Davao Burger Challenge

It all started a year ago when my personal facebook account was still alive and I can still exchange banters with my closest friends over the most elementary of stuff. On one particular day, I was doing the usual salivation over my favorite food – burger. No, I’m not talking about the “walking” ones, (Damn you, Doi.) but the ones that can actually fill your stomach (yes, not the ones that create freaking butterflies in your digestive system.) While daydreaming about Army Navy’s quarter pounder, my friends quickly popped the bubble by saying that I am over-rating it and that I should really start supporting local goods. I defensively announced that I did support local goods; in fact, I was a fan of Jollibee! How Pinoy cliché was that retort, to which my friends rolled their eyes to and exclaimed that they meant something even more local like Gino’s or Backyard Burger. My response then was, “Where the heck is this Gino’s or Backyard Burger?” I obviously have been away from home too long.

Next thing I know people were casting votes and the comment thread has turned into a heated debate on who makes the best burger in Davao City. Since when did my friends become burger juries? I ended the debate by saying that I should be the judge since I obviously have a PHD in Burgerology and that the only way to get to the bottom of the discussion was to have a burger challenge as soon as I get home. We sealed the deal and after several months of delay, we finally made it happen last night before the month of June ended.

space burger

1/4 of the barkada at the Space Burger joint. (from left: Pat, Mac, Bong, Rj, Me.)

First stop was supposed to be Jollibee but then it was not really distinctly Davao so it was scrapped from the list. The first official stop became Space Burger. I am not entirely certain if Space Burger was originally from Davao but I know that it has been there long before my lust to wander took the reign. Whatever intention we had to dissect its burger and its origin, it went out the window the moment the burgers were served. It was dinner time, everybody had the “logical” plan of starving themselves in preparation for the challenge; hence, those cheeseburgers were popped and gulped like pills. It was only later when it was pointed out by Ruby Joy that we realized that nobody bothered to chew (except for her, she claimed). She complained that she had the smallest share because unlike us, she really tried to enjoy (and not just to devour uncaringly) the burger.

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Space Burger’s Ultimate Cheeseburger, Price: PhP 125.00. We had the decency to take a photo first before it completely disappeared in seconds!

She was right though. I think I am also speaking for the three other piranhas (you know who you are) who mistook the burger for a pill. We did not take our time to enjoy the burger which honestly left us wondering in the end if our verdict was accurate. It is easy to mistake the burger for a pill because it really was small, but what can you expect in the Philippines – everything these days seemed to be downsized even when it is supposed to be supersized. To be fair, I will admit that the grilled meat fitted the soft bun perfectly, the cheese was fully melted, and the fixins were just enough that the overall taste did not overpower the beef. I did not even mind the faint tinge of caramelized onion there! Also, I was especially grateful that they did not bombard the burger with lettuce and tomato because I would hate to snap at the crew to ask them why they changed my order into a salad. I am a carnivore and although I have started eating vegetables, it does not mean that I have to tolerate having too much of them in my burger.

ginos

That’s what I look like when burgers are right in front of me. At Gino’s Boom Burgers.

Second stop was Gino’s Boom Burgers which Mac, our designated driver for the night, aggressively vouched for. Since we did not want to make the same mistake in Space Burger, in Gino’s we took everything slow which allowed Mac to defend every minor flaw we pointed out. It was hilarious listening to him provide all kinds of rebuttal to every unlikely point that was raised. He was a hard-core Gino’s supporter alright which explained why he was not too happy with the overall rating.

Ginos

Gino’s Stuffed Burger, Price: PhP 185.00 and Bacon Mushroom, Price: PhP 125.00. Slower this time.

With Gino’s, it was the meat of the matter that I was having concerns with. I give high praises that the meat was freshly prepared and it was not like the refrigerated kind (Hurrah from all five of us!); unfortunately I am not fond of patties that were well done in the outside but medium rare in the middle. Mac justified this by saying that it was intended that way so that it will still be juicy which to me did not really make sense. The one who took our orders gave an even sillier answer but I am not going to mention it here in fear that it might get him into trouble. My point is, I have had burgers with patties much thicker than Gino’s Stuffed Burger and they were also cooked well, yet remained juicy. On the other hand, Patty (not the one sandwiched by the buns) supported Mac by saying that she did not mind sinking her teeth on something cooked similarly (we are talking about a person who adored sushi here). I guess it works for some, but it does not for others. Different folks, different strokes.

In addition, I want to raise the alarm on the buns. The bun, the bun, the bun — it is as important as the meat. Too much a bun, too crusty a bun, too ‘one-week-old’ a bun defeats the whole purpose. We want a bun that will not spoil the whole experience, most importantly, we do not want it to upstage the star of the show which is the meat.

