Let’s take a dine in today at Honbo Burger in Chijmes, Singapore. I was intrigued by the concept of Asian-inspired, American-style burgers. The restaurant, which opened its first shop here in early this year in July has its roots from Hong Kong rather than an American one. The establishment first started offering since March 2017 on Sun Street, Wan Chai in Hong Kong.
Since, it has gained popularity for their classic cheeseburgers inspired Honbo burgers. Honbo has now extended its reach internationally, with its first outlet in Singapore, located in the heart of City Hall, well as expanding to Macau, China in addition thereafter.
Furthermore, Honbo’s name draws inspiration from the Cantonese term for hamburger, “hon bou baau” (漢堡包). This is popularized by American fast food in the region. Despite its Hong Kong roots, the restaurant offers a largely American-inspired experience. This can be seen in their restaurant, from the retro diner-style bar to the digital jukebox playing in the corner. Also, the restaurant is also pretty small, able to sit about 50 pax indoors. Hence, do expect a wait outside on peak periods.
The Honbo burger selections
The menu at Honbo is simple and revolves around three main categories: Honbo burgers, regular burger staples, and more special-type burgers. Their signature Honbo Burger, priced starting at $18 for just the burger. It is also available in single 1.0, an upsized 1.5x ($23) and double 2.0x ($28) variants, depending on your appetite.
Also, one of Honbo’s selling points is its seemingly fried crispy beef patties. These patties have a unique crispy edge that resembles fried shallots. The base burger comes with two crispy beef patties, cheese, pickles, onion, and their house sauce, which gives Honbo burgers their distinct flavor.
Moreover, for those with a heartier appetite, there are larger variants of the base burger called the HONBO 1.5 and HONBO 2.0. The former comes with three crispy beef patties, while the latter has four. Sizing up your burgers also grants you a proportionate amount of cheese, pickles, onion, and house sauce.
If you find their burgers tad on the pricey side, you are not alone. Their tiny Honbo BB sets you back $15 just for the burger, the cheapest burger on their menu. But its no Macdonalds here, despite its smaller size, it doesn’t skimp on flavour, with crispy beef, cheese, pickles, onion, and ketchup. More on the price later.
Not just Honbos
In addition to their Honbo-branded burger selection, Honbo offers a range of classic hamburgers, including the Cheeseburger, an American staple. Your thick beef patties sits between toasted white buns, topped similarly with cheese, pickles, onion, lettuce, and house sauce. Similar to the Honbo range we looked at earlier, the cheeseburger is also available as a Double Cheeseburger for $24.
Here, you get the same run of the mill ingredients with two beef patties, double cheese, pickles, onion, lettuce, and house sauce. Interestingly, there’s also The Gold Standard Burger, priced at $28, which adds bacon to the double cheeseburger. While it’s hard to differentiate the Honbo burger from their cheeseburger options, both are essentially cheeseburgers, with perhaps some differences in their special “sauce mix”.
Honbo’s burgers may not be large, but they certainly pack a flavorful punch. Notably, your burger doesn’t come with fries. Hence, it’s recommended to pair your meal with either their straight-cut fries for $7 or tater tots for $11. These side options are freshly made and fried to order, complementing your burgers well.
Non-Beef burgers worth trying
For those looking for non-beef options, Honbo has a Teriyaki Chicken Burger for $18. It features soft grilled chicken topped with onion, lettuce, Honbo’s homemade teriyaki sauce, and kewpie mayo- a fusion attempt at Japanese-Western flavors. Interestingly, for an American-inspired food joint, Honbo does not serve milkshakes. Instead, they offer a selection of hot and cold drinks, including soft drinks, cocktail teas and beer from the bar. Shots of gin or whiskey cost an additional $7.
For the more adventurous diners, Honbo offers a selection of special off-menu items you won’t find on their paper menus, though they are listed on their website. Out of the ordinary, these options include the non-meat-based Impossible Burger, a Scallops Burger, Fish Burger, Oyster Burger, a Korean-inspired Fried Chicken Burger, and a Soft Shell Crab Burger. They are all priced around the $26++ price range.
I particular recommend the Soft Shell Crab Burger. The burger is a simple one- essneitqally a crab between burger buns and sauce. It may remind some of the innovative burger creations previously found at the now-defunct Wok-in Burger, previously offered by KEK Seafood Restaurant at Alexandra Village.
Honbo’s burgers are more pricey
The quality of Honbo’s burger patties is excellent. The burgers are juicy without being overly messy. And the beef patties are crispy on the edges without feeling too oily. They are served in small ceramic bowls, adding to the overall quality of the presentation.
We had visited many burger joints all over Singapore, from sub-$10 indepdent hawkers to sub-$50 restaurant dine-ins. However, it’s worth noting that the pricing at Honbo is on the higher side compared to other burger joints. A typical meal here can set you back at least $25, with $sub-$40 being the norm
That is quite a premium to ask for at Honbo for a hole-in-the wall gourmet burgers and fries, which the competition is typically priced in Singapore in the sub-$25 range. Hence, I find the value offerings at Honbo burgers a lot lesser than what you get in typical Gourmet burger places in Singapore.
The quality at Honbo sits similar to Fat Boys burgers burger offerings (though Fat Boys does has fries included in the sub-$20 price range), and is far better than the junk burgers we had at NBCB Burgers in Orchard Central. However, paired up to the competition, this puts Honbo Burger’s asking price up there in the sub-$30 burger price range even offered at the more premium Wolfgang Zwiener steakhouse burgers.
If Honbo’s signature crispy burgers is something not your fancy, great competing and alternative offerings in the similar quality range includes Burger Frites we had at Joo Chiat and Burgs Burgers, with great burgers priced at half the price offerings of Honbo, albeit in the less upmarket non-Chijmes neighborhood.
In conclusion, Honbo Burger offers a hipster dining experience in Chijmes, Singapore. It is one of a Fusion of Asian and Western Flavors in the Heart of Chijmes, with a take on classic American burgers. The quality of the burgers, although on the pricier side, is certainly worth trying for the quality and taste it brings. The crispy beef patties and simple yet flavorful combinations make Honbo a standout in the gourmet burger scene. If you’re looking for a new twist on classic burgers, Honbo is a one on your shortlist in the heart of the city. If their burgers are priced tad cheaper, it would score better for value and get a firmer recommendation.
This review is not sponsored by the establishment nor did they provide any editorial input or reimbursements into the content and outcome of this review. All meals were paid for in full out of my own pocket as a regular anonymous patron.
Must Go! | Actually pretty Good | Worth Trying | Shortlist Optionally | Should Avoid
Honbo Burgers Chijmes Locality Map
Honbo Burgers CHIJMES
30 Victoria Street, Unit #01-09,
Opening Hours: 12- 9:30 pm
Closed on Mondays.