Interviewed by Shalom Chin
Tucked away in a nondescript building somewhere along Bukit Timah is Beauty World. Unbeknownst to those unfamiliar with this district, there lies a hawker center (an area designated for selling street food) that serves many delicious local cuisines. The exception is Hambaobao, started and run by chef owner Ryan Wee. Hambaobao is Chinese mandarin for Hamburgers which is what Ryan does best.
I first tasted Hambaobao’s burgers 6 months ago, and it was such a delight! Succulent and affordable, these burgers may seem small compared to what you find in your fast-food joints, but these are not your usual burgers that derive its taste from the BBQ sauce. Oh no Sir, they are supernovas jam-packed with flavour and you can taste the heart and toil that Ryan has put in in perfecting these works of art. My favourites are definitely his Beef, spiced pulled-pork and crispy pork belly, not forgetting his hand-made fries.
We took some time to ask Ryan some questions about his experiences:
How old is Hambaobao and what inspired you to be a street food chef?
HBB just turned One in September 2015. What inspired me to do what I do is because we want to price food reasonably in a dying trade.
Tell us generally about your menu and the story behind each dish?
It was hard to find an affordable Beef Burger that tasted delicious so we decided on 5 burgers that each had to be iconic or unique. Crispy Pork Belly (Sio Bah) was an experiment for a roast meat shop concept but instead, we got HBB! The pork belly is a crowd pleaser at any given time!
Dory Fish Burger
The Dory Fish burger was a dish I used to make during my high school days under the influence of Jamie Oliver. Who knew it fit so well in between two buns!
The Ayam Buah Keluak is the shot to fame burger or attention grabber for HBB. It was also the reason HBB started.
Tell us more about the long process it took for you to perfect your recipe.
We did not start the shop with one perfect recipe. It took probably 6 months of tweaking and listening to constructive criticism to understand the palates of customers.
Crispy pork burger
Describe the perfect beef burger.
Juicy, full of flavour and the taste of beef has to linger.
What are some tips on making the prefect beef burger?
Use a mince with about 20% fat and Garlic. Then get creative.
What are your dreams for Hambaobao?
Firstly, that we have an influence in increasing the amount of local hawkers in Singapore. Secondly, we want to be consistent in quality and affordable.
For those who are thinking of being entrepreneurs, what advise would you give to them?
Have a good business model. It’s never just about the product.
So what wines would I personally have with Hambaobao’s burgers with?
Classic burger with onions and cheese: Try a Syrah from the Old World or Bläufrankisch from Austria. It is best if they both have a slight pepper note to complement the meaty flavours of the burger. The wines are not too tannic that it overwhelms the other elements of the burger.
Crispy Pork belly: Try a chilled dry Riesling that has enough acid to refresh your palate from all that succulent fat. We have a wonderful Riesling producer, Möwes from the Pfalz that produces are fruity and mineral Riesling.
Spiced pulled-pork: Try a chilled bottle of Rosé that is fruity to complement the flavourfulness of the pork and that is low in alcohol so that it does not accentuate the burn of the chillies.
We have several wonderful wines in our portfolio that would go well with burgers. To find more about our range, sign-up here.
Specialty: Burgers & Hand-made fries
Opening Hours: Tuesday - Sunday
12pm to 8pm
Closed: Every Monday and Even-week Tuesdays
Contact: +65 9667 5254
*The Copyright on all images is owned by by Hambaobao. B.NU has been given permission to use the pictures for this post.