Clutching a sparkling microphone beneath the trailing lights of a disco ball, may we introduce to you the funkiest heir to the Saigon burger throne. By Simon Stanley. Photos by Vinh Dao.
Beer and burgers – the hottest trends in the city right now. The last 18v months have proven that you no longer need to be living in America to find a glorious fistful of bread, beef and cheese to put you on the right track. So here’s another contender shimmying into the fray, a headline act you cannot miss.
“We strive to make burgers so good they’ll make you wanna get up out’a yo seat and start bustin’ a move,” says Soul Burger’s blurb. So where to begin? Firstly, don’t think you can just order a bacon cheese burger here and be done with it. These burgers got soul. Here you’ll want to rise up from your chair, pound out a blues riff on your air piano, and summon ‘The Little Richard’ (VND 195,000). Don’t let the name fool you. This one is big in size and flavour. The thickly sliced bacon wafts an aromatic smokiness into the juicy, 200g hand-formed US Choice beef patty – a patty ground onsite and grilled to order like a fine steak. A generous topping of cheese gives a creamy, sharp bite, the onions add sweetness, and the egg… well, everything is better with an egg. While you may one day move on up to something a little more adventurous, this’ll surely keep you a-knockin’ at Soul Burger’s door for a long, long time.
“Our regulars eventually go to ‘The Diana Ross’ (VND 230,000),” says head chef Gabe Boyer, “which is topped with a cognac and mushroom cream sauce, Swiss cheese and grated horseradish. It’s pretty damn good.” Clearly there’s more to Boyer than quirkily named burgers and music paraphernalia. Flavour and quality will always top the charts here.
Other highlights include ‘The James Brown’ (VND 235,000) getting you up with a barbecue sauce and pulled pork topping, and ‘The Blues Brother’ (VND 210,000), melting blue cheese and bacon with a full tank of gas and half a pack of cigarettes. Sunglasses optional. Vegetarians will appreciate ‘The Jackson 5’ (VND 165,000) while a list of starters, including chicken wings and an awesome ‘Steak Poutine Supreme’, make for an ideal accompaniment to a sunset on the balcony and one of the 18 local and imported beers available. Boyer’s current favourite is Estrella’s Inedit, a light and flavoursome witbier-style lager crafted specifically to be enjoyed with food.
For those who like variety, the ‘Burger of the Month’ will keep even the most heavyweight burger aficionado on their toes. At the time of our visit, this was an ‘Oktoberfest-in-a-bun’ stack of smoked pork knuckle and ‘brat-spiced’ beef topped with braised cabbage and homemade mustard. By the time this review reaches your hungry mitts, Boyer will have pulled another gastronomic creation out of his tall white hat. “I’m American,” he says. “November is Thanksgiving, so it’ll be along that theme, that’s all I can tell you right now.”