Knock Out Burgers
Bangkok’s appetite for burgers has been on a steady increase for the past few years with a plethora of American diners, delivery services and burger joints popping up all over town. However, the fight is far over. Enter the new kids on the block ‘Bang Bang Burgers’ opening its only doors for a mere 14 days at the time of reviewing and they are already taking on the heavyweights in their division.
Located in Bangkok’s Sukhumvit Soi 11 and actually in the same building that once housed the reigning champion of the Bangkok burger scene, Daniel Thaiger and Brew. That being said, Bang Bang Burgers are definitely an upcoming contender for the belt. With a fresh coat of paint and new a sporty boxing theme, with everything from the names of the burgers like Iron Mike, The Cassius, and Raging Bull to the décor with the fight posters donning the walls. There is also has nice outdoor area with covered seating to the side of the bar, with funky tattoo-style lettering on the walls to enjoy the last of the sun as it goes down on Soi 11.
We spoke with operations manager come executive chef Philipp Jockusch (25). Phil is an American national who originally moved to Thailand when he was just 18 years old to become a scuba dive instructor in and around Khao Lak in Southern Thailand, before studying marketing in Bangkok’s Mahidol University. During that time Jockusch has worked with several of Bangkok’s F & B industry’s finest, including Yakitori restaurant Jua, American Style dinner Little Market and world-famous Mandarin Oriental Hotel’s Bamboo Bar.
The humble burger is one of the world’s great culinary inventions, simple yet so satisfying. No one is one hundred percent sure how and where the burger originated but it’s commonly thought of as being the German Hamburg steak before making its way across the ocean with a wave of German immigrants in the early part of the 20th century and eventually becoming what we know today as the classic hamburger in a bun. Now, when it come to a good burger it all comes down to the patty or more importantly the lean-to-fat ratio of the ground beef. At Bang Bang Burgers that means taking grass fed Australian Chuck and Wagyu at a 70/30 percent ratio giving you some of the juiciest, most flavourful burgers found in Bangkok. The menu consists of six heavy hitters to appease even the most ardent of burger aficionados.
These cover all the classics one might expect. Nonetheless, you have a choice of patties to choose from there’s the chuck/wagyu beef patty, a lamb patty or a vegetarian plant-based patty and we were lucky enough to try all of them and then some.
Bang Bang Burgers : Iron Mike
Iron Mike is a classic smashed burger and is named after “The baddest man on the planet” and one of the best heavyweight boxers of all time, Mike Tyson. Smashed burgers are as the name suggests: burgers that have been smashed or pressed with a heavy spatula or in the case of Bang Bang Burgers a builder’s cement trowel (apparently, it’s perfect for the job). This means more of the surface area of meat patty comes in contact with the grill, crisping and charring the edges of the burger whilst achieving something called the Maillard reaction, which sears the beef, caramelising the sugars as well as adding more complexity to the flavour.
The Iron Mike consists of a 70g patty (we doubled up on the patties) of that in-house ground Australian chuck and wagyu blend, sandwiched between a beautifully soft Hawaiian bread roll. The beef patties are then topped with American cheese which has the perfect melting quality we look for in a good cheeseburger and the healthy smear of the tangy in-house made magic sauce. Taking a bite of the burger you get that wonderful savoury umami flavour of the beef patties which were flawlessly grilled, crispy around the edges but still juicy. This combined with the gooey American cheese that just works so well together.
The soft Hawaiian bread holds up very well and has a semi-sweet flavour and a lovey bite to it. But what really makes this burger shine is the ‘Magic Sauce’ Bang Bang’s take on the classic burger sauce, a tangy combination of mayonnaises, ketchup, yellow American mustard, garlic, and the pièce de resistance the in-house diced pickled, gherkins and a little pickling juice which adds a fantastic, punchy, zesty zing to the burger. The Iron Mike is the smallest burger on the menu but starting at only 155 baht it’s ideal for a snack or if you’re feeling hungry add an extra patty as we did or order two.
Bang Bang Burgers : The Duke
Bang Bang Burgers’ classic cheeseburger is called ‘The Duke’ which is again named after an American professional boxer and WBO heavyweight title holder Tommy Morrison otherwise known as Tommy “The Machine” Gunn from Rocky V. This is a much bigger burger with the patty weighing in at 130 grams of the same blend of wagyu and chuck giving a nice meat to fat ratio of around 85/15 percent which makes for a nice juicy and more importantly tasty burger.
The Duke places that 130g patty this time in between a brioche bun topped with sesame seeds the buns are some of the only things that aren’t made in house and are delivered fresh from Bangkok’s very own Artisan bakery, Conkey’s in Ekamai. Brioche is a sweet French yeast bread that is enriched with butter, milk and eggs and just perfect for burger. Rich and soft so that they soak up the juices from a meaty burger without falling apart in your hands but able to be squished down when picking up your burger. These buns are a little more substantial, but still lovely and soft with a fantastic rich flavour.
