What? Our video whizz, Dean had just told me that the National Aerated Water Company premises were back in business. I could hardly believe it— that building has been abandoned since my earliest childhood memories of it. But sure enough, the news checked out: Simple Burger was in.
The chain currently has two other branches, one at Suntec and the other in JEM. Thinking about the clean, minimalist lines which set Simple Burger apart, I wondered how it would fit into the Art-Deco architecture of the National Aerated Water Company building.
When we turned up, it was clear that it didn’t have to. This building is conserved, yes, but that applies to only the outside. Several fixtures that date back to a different era makes this an interesting place to visit apart from the food.
There is still an ancient gas pump there, bright yellow and cheery.
Notice the 2 round black plastic light switches? Many kids today have never seen one before. It’s such a beautiful contrast against the white paint and glass walls of Simple Burger.
A bit of history sure works up an appetite— we headed in after ooh-ing and aahh-ing a bit more.
What I tried at Simple Burger
Dean went for the Chicken Burger (S$7.50) and added a side of Crispy Fried Onions (S$1.50). All sides, including Balsamic Sauteed Onions, Red Wine Sauteed Mushroom, Fried Egg and Cheddar Slice cost the same.
Every burger order opens up the salad bar, where you can help yourself to 10 different garnishes. Among your choices are Sliced Pickles, Sliced Olives, Capsicum, Coleslaw and Relish.
I liked the presentation. From the oversized patty jutting out from between the soft, well-shaped bun to the partly-melted yellow cheese, everything looked just perfect. (Credit partly to Dean who packed his greens and onion inside so well)
Light-coloured and juicy, the patty is definitely a step above your typical fast-food fare. The onion rings are a great accompaniment, particularly when dipped in the rich chilli sauce to which you can help yourself.
I decided to be a bit different and went for the Chilli Dog (S$7.50). For my Side, I chose Rosti (S$3). The American diner look and feel virtually forced me to order a Vanilla SIMPLEshake (S$4). It’s the cheapest on the menu with the other 5 flavours— Berry, Cocoa, Banana, Oreo and Blackforest— all costing S$5.
The chicken cheese sausage comes with lettuce and is topped with shredded cheddar. I did enjoy this but I think Dean’s burger was the better of the two— I’ll be ordering that on my next visit.
Hey, but at least my Side won! Chock full of tomato, capsicum and other veggies, the Rosti was very nicely executed and easily the best thing on our table.
My Vanilla SIMPLEshake went down smoothly. It was rich in flavour and at what for me was just the perfect consistency.
We had tried Simple Burger before, but that was 4 years ago, and it seems the concept has changed quite a bit since then.
Taste-wise, they have been consistent — the burgers are still delicious. This leaner layout and ordering concept is probably the fruit of lessons learned along the way. I think the change has been for the better.
My only concern is that there is hardly any publicity behind this new Simple Burger outlet. I live around the area and had not noticed the new tenants despite passing by the building many times. On the day I visited, the 3 other patrons eating there were residents of the residential block adjacent.
On the whole, I think a lot of my excitement was over the National Aerated Water Company building rising again after decades of stagnancy. Several of the older friends I spoke with also expressed a desire to visit purely because of the nostalgia factor.
In that sense, Simple Burger just might be able to get people through the door. Their food will do the rest.
Expected damage: S$7.50 – S$22.50 per pax
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Price: $ $
Our Rating: 4 / 5
1177 Serangoon Road, Singapore 328231
1177 Serangoon Road, Singapore 328231