The first time I had heard about the sous-vide method of cooking was when Caspar from Yumi and now Deco joined us for a nyam about a year ago. He had just purchased the equipment and was already talking about tinkering with the method in an effort to perfect a sous-vide burger. Needless to say, Vinh and I were really excited.
Caspar’s sous-vide burger has finally arrived on the menu at Deco. Not an everyday burger, coming it at $9 for the burger and triple cooked chips, it is however, probably the new king of burgers in Phnom Penh. Cooked evenly through with the sous-vide method done right, the meat is juicy and delicious. I think they even try to show off the quality of the burger meat by keeping the toppings relatively simple.
The triple cooked chips fine but were not my favorite mostly because they are English style chips, not the American fries I’m looking for with a burger. But the ketchup and burger sauce that came along with the plate were both awesome. For those of you not in Cambodia, ketchup being good is unfortunately not a given. It is typically some gross, sweet watery mess so Heinz 57 is a treat.
The rest of the menu looks really good as well but I’m going to have a hard time not ordering the burger next time I’m back at Deco.
On a normal night, Garage has one of my favorite burgers in Phnom Penh. Nothing fancy, just a solid backyard bbq style burger. It does take as long as 45 minutes to get one if their grill isn’t fired up when you arrive but they do the regular burger really well. However, comparing the sous-vide burger from Garage to the Deco sous-vide burger isn’t even fair. At least not at this point. While Caspar spent a year trying to perfect his sous-vide method, I’m pretty sure the Garage owners bought one and are using their customers to learn how to use the equipment. The night we gave Garage a shot, the burgers were extremely dry and crumpling apart as we tried to eat them. Apparently the whole idea behind sous-vide is to make a juicier burger; this was not the case.
I’d stick to the regular burgers at Garage until they get this new style figured out.
Our first post on this blog focused on a very American diner burger at Mike’s Burger House. 2 years down the line, the culinary landscape has significantly changed with new and exciting restaurants popping up left and right. Sometimes, they are a hit with us and other times, a bit of a miss.
So when I wasn’t too surprised to hear that Phnom Penh has a joint that does sous-vide burgers. I was surprised when I found out that there are two!
Sous-vide is the method of slowly poaching a vacuum sealed bag of food goodness until it achieves whatever temperature the chef would like. What this does is two things:
- The food is cooked in it’s own juices, hence intensifying flavor and overall juiciness
- Allows for almost perfect cooking temperatures
However, there are some downfalls to the cooking technique. Because it slowly brings the internal temperature of the food up, cooking times are significantly longer than traditional methods. Also; and this is very important for burgers; there is no browning of the meat. A big part of the burger experience is that char or “crust” that is prevalent on flame-grilled or griddle cooked patties which gives a textural one-two punch when biting into a burger.
Okay, enough burger knowledge for one post, let’s get to the burgers!
We first went to Garage to check out their sous-vide burger. We are big fans of the Garage burger and Jeff the owner is always tinkering with the menu. Usually this is a bad omen of things to come in a restaurant, but in this case, it’s great to see someone constantly refining the menu to keep it fresh.
One admission about the review: C0-owner Jeff was not at the restaurant and his partner had a really bad day trying to get the sous-vide machine up to speed which has adversely affected this review.
The sous-vide burger was overcooked. There is no other way to put it lightly.
The burger had a great crust on it so I have a feeling it could have been left on the grill a bit too long. It’s quite disappointing as the onion confit, rocket and sriracha mayo were a great complement to the burger.
In typical Nyam fashion, we ordered way too much food and ordered 2 more sandwiches on the menu.
We ordered a stellar Pulled Pork Sandwich and a Cubano. Both were excellent though the Cubano didn’t have the prerequisite mustard on it but a simple splash from the bottle of French’s solved that problem
Pretty much all of the food on the Garage menu is under $5 which makes it a great deal for what you get. I will definitely be back to the Garage to retry the burger as this was a one-off experience.
Now onto a more different bear in Deco. Co-owned by Caspar from Yumi and Rob from Rubies, Deco is located in BKK I and is set in a beautiful art-deco villa.
The Deco burger is the best burger in town.
However, it’s too much of a good thing.
More on that later.
There are elements of molecular gastronomy on the menu but none of that exemplifies it more than the chilled tomato soup. The clear broth belies the intense tomato flavor that pummels the perception of what your eyes are telling you. A great start to the meal.
Now onto the burger. It’s simple in it’s presentation which once again belies how much thought is put into it. Every ingredient was top notch even down to the fresh tomatoes which are prominently displayed on top of the patty. I have an almost Un-American love of fat fries aka chips and these triple fried ones are definitely some of the best in town. No ketchup needed for these babies as they are also salted perfectly. The remoulade-like burger sauce gave a great tangy bite to the burger. As for how the patty was cooked, check out the photo below:
But throughout the meal, something was constantly nagging at me and it took me a week or so to figure out what it was.
It’s too perfect.
I have proclaimed the best burger in town a couple of times, here and here but both burgers had their faults. This one is completely flawless and that’s the problem with it. Maybe I like imperfection.
Also, the location is too close for comfort. For example, I love the burgers at Cafe De La Paix (RIP). But one of the reasons why I love them is that they were 6 hours away from Phnom Penh and it took a bit of effort to get one. And that made them special. I’m not saying Caspar and Rob shouldn’t pack up and move to Siem Reap but it’s too much of a good thing.
This is my last post as a regular contributor of Nyam Penh. I have moved to Saigon and have started up a new food blog called Vietnomnom. I am getting content for a post in the next month so please check it out and let me know what you think of it.
Also, thanks to all of our readers and commenters for reading Nyam Penh and helping us get to where we are now.