The burger was grilled to a perfect medium rare (the only way, in my own opinion). However, you can ask for them to cook it anyway you wish. The patty is place on the toasted brioche bun with crisp lettuce and then topped with thick slices of a sapid cheddar cheese, picked red onion, savoury slices of beefy tomato and ‘Bang Bang’ sauce. The sauce is a concoction of mayo, ketchup, yellow mustard, and diced pickles and pickle juice.
This is everything you could possibly hope for in a cheeseburger, a nice juicy patty with a nice caramelised charred crust, the crisp fresh lettuce leaves and the slightly sharp-tasting cheddar. The pickled red onions add a nice sweet tang which works exceptionally well with the Bang Bang sauce. The Duke puts me in mind of a great backyard style burger made with top quality ingredients.
Bang Bang Burgers : Cassius
Cassius aka Bang Bang Burgers’ bacon burger is named after another all time boxing great (probably the greatest of all time) Muhammad Ali who was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. Ali who famously said “It’s not bragging if you can back it up” well, Bang Bang Burgers have done just that. Taking the same 130g wagyu beef patty as the Duke on top that well toasted brioche bun, this time adding a couple of slices of smoke cured bacon, cheddar cheese, picked red onions and Bang Bang’s own G.O.A.T sauce.
With the solid foundation of the beef patty on that rich, toasted brioche bun the cheddar cheese has melted giving that delicious sharp flavour and a nice gooey texture on top of which the bacon in placed, adding a lovely smokey element to the burger and then then some of the G.O.A.T sauce. The sauce is actually an amalgamation of honey mustard and the house Mojo sauce. A mixture of mayo, sour cream, various aromatic herbs and spices, chili and honey giving the sauce a nice mix of creamy-sweetness, spice and tangy sourness which pairs with the smokiness of the bacon. We also had a side of the garlic pickles which are brined in house with garlic and chili, these little fellers are spicy and I would definitely recommend adding a slice or four to your burger for a knock-out punch.
Bang Bang Burgers : Iron Mike (Lamb Smash Version)
The lamb version of the Iron Mike might actually be better than the original, well for me anyway I’ll let you make your own mind up. Taking the same squishy Hawaiian bread bun which comes from a local bakery just outside of Bangkok in Nonthaburi. The bun kind of puts me in mind of a McDonald’s burger bun just only with a better texture and much more flavour! The lamb patties are ground in house and contains both the leg and shoulder of the lamb giving that perfect lean-to-fat you need to get a nice juicy burger. As with all the burgers at bang bang, the patties are seasoned with cracked black pepper that adds just enough kick to be present but not over powering.
The lamb patties (Yes, we doubled up again) adds a nice gamey flavour to the overall burger which goes great with the zesty magic sauce with its diced gherkins and the gooey goodness of the American cheese, the addition of sautéed onions gives a little sweetness to the burger making it very moreish, I know it will defiantly have me coming back for more.
Bang Bang Burgers : Chicky-Chicky Bang Bang
No, not the magical car from Ian Fleming children’s novel. It’s actually the name of Bang Bang Burgers’ fried chicken sandwich. We got to try three versions of this sandwich that are available, one that is your basic delicious fried chicken and the other where the chicken is also tossed in intense, pungent, and spicy hot sauce and finally the plant-based option. They take the chicken thigh and give it the southern-style treatment, which means a tangy buttermilk soak, and a dredge in well-seasoned flour before going into the fryer. The buttermilk provides a dual purpose it helps tenderise the chicken and imparts a slight acidic tang to the meat.
First let’s talk about the version which has tossed in the hot sauce. Using the same sesame seed brioche buns from Conkey’s and toasting both sides of the bread to a deep golden brown, atop of which is a bed of crisp lettuce then the whole thigh of buttermilk fried chicken is placed. It’s then heaped with pickled Jalapeño Pepper, red onions and another variation of their mojo sauce called Knock-Out. Using the mixture of mayo, sour cream, various aromatic herbs and spices, chili and honey (Mojo) as a base then adding even more chili. Once the chicken is fried it is then tossed in their very own spicy, tart and tangy hot sauce putting me in mind of Texas hot chicken.
For those of you that like their chicken a little milder they have the version that isn’t tossed which is much more of a subtle spice flavour but equally delicious. What’s more is they have a great plant-based option for vegetarian, vegans your burgers are coming soon. However, for the moment they haven’t found a vegan mayo that they are happy with so please be patient. We sampled a version that was tossed in the same hot sauce, I was very impressed with the quality of the plant-based, firstly it looked appetising by that I mean it looked like a chicken burger. Then the texture of the burger was nice and moist and took on the flavours on the burger as a whole.
