chunks of meat. Although it lacks in terms of the variation of elements, it certainly does not lack in flavour. The sliced lamb is cooked to have a good chew which contrasts the crispy flatbread and the lamb is drenched in a spicy chilli sauce. Then it’s seasoned with basically a whole tub of pepper and cumin which make up for the absence of sauce and vegetables. Cheese is usually a mandatory ingredient for me when it comes to burgers but Xi’an is an exception. That cumin spice is so good that you don’t want anything to mild it out.