Next stop was Harley’s Boulevard Motor Café. I know that I should really just focus on the burger but this joint made me want to ask myself if I should start my critique before I take the bite; after all, the atmosphere (despite being secondary) does affect how I will enjoy the burger.  When we arrived at Harley’s, I heard warning bells in my head. I thought, this place was where college kids hang out and I felt like an aging griper whose preference for “coffee-shop-peace-and-quiet” stuck out like a sore thumb. To make matters more difficult, the place was buzzing (literally) and I could hardly carry a decent conversation with my friends without raising my voice. Maybe I am too square (because when I asked my friends they did not seem to mind it at all, Mac especially liked it) but I think that the allure of the joint should not just cater to one cluster of customers; unless that was really the intention of the owner then I rest my case. Speaking of the owner, it is worth mentioning that he took some time to talk with his customers. He did not really spend a long time at our table but at least he raised a decent pep just enough to let us know that he appreciates our business. Kudos to that initiative!

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Harley’s Extra Large Cheesburger with Bacon, Price: PhP 185.00

When the food attendant served our Extra Large Cheeseburger with Bacon order, I have to admit that we were a little disappointed. I thought that it was hardly “extra large” and the only interesting things I have noted about it were the mustard sauce which was already placed on the darn bun (look at the photo of the bun above and tell me if it’s even worth describing) and the diced pickles which we did not find in all the other burgers we have tried that night. (I love pickles by the way so this was obviously a positive point.) I only became a little curious about how they cooked the meat after it was pointed out by Patty and Ruby Joy that it was dry and tasted like it was fried. In fact, they were quite convinced that it was really fried. Just to be certain we asked the attendant and he said that they grilled their burger patties. I hate to say that he was lying so I am going to assume that they probably used a unique grilling stove that gave that fried effect on our burger.

BB

Barkada shot at Backyard Burger joint.

Our fourth stop was the double B. Oops I should not have phrased it like that or else Bong will start getting nostalgic about a certain someone. I would hate to be reminded by Patty not to talk while my mouth was full; but seriously, I think everything is okay now and we do not have to keep it hush-hush like how Lord Voldemort’s name (in this case, she-who-should-not-be-named-only-when-Bong-is-around) should not be said out loud in that Harry Potter story. Okay, I am picking on my friends which is completely irrelevant so I am going back to why I wrote this article in the first place. Double B is Backyard Burger and many friends in facebook voted for it. So you could just imagine how high my expectation was for this joint.

cats

Backyard Cheeseburger, Price: PhP125.00. Too disappointed to snap a decent shot.

We opted for the all-time favorite Backyard Cheeseburger which was hailed by many for its homemade steak sauce. Sadly, after taking our first few bites, we were still not convinced to pledge our allegiance. Joss Stone once belted out that “less is more” and in this case, it really is. The sauce was too rich for its own good and that herbal twist (Patty said it was oregano) was a disturbing after taste.

I was not that quick to give up on this ‘darling of the crowd’ just yet so I re-channeled my energy on the patty. The patty was even more frustrating as it was crumbling right before my eyes. Any sudden movement cost me a portion of the measly share I had. By the time I was on my second bite, I barely had enough and was scared to lose whatever was left; so I rammed it all in my mouth and got it over with. Honestly, I have a better name for this burger. They should start naming it Backyard Cheese Crumblurger then it will truly live up to its name.

outback group

We were told to be wacky but this was the wackiest we could be. Note to Bong and Ruby Joy, I hardly call those poses wacky.

Last stop was the Outback Grill.

It was the same drill so we ordered whatever that usually fired up the grill and in this joint’s case, the food attendant recommended their Famous Burger which cost a whooping PhP189.00. We thought then, this better be worth the price. Oh this burger was so pretty! The bun looked glazed and the black and white sesame seeds added character to its mushroom-like exterior. I almost felt sorry for it when I started murdering it into five equal pieces and while doing so, I was secretly hoping that it will be as tasty as it was pretty.

outback grill famous burger

The verdict? It was just ‘okay.’ It was huge (This should have been our first stop!) but it was just okay. I hate to burger bitch but I am not one of those people who think that a mountain of all sorts piled high will make a scrumptious burger. I was obviously not alone in this because my friends agreed. The iceberg onions, scene-grabbing tomatoes (never mind the cheese and pickles), and all other fixins buried the beef and stole all the glory. All the excess toppings overkilled.  In fact, it was so overwhelming that we ended up shoving the last piece around at each other.

We like our burgers juicy, salty, cheesy, and simple but we also do not mind a little twist on our perennial favorites.

So which burger won the challenge? If you have not guessed it yet then I feel sorry for you. If you have and you disagree then we respect your opinion. You can write your own entry or maybe you can just rant about it in facebook or where ever else that helps you sleep at night.

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Comments

  1. hahaha. naapil man nuon ko. so kinsa nadaog???? my guess is Army Navy! 😆

    • yup yup kay magbagting baya gyud na dayun na imu dalunggan the moment na magmention lang kog burger…lol…wrong guess!

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