“I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”
--J. Wellington Wimpy
Maybe you thought the lines were too long. Maybe you didn’t live or work close enough to the first branches that were opened. Whatever. Anyway, now you’re wondering whether you should try the new burger and chicken places in town. Well, wonder no longer. I’m here for you.
Not to brag—ok, maybe to brag a little—I’ve had Shake Shack burgers with a bunch of kids on summer break visiting the Museum of Natural History; with businessmen in suits escaping winter standing side by side along a long, narrow table; and with fearless pigeons and squirrels trolling for scraps in Madison Square Park in late fall. Those were good burgers. As for Popeyes, I remember loving the fact that nearly twenty years ago you could choose the chicken part you wanted, and if you ordered a keel, you’d get a piece of Louisiana-style fried chicken that was, by the standards of the time, huge.
So, I was not just a little bit excited when I walked up to the Shake Shack counter at the Bonifacio High Street Central Square. I decided to go big and order a double patty burger, fries and Coke (Zero, para healthy). My bill came to a whopping Six Hundred Ten Pesos (P610.00), Philippine currency. This better be good, I thought to myself. It was tasty but seemed to lack something, maybe some New York flavoring. But I couldn’t quite decide if I liked it or not, so I had another one. (No, not on the same day because the Double Shack is really filling.) On my second visit, I realized the burger was more loosely packed than I liked. Some people might call it juicy, but I felt it was mayo-ey rather than savory, and overall it was bland. The single-patty combo meal cost P450.00. In my opinion, not worth it.
I also had high hopes as I stood in line outside the Popeyes at the Alabang Town Center, only to have them dashed as well. Apart from the weird way the joint is set up, the food experience was terribly disappointing. The chicken pieces were very small, spottily breaded and insufficiently seasoned. I’m not interested in going back.
What’s the lesson here? Maybe, when in New York eat at Shake Shack and when in Louisiana go for Popeyes, but in Manila crispy pata is king.