Tiger Burger: From Auckland With Love, Part 1

Hear me roar

We’ve got plenty to love right here in the Tron. But just how does it compare with the latest and greatest of Auckland’s food scene? We look at two burger joints to get an idea. Today, Sam recounts his experience of the cutting edge of the East-West fusion, and next week, Ye-Gon reports on the mack daddy of Auckland’s burger chain, Burger Wisconsin.

Sam: I’m not in Auckland often, but when I am, I love seeking out unique and interesting food establishments; after all, this big, bustling city is suffused with them, whether they be found on a main street, or hiding in a quiet alleyway.

So it was with great anticipation that a good friend, an Auckland resident, took me to Tiger Burger – A Korean inspired burger bar found on the highly trafficked Great North Road. Not your average burger bar, Tiger Burger combines the classically enticing western burger with a distinct Korean twist, elevating Kimchi – a staple in Korean cuisine – to special prominence within the menu.

Speaking of the menu, I was particularly impressed with how simply and clearly laid out it was; often burger menus can become scattered and overwhelming, with 20 or so options leaving you befuddled as to what to try. In this case, all the bases were covered (rest assured the vegans among you), with 6 distinctly appealing burger items and a few sides to compliment, leaving me confident that this establishment wasn’t just trying to be a jack of all trades, but rather a master of its niche.

Anyway, on to the food! For the main meal, we ordered the Double Kimcheese with beef and chicken, and K-Fries. And oh Lordy were those K-Fries good. As the name suggests, these are not normal fries, but fries with a Kimchi twist; and as the dish approached the table, my taste buds began salivating on overdrive. Essentially, K-Fries are a bowl of shoestring fries slathered with a chunky, gravy-like Kimcheese sauce. The sauce is deliciously sweet, with a punchy spiciness to keep you sharp; and, spread throughout is the house-made kimchi, providing a nice chewy texture and a slight sourness to contrast the otherwise savory nature of the dish. Needless to say, they didn’t last very long.

When the burgers arrived, I experienced that familiar kind of cognitive dissonance one has when faced with a burger that evokes feelings of both trepidation and exhilaration; trepidation because my mind’s telling me, “No Sam, don’t do this to yourself”, and exhilaration because my body’s telling me, “Oh, yes Sam, this is your calling”. Before me was one of the most devilishly enticing burgers I had ever been presented with, stacked high with a thick beef patty resting beneath a golden brown piece of fried chicken, and dripping with gochu mayo. As I began eating I was pleasantly surprised with the sturdiness of the bun; all too often fast food establishments skimp out on this aspect, leading to a sticky, soggy mess, and a bun that becomes homogeneous with the rest of the burger. Not so in this case, instead the bun was nicely toasted, and just the perfect size to safely hold together the goodness between.  The fried chicken was also a standout, with a dry, crispy coating, concealing the succulent meat underneath. If anything, the burger lacked a bit of balance; omitting the addition of lettuce, and replacing this with kimchi, while tasty, made the burger a tad overwrought at times with an intense savory meatiness. Nevertheless, it was worth every bite, and made for a pleasantly intriguing combination of Korean and Western cuisine.

Lastly, for desert, was Chapsal Doughnuts (Korean rice ball donuts). The donuts came as a group of small, bite-sized balls, served along side house condensed coconut milk. Now, traditionally, the inside of a deep-fried donut is composed of bready-doughy texture; these donuts, however, were filled with a gooey-chewy center, permeated with a subtle rice pudding flavor. Coupled with the coconut dip, these were absolutely delectable; there’s something truly amazing about the contrast of a soft center and a crunchy outer layer, and these donuts nailed it. One criticism, though, is that the condensed coconut milk was slightly too thick, making it difficult to successfully dip the donuts in it, which is a shame as it made for a perfect compliment to the overall dish.

So, looking for a new place to try? A unique intersection of East and West? And a bloody good feed? I can safely say that despite my initial apprehensions, Tiger Burger ticked all these boxes, and many more. Notwithstanding a couple of minor downsides, this eatery blew away my expectations, and is certainly a must-try for anyone in the area – I know I’ll certainly be trying it again soon.

Tiger Burger is located at 549 Great North Rd, Grey Lynn, Auckland. Check out their website for information on their menu and opening hours.