food

Hambaobao, Sam Leong Rd: “Sinful in the most delightful way”

Last Updated: October 14, 2021

Written by Ariel C.

You might call me a fake fan, but I’ll just put it out there that the first time I tried Hambaobao was for the purpose of this review. Real Westies would’ve been frequent patrons of their Beauty World Centre outlet, and lamented the fact that they closed down.

a flatlay of burgers and fries

Me? I kept my expectations high. It’s hard to screw up the ol’ reliable burgers-and-fries combination, and harder, perhaps, to truly make an impression that can outshine the many competitors.

What I tried

ayam berkuah burger

Their Ayam Buah Keluak (S$8) burger caught my attention first, simply because it’s not usually what you’d think of when perusing a menu for burgers. Hambaobao makes a mean signature buttery toasted brioche, into which a fragrant patty made of keluak nut, minced chicken, and chap chye is stuffed and seasoned to rave-worthy perfection with rempah.

I wouldn’t consider it entirely savoury, the way most burgers often are, and as a result felt slightly confused at first bite. The combination of spices won me over by the second bite, especially because the intensity of the ayam buah keluak was balanced out by the brioche—giving it a lighter flavour that made the burger suddenly feel a lot smaller than I wish it was. The chap chye provided an unexpected textural contrast, with the most subtle of crunches.

a close up of crispy pork belly burger from hambaobao

Maybe subtle crunches aren’t your thing because you believe in going big or going home. That’s not a problem, because your visit to Hambaobao will surely include an order of their Crispy Pork Belly (S$8) burger. You’ve eaten siew yok on rice, so switch things up by having it on brioche instead.

Those golden-brown discs house thickly-cut slices of pork belly crisp to a T, over which a generous drizzle of English mustard rests. I found the texture remarkable, but I’ll admit that this didn’t quite blow me away—the combination of savoury pork with the strident flavour profile of mustard would’ve been best enjoyed separately. Combined with the cool sweetness of cucumber, the ingredients felt like they were all fighting for attention.

Simplicity is key, and best embraced when Hambaobao’s star of the show is already crispy and cooked to perfection.

pulled pork burger from hambaobao

For me, beef burgers are always the way to go, but a great option that’s worth giving a shot at Hambaobao is their Spiced Pulled Pork (S$7.50) burger. This baby was a strong contender for my ‘save the best for last’ award, though my main gripe was that it got super messy, super fast.

Their pulled pork reminded me of the five-spice powder every Asian family’s kitchen will have, the lemon mayo gave it an added notch of acidity, but what sealed the deal was the additional bursts of savouriness from the cheese and buttered bun. It goes without saying that this is sinful in the most delightful of ways, but if this is how I die, then take me.

hand in frame shot of cheeseburger

I saved The Classic Beef (S$7.50) for the last because this unassuming little burger marked the first time in my 20 years of living that I not only ate pickles in a burger, but also enjoyed every bite. And if that doesn’t deserve a gold medal, then I don’t know what will.

Few woes cannot be remedied with a juicy beef patty, especially when paired with Hambaobao’s homemade tomato sauce, fresh lettuce, and yes, pickles. It lacked the distinctive tanginess I never really enjoyed, instead of boasting of a slightly sweet flavour that juxtaposed the melt-in-your-mouth beef elevated by the crunch of lettuce. Immensely comforting with a foolproof combination of ingredients, the compliment I have for The Classic Beef is taken straight out of every kid’s dream report card from school—an utmost pleasure to have (in class).

hand cut fries close up shot

Add on their Hand Cut Fries (S$2.50+) for maximum feasting and minimum dieting and thank me later when you’re wiping the grease from your fingertips.

apom berkuah cake

Finish your meal with the Apom Berkuah (S$5), a swiss roll cake unlike any other I’ve tried. The bright blue swirls will catch your eyes first, though what took the cake for me was their innovative mix of banana, coconut, gula melaka, and yoghurt. Exceptionally creamy, with a fluffiness to rival a cloud, this is a must-order menu item at Hambaobao. No, I will not take criticism.

dark angel cake

Speaking of must-order menu items, Hambaobao’s menu also includes a DARKANGEL_1992_(S$4.50). This dark chocolate angel cake is made without egg yolks, resulting in the lightest of textures without the slightest compromise on taste and richness.

dark angel cake

It’ll let you end your meal on a sweet note without being too overbearing after all that savoury food—don’t be fooled by the generous portion, it’ll leave you wanting seconds.

Final thoughts

a photo of a cheeseburger from hambaobao 

Hambaobao is hambao-back, and for one, I’m wondering why it’s only now that I get to try it. Better late than never, right? It’ll be the place to hit up for a comforting meal, and in that regard, it deserves a pat on the back from me.

Expected damage: S$7.50 – S$10 per pax

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Price: $

Our Rating: 4 / 5

Hambaobao

11 Sam Leong Road, Trio Building, #03-08, Singapore 207903

Price
Our Rating 4/5

Hambaobao

11 Sam Leong Road, Trio Building, #03-08, Singapore 207903

Operating Hours: 12pm - 3pm & 6pm - 8.30pm (Tue to Sun), Closed on Mon

Operating Hours: 12pm - 3pm & 6pm - 8.30pm (Tue to Sun), Closed on Mon
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