Bang Bang Burgers : Raging Bull
Named for the Martin Scorsese, biographical film about the real raging bull the Italian-American middleweight boxer Jake LaMotta. This is Bang Bang Burgers’ take on the barbeque burger and this time is going to get really saucy (sorry, I couldn’t resist). This time the toasted brioche is topped with the chuck and wagyu 130g patty, the juicy medium rare patty sits upon the crisp lettuce that just add a lovey crunch as you take a bite. Nice thick slices of cheddar cheese which had melted three quarters of the way through but covers the entire patty. The burger is then topped with a heap of pickled Jalapeño and red onions that give some extra bite, spice and zing. This is all covered with sauce, a spicy-sweet, tangy barbeque that’s has an almost cola (let’s just say, a certain well-known brand) flavour to it. This is a great burger for those who like it saucy but make sure you have enough napkins handy.
Bang Bang Burgers : Green Earth
With the growing global trend of plant-based foods and with big chain fast food restaurants getting in on the action it made perfect sense for Bang Bang Burgers to have their own take on the relatively new movement in Thailand, “However, if we were going to do it, we wanted to do it right” says Jockusch. Personally, I like to try veggie burgers from time to time and I have enjoyed them but they never felt filling enough. The plant-based chicken and fry burgers all come from Fry’s family food co. We tried both the smashed burger and Duke versions again I was impressed, the burgers were well-seasoned, succulent and really flavoursome.
For the ‘Duke Green Earth’ the burger its self, had a nice texture similar to a ground meat patty, it held up nicely in the brioche bun and didn’t fall apart like other veggie bean burgers I’ve had in the past. With the all accompaniments of the Duke, the crisp lettuce, thick slices of a sharp-tasting cheddar cheese, picked red onion, savoury slices of thick tomato and of course the ‘Bang Bang’ sauce all these elements made for a great burger experience.
Personally, I preferred the smashed variety as the patties had a bit of extra crunch which equals more flavour as the burger took on more of a surface crust. This worked better with soft Hawaiian bread roll and topped with the American cheese that gave it the look and feel of a good cheeseburger and finally with dollop of the tangy in-house made Magic sauce with its tangy pickle chunks.
Sides and Things
Was it not the great Ali who said “The man who has no sides, has no wings”? (It may have been imagination or words to that effect). Don’t worry, Bang Bang Burgers are in your corner with a small but solid list of sides to accompany your burger(s). Of course, we had to start with the all-time classic French Fries,cooked to nice light golden brown,well-salted,crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside American style fries. What more could you ask for?
These come with your choice of sauce, I especially enjoyed the Knock-Out sauce its spicy creaminess goes great with the salted fries.
Jalapeño Croquettes which are cheese stuffed and battered jalapeño peppers that just burst with melted cheesy goodness and are just great dipped into any of the five sauces we had on the burgers, my favourites were probably G.O.A.T and Mojo.
Onion Rings areanother classic, the rings at Bang Bang burgers are covered with a nice thick batter that adhered well to the onion and which didn’t fall apart as soon as you take a bite. We were given a new sauce that’s not on the menu, the Larb dipping sauce this was like a right hook to the tastebuds! A big hit of zesty lime, herbs and spice and toasted rice crunch of larb (I told you things would get saucy).
Last but by no means least the Chicken Wings, Bang bangs wings are quite different to most wings I have encountered in the city and have a splendid dry rub coating. A lovely mix of aromatic spices, salt, pepper and brown sugar give the wings a delicious sweet and spicy flavour with a slight numbing mouthfeel from the spice rub. The wings come with the Mojo sauce that really compliments the wings.
Now, as an unabashed and unapologetic beer enthusiast, I think the golden frothy nectar is a perfect beverage to be paired with a good burger. Bang Bang Burgers boast a full ten taps of draft beers to help quench your thirst with a nice easy selection to satisfy most tastes. With lagers such as Stella Artois and Estrella Damm to ales like BrewDog Punk IPA and Leffe Blond as well as some bottled beers from Thailand’s growing craft beers alongside Belgian ales and the one of the better local/commercial South East Asian beers, Beer Lao. They also have spirits and soft drinks for you to sup apon if that’s more your tipple.
Attention: There is a new challenger to the throne who are ready for a shot at the title of Bangkok’s best burger and the competition is stiff. I for one will be keeping an eye on this establishment, and there are certainly more great things to come, from burger specials to rotating beers and fun events. So, the next time you have a hankering for a beer and a good burger get yourself down Bang Bang Burgers either on your own or with friends and enjoy warm hospitality and excellent burgers and a few cold beers for good measure.
Their Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/Bangbangburgersbkk