Burgers Ordered: The Big Boy
The Experience: Despite its 23 million people and cosmopolitan, international feel, locating a good hamburger in Shanghai has proven somewhat difficult. Having eaten handful of mediocre burgers in his fourth month living in China, Guest Burgermeister Josh set out to find one worth (literally) writing home about. What better place to start
for this native New Yorker than New York Style Steak and Burger, recently voted Shanghai’s best burger.
Tucked away in Tianzifang, a network of narrow alleyways with a variety of bars, restaurants, and shops, New York Style advertises its recent top-burger award on a poster as you walk in. The restaurant is small and cozy – typical for Tianzifang – with only a handful of tables on each of the three floors. It honors its namesake with elegant black
and white photographs of The Big Apple hanging on the walls, along with somewhat tacky news clippings and reviews of the chef, who fancies himself somewhat of a celebrity. Josh was seated at a small table facing a window onto the kitchen, where he could supervise the creation of his burger.
The Taste: The Big Boy Burger – aptly named – was a sloppy, juicy, and ultimately satisfying burger experience. It is a standard cheeseburger with all of the usual accompaniments, plus some Russian Dressing. Burgermeister Josh was initially disappointed with the size of the patty; he wasn’t convinced he received the half pound of chuck the menu promised. But the plentiful accoutrements – crisp lettuce, flavorful onions, pickles, tomatoes, sharp cheddar cheese, and a light Russian Dressing – were all delightful, and contributed to an overall positive burger experience. However, while munching on his sandwich, Josh couldn’t help but notice an inherent contradiction in New York Style’s culinary philosophy. The menu made a big deal of how its ground beef is seasoned only with salt and pepper, so as to not overcrowd the flavor of the meat itself. But if the meat is to be the centerpiece of the experience, why overshadow it with so many toppings? For most of the burger, Josh was tasting – and enjoying – the other stuff more than he was the meat. By the time he got down to the last few bites, and all of the toppings were either eaten or on the plate, he found the meat to be juicy, and well cooked, but not particularly flavorful. So it appears as if the meat-first philosophy espoused on the menu doesn’t quite translate into the burger itself. The fries that came with the burger were not offensive, but entirely uninspiring. They were French fries – nothing more and nothing less.
The Verdict: Burgermeister Josh loved the feel of New York Style: classic, homey, steakhouse feel, with a modern window-into-the-kitchen upgrade. The service was warm and English-speaking (standard in expat-heavy areas of Shanghai like Tianzifang). And the burger itself? It was good…tasty, but certainly not mind-blowing. It ranks well above the other mediocre burgers Josh has suffered through in Shanghai. But he hopes that New York Style’s recognition as the best burger in Shanghai was mistakenly awarded, and that the true apex of Shanghai’s burger offerings is still out there awaiting discovery.
New York Style Steak and Burger is located at 155 Jianguo Middle Road in Shanghai, China.