As you may know, Shanghai's most prestigious, highly-regarded expat magazine CityWeekend is currently running their annual Readers' Choice Awards, something they do every spring to
And that's fine. But what about Shanghai's worst burgers? The raunchiest, most vile, straight up abortive burgers in town -- where is their awards ceremony?
With that in mind, we present Ghetto Burgers -- a grudge match between some of the city's most heinous pieces of mystery meat, sandwiched between slabs of cardboard and pain.
For this first and possibly last edition of Ghetto Burgers, we've got Whose Bed's "The head of a bed of beef and vegetables a cheeseburger with fries", a.k.a. The Bed Burger, vs. Le Hollywood Royale, a.k.a. the shit that those dudes from Anhui cook up outside of the Lawson's on Yueyang Lu by Hollywood club.
The Bed Burger
Whose Bed is a bed-themed restaurant in Tianzifang that's received a lot of Dianping love. The restaurant's name also carries the risqué double meaning of "who slept with who?" They specialize in deep fried foods, served by young waitresses wearing Lilo & Stitch onesies in a place with bed-shaped tables.
But what you really come here for is The Bed Burger. This is straight up designed for snapping photos and sharing to social media. It is not functional as a meal.
They wheel out The Bed Burger on a tray shaped like a bed, paired with barely-warm fries and a plastic cheese sauce, then remove the top bun and cut the joint into quarters.
The bun is a crucial element of any burger. This place actually encourages patrons to not eat the top bun. It is rock-like.
The Bed Burger is topped with cucumbers, a strain of mushrooms that should never appear on a burger, an egg, and onions, all drowning in the bastard cousin of Big Mac sauce. The patty itself seems to contain very little beef, and what's there has been chopped up and combined with onions and other mysteries. The taste of meat is noticeably absent.
It's rare that I don't finish a burger, but eating this feels like having your prom date leave you for another dude. It's like finding out that Santa isn't real. Dogs would turn this shit down. Other selections were equally deplorable.
But the customers, mostly white-collar local women, seemed to really enjoy the experience. The general consensus was "hen hao".
Also, the kitchen looks like an exploded meth lab and the chef was squatting down eating a large bowl of rice n' bits with a big wooden spoon. Gotta give it to them though, the service was fucking on-point. Really nice people running this joint.
Le Hollywood Royale
These bros from Anhui have been cooking up 35rmb burgers outside of Hollywood discothèque, a.k.a. Lil' Pocket Of Hell, for four years now. Business is good. The scene around their stand on a Friday or Saturday night is like a study abroad / marketing internship gone retarded, drunk on bathtub alcohol, and in the mix with some sex workers and fake homeless people. It is happening. You will need to wait in line for Le Hollywood Royale.
Let's feed these hungry expats.
So, Anhui bros say all their beef comes from Qingdao. Nice! Qingdao beef, they sell that in CityShop. Next to the grill sits a tub of patties, all packed with love but no refrigeration. I was skeptical. I didn't want to eat it. But I asked around to some of the other customers…
Me: "Have you tried this before? Did you get sick?"
German dude: "Yes…It was awesome. I was completely wasted."
Me: "So you didn't get sick?"
German dude: "I don't remember."
Gotta give it to Anhui bros, their burger looks really nice. Not sure where they're sourcing these buns from, but nice work. Is this shit halal? Think so.
The burger itself, it's quite reaffirming on the first bite. Like, "oh, this might actually be beef -- these are just people trying to make an honest living. Years abroad have made me jaded".
The meat was medium rare, pink in the middle. CRUNCH. A big bite of gristle almost cracked my molar. Beef should not contain gristle. Beef is expensive in China. How could they sell this for 35rmb? I started thinking about my cat, sitting at home on the bed, dreaming about some birds…
And I just couldn't finish the Hollywood Royale. Then some drunk Swedish girl got all sassy about "it's a rule that once you finish your burger you have to give up your seat". I refused. She said I'm fucking up my karma balance. I said my karma surplus is like the GDP of a small country. Her viking friends rolled outside and that was the cue to leave. In the cab home Boyz II Men's "I'LL MAKE LOVE TO YOU..TILL THE ENNNNNNNND OFFFFFF TIME" played on repeat. Started freaking out about getting sick.
Didn't get ill. But never again.
But I must say, Le Hollywood Royale transcends culture, race, class -- fucking everything. People love this shit.
EVERYONE IS A STAR.
And the winner is…
Le Hollywood Royale!
Sure, the Bed Burger was raunchy, but its patty seemed to contain more onion, veg, and inorganic bits than questionable meat. But Le Hollywood Royale -- that thing is just evil condensed. It LOOKS like a beef burger, yet it cannot be. It fucks with your mind. The whole experience is like having risky sex then waiting a week for the AIDS test results to come.
Until next time -- see you at the awards show!