Fat Boys – Setting a low burger bar

How can anyone who loves burgers not be intrigued by a name like Fat Boys? It holds great hope for those of us who want a real burger. Surely boys who don’t mind being called fat have to know their burgers?

Does Singapore now have a place, where we can find a good beefy burger, done right and priced affordably?

At Fat Boys, you can select from a menu of complex pre-configured burgers, or select items from the build-your-burger menu by choosing the bun type, the patty and various other options like onions, egg, bacon, mushroom, different cheeses and all sorts of sauces.

A footnote on the latter menu states that the burger comes with fries, tomato and lettuce. I’m wondering why a standard plain bun isn’t also included free, and any other bun type an upgrade of sorts. Indeed, why even differentiate between the cost of a bun? After all, Subway does this without charging extra.

The cheapest build is $8.50 – a simple burger of plain bread ($1) and a 150g beef patty ($7.50). For 50 grams of beef more, you pay a dollar more.

The best test of a burger joint, I think is a burger made as plain as possible. Simple with lettuce, tomatoes and mayo. I went with the plain bun ($1), 200g of beef ($8.50) and stepped it up with caramelized onions ($1) – a $10.50 burger.

On the condiments side, they had all sorts of sauces like their homemade BBQ sauce, wasabi mayo, sambal tumis, and of all disgusting things that could possibly be found on a burger menu – peanut butter. For everything you pay.

Plain mayo was not offered on the menu and I asked for it. Fortunately, the server said he would put it in free-of-charge.

It’s also stated that all burgers come cooked medium well. So, to up the challenge, I asked for my beef patty done to medium.

So my burger arrived. Interestingly, mine came last, even though one of my eating companions had requested for the patty at the default medium well.

200g burger patty sticking out of the bun.
200g burger patty sticking out of the bun.

So what you see above is a rather blur photo of my $10.50 200g patty beef burger.

One look at it, and my heart sank to the pits of burger hell.

“It’s a UFO! Not a burger!”

You’re only seeing one side.  The patty extends this much around the circumference of the bun. Even before I pick it up, I know all hell is going to break loose, onions flying everywhere, all over my plate, except where I want it to be – in my mouth. Forget about adding in my lettuce and tomato that comes on the side.

And no kidding guys, you get exactly one slice of tomato and one little leaf of lettuce. I get more of my daily requirement of veggies at Burger King.

You don’t have to call yourself a burger bar, to know that you have to shape your patty to fit the bun or you make sure your bun supplier makes the bun to fit your patty. It’s inexcusable.

I had no choice but to eat this burger with a knife and fork. And there’s one rule I stick by when I eat burgers, I eat it with my two hands. If it’s huge, I might accept cutting it into half. But thereafter, it has to be eaten with hands. And I don’t even care if it’s some $300 Wagyu beef burger in some fancy restaurant where people twirl their noodles and mash their peas before picking it up with a fork.

There is a good reason why you don’t want to cut your burger. The meat has been taken off the grill, allowed to rest and relax and re-moisturize with its own juices. It’s all sitting inside, like a prisoner, waiting to be released. When you cut it, where’s the juice going to run to? Onto your plate where, it’s wasted. Unless you don’t mind licking your plate, and losing all your friends.

All right, it’s not fair of me to judge the burger on looks alone. So let’s get into the meat of things. Mine was ordered medium, my friends, medium well. The reality was quite different. Mine became rare and my friends was done. My meat patty wasn’t even warm.

But the bigger problem was this, I could taste it was rare, but I couldn’t see it was rare, because not a single part of the patty was pink or red. I was starting to feel ill. How fresh was this burger? How long had it been sitting at room temperature?

The state of a "medium" patty at Fat Boys.
The state of a "medium" patty at Fat Boys.

I had to doctor this photo quite a bit to show where the rare bits are. Upped the light and brought out the reds.

It turns out the outside wasn’t even cooked. This is worse than rare.

I don’t have a photo of the “medium-well” patty,  but there was no identifiable light pink centre either.

And although this patty has grill marks, there was no taste of the grill.

There are other problems with this burger:

  1. Caramelized onions weren’t caramelized enough, if at all.
  2. No mention in the menu that caramelized onions are cooked in a barbecue sauce.
  3. Mayo was spread so thinly onto the bun, I couldn’t taste it.
  4. Mayo should not be spread on the bun as it makes it soggy.

My other eating companion, although not a vegetarian, choose the vegetable croquette for the patty. I think this is a poor, uncreative option for vegetarians and for those who are thinking of something lighter. A croquette is mainly filled with potato. Because you also get fries with the meal, bun + croquette + fries = carbo overload. It would have been very simple to offer a marinated portobello mushroom, or a patty made from tofu, chickpeas or okara.

True, the chances of finding a vegetarian in a burger bar is low and it may seem pointless to make anything special for them. But I think if you want to offer a vegetarian option, you have to go into it wholeheartedly or not at all.

As for the milkshakes, my friend said it right: If you can pour out a milkshake, it’s not a milkshake. Skip it.

On the upside, the fries were nice, the lettuce and tomato fresh. The overall taste is average. Yes, even average can be an upside.

Fat Boys isn’t a fast food joint, so I don’t think it’s unfair to hold them to a higher standard. It’s like buying beer from a beer maker instead of a supermarket. I expect a higher quality of knowledge of the product. So if you call yourself a burger bar, you better do a burger well.

Unfortunately, Fat Boys doesn’t.

Fat Boys
187 Upper Thomson Road
Singapore 574335

History of Visits:
2010 April

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