Things slow down a bit for the Tet holiday in Vietnam and most expatriates tend to leave the country. So when I came to Cambodia for a bit of holiday and for a photo job, Bryse suggested that we should go nyam some places. Not one to shirk the idea of grubbing some food, I said yes but with a catch. I wanted to try to accomplish at least 4 places in the city in one night. However, we couldn’t go to a proper restaurant as that would just take forever. So we had to go a bit dirty and in true nyam penh fashion, it revolved around burgers.
What’s a dirty burger? It’s not quite fast food and not quite gourmet. Kinda in the middle price point of around $3 – $5.
So Bryse rustled up the troops, in the form of Roswell and Dene and off we went.
The first burger we tried was at USA Donuts. The cafe / convenience store lives up to it’s name with it’s very american style donuts and random items from the States.
We ordered a couple of burgers to start. A run of the mill cheeseburger with fries ($3.00) and a bacon cheeseburger with onion rings ($5.25). Both burgers were decent not great. Meat was a bit dry as both patties were cooked grey and the cheese wasn’t a slice but rather cheese sauce. However, I would definitely come back for the breaded onion rings. You don’t get alot of them but they are gargantuan in size. The breading was crisp and was salted perfectly. Just enough to balance the sweetness of the onions.
USA Donuts: 2.5 nyamies (The extra .5 goes to the onion rings)
Next up was Rocket Burger. Set near the Australian Embassy, I was a bit dubious about the place as it was a bit out of the way and looked quite sad when we entered. But they made a decent cheeseburger which made up for the depressing digs. Their bacon cheeseburger ($3.00) was great and the patty was actually cooked medium which made it juicy. And check out out the perfectly grilled onion! They could tone down the tartar sauce (yeah, I know) but this was a definite surprise.
Rocket Burger: 3 nyamies
Overcooked and crumbly, the patty does injustice to a very well thought out burger. It is a very beefy burger though and you can definitely taste that it is high quality meat. For a look at what the burger would taste like when properly cooked, head to the link (http://www.gopowerkick.com/4006/the-garage-phnom-penh)
However, their smash burger was freaking awesome. How awesome was it? Well, I didn’t have a chance to take a photo of it as it was scarfed down before my trusty Nokia 102o could get to camera mode (seriously Nokia, can we work on that please???). The patty was crusty yet was at a medium temp. It came topped with cheese, arugula, caramelized onions and sriracha mayo. It was a perfect smashburger. And cheap at $3.25!
Bryse has a thing for cubanos and he ordered one, which kinda put everyone over the edge. It was good. However, plating could use a bit of help. One word: ramekins.
Garage: 3 (2 for the sous-vide, 4 for the smash)
We weren’t able to make it to our 4th venue as we were stuffed to the gills. Sadly, it will have to wait for next time.
This was my first outing with the Nyam crew, though I’ve been a close follower of their blog for years now. I was very pleased to be asked along because 1) I love food blogs, and 2) I love burgers, dirty or otherwise.
Our first burger at USA Donuts was actually pretty good to me, but maybe it’s because I had low expectations. Their cheese was sort of a nacho/velveeta cheese-like texture, which could be off-putting to some people, but I thought it was pretty tasteful when smashed with the patty. Their onion rings were bomb — crispy and huge — though perhaps what was the best part about USA Donuts is that they had Fat Tire beers by the bottle. I love non-Cambodian beers (They give me diarrhea, bleh).
The exterior decor of Rocket Burger is fashioned after Johnny Rockets in the US… but the interior makes for a pretty lonely-looking place, with a bar in one corner and a children’s play area in the other. It was empty, save us — I think the wait staff was thrilled to see us. Their burgers were pretty good — better than I expected, really.
At this point, as I’m writing this, I’m wondering if both USA Donuts and Rocket Burger benefited from my low expectations. Because the next place we went to, Garage, was where we had really high expectations.
Now, I’m a simple girl when it comes to burgers — I like them big, greasy and cheesy. I’m not too into fancy seasonings or like… special techniques when I am looking for my ideal burger — Vinh had been going on and on about sous-vide all night. Just give me a good flame-grilled patty, bread that’s fresh, and cheese, and I’m good!
Expectations or not, I’m sad to say that their sous-vide burger was disappointingly dry. Their smash burger was good, but that random bit of vegetation in it really weirded me out. I disagreed with Vinh on it being arugula… I think it was something like cilantro. Alas, the best part about Garage was the cubano that Bryse ordered. I love Cuban sandwiches. You know what Garage does super well? Cuban Ruebens! Those are my favorite things on the menu, though they can be a little bit pricey.
If I had to rank the burgers, I would probably rank the Rocket Burger one first, USA Donut second, Smash Burger third, and Fancy Sous-Vide Burger fourth. All in all, lots of burgers and beers were consumed, so what more could a girl ask for? Being someone who LOVES talking about food (I’m Singaporean) I really enjoyed the non-stop food debates that was happening.