Could this be Saigon’s ultimate burger joint? Anna van Dyk finds out. Photos by Jonny Edbrooke.
Before moving to Vietnam, I had resigned myself to a life of noodles and rice. Don’t get me wrong: I love noodles and rice. But do you know what I love more than eating Vietnamese food every single day? The odd, naughty treat of a delicious burger. And if there were ever a place in Saigon to satisfy this need, it would be District 1’s Con Bo Map.
Opened on the 15th December 2014, this burger joint was opened by owner Ben at a time when he felt there was no answer in HCMC to that inevitable burger craving. Originally just a take-away place, Con Bo Map later evolved into a restaurant when famished customers began showing up at the kitchen door.
Today it is a small, modest space hidden down an alley off Pasteur. Four basic tables and benches line the walls, while an opening at the back allows the hungry diner a glimpse inside the busy kitchen. The one-room affair is basic but we are not here for the scenery. We are here for the burgers – and they are damn good.
The menu is varied and reasonably priced. Choices run the gamut from your classic hamburger with mayonnaise, pickles and salad (VND 80,000) to the more unique Aussie burger (VND 160,000), which features a fried egg, beetroot, pineapple and bacon.
We settled on the two house favourites: the chicken burger, with its Southern-style crispy chicken breast (VND 90,000), and the classic cheeseburger (VND 100,000). It is clear why they are both bestsellers: the crispy chicken was perfectly crumbed and the sauce on the cheeseburger made it disappear very quickly.
As for sides, I can highly recommend the onion strings (VND 35,000). These skinny curls of deep-fried goodness are big on flavour and crunch. I had high hopes for the triple fried chips (VND 35,000) but was far more impressed by the French fries (VND 20,000). All told, Con Bo Map may not be much to look at but its menu more than satisfies a hamburger craving. The next time you feel the need, bring your appetite and leave the table manners at home: it’s going to be dirty and delicious.