Now, given that our last foodie review was also a burger joint (The Diner on Arbuthnot Rd to be precise – review right here!), I’d hate for you to get the wrong impression about our diet, and Young Master T-T’s eating habits in particular. We’re lucky to have a pretty good eater, all things considered, and the boy will just and happily tuck into veggie moussaka as he will fish fingers most of the time. Mr T-T is a great cook and we’ve got a spice cupboard bursting at the seams with exotic ingredients to rival any deli counter.
But, as any creepy old womaniser will tell you, there are times when, even with a gorgeous fillet steak waiting patiently for you at home, you just fancy a dirty burger. And so we found ourselves last weekend, after a diverting time bombing around at FunZone, heading over to the newly-opened Burger Circus on Hollywood Rd.
In a prime spot beneath the Mid-Levels escalator, this retro diner promises to whisk you away from a smoggy HK underpass to the Midwestern shake shack of your true blue 1950s American dreams, complete with white-hatted-and-aproned staff, neon signs and retro booth seating. The menu is all about the classics – there’s seven variants on the USDA approved beef burger, plus a chicken burger and tuna melt sneaked in for good measure. Veggies – come for the fries and desserts or pick another place. This menu is not for you.
Fortunately we were all feeling kind of carnivorous that day (my pregnancy protein craving is surely now responsible for major Amazonian deforestation?), so loaded up on two burgers and two sides to share between the three of us.
Mr T-T – always a sucker for some good ol’ US junk food – went simple with the bacon and cheese-laden Circus Burger, while I got a bit more topping-happy with The Whole Show, starring a fried egg and pickled beetroot (thanks forever to my time backpacking around Australia for showing me that pickled beetroot can be added to virtually any food with great success). We added the Circus Fries and some onion rings to our food order, and went all-out crazy on the drinks with a housemade strawberry and basil soda for me, and one of the signature DIY candy shakes (M&Ms, marshmallows and Malteasers, blended into a thick vanilla shake with cream on top) for the male contingent to share. All in all, a light, low-cal lunch then. Just what the doctor ordered (if you’re extremely rich and your doctor charges by the hour).
First to land was my soda, which although a tad sweet for my taste, was refreshing, with a clear, green basil hit cutting through the syrupy pinkness. This was swiftly followed by sparkling water at a bargain HK$28 for a large carafe – more places should offer this (only Burger Circus and Linguini Fini that I’ve visited recently).
Then the event that was the shake. With the exception of a chocolate malt, I’m not really a fan of shakes, but a small sip confirmed this was a really yummy dessert-in-a-glass type affair, and both menfolk assured me it was a great example of the genre (at least, I think that’s what the boy was getting at when he burst into tears as I tried to take it away for a second to get a picture).
Next up, the burgers. These were decent sized without being intimidatingly large (how DO you eat a burger neatly anyway?) and were well-stuffed with toppings and served wrapped in paper with a cardboard sleeve. Although smaller in stature than the comparable burgers at The Diner, these patties were nicely cooked, juicy and – crucially – hot on arrival. The Circus Burger was reviewed as “OK, a pretty decent bacon and cheese burger and well-cooked” by Mr T-T, “yummy” by Young Master T-T and “good but would be improved by the addition of beetroot” by me (yes, I think that qualifies as a craving). The Whole Show certainly satisfied my need for pickled vegetables, while the fried egg packed an extra protein punch without being greasy. We were all in agreement that this was the better burger of the two.
Sadly, we were left uninspired by the Circus Fries, whose gloopy pink “Circus Sauce” and weird processed American “cheese” topping (you know, that stuff that bears no resemblance to actual cheese, and is more akin to clingfilm left out all day in the sun) left us cold. And a bit queasy. The onion rings were far more successful, and, although we did have to remind our waiter about them, they were crisp, well-seasoned and delicious when they finally arrived at the table.
Being greedy gluttons, we managed to find room to split a Banana Cream Pie three ways… well, let’s call it two ways, and we grudgingly spared Mr T-T a forkful. This gooey, biscuity, custardy slice of loveliness was a delicious end to the meal, with a fresh fruity flavour and a lighter-than-expected texture making this less cloying than you might think.
Our final tally came to just about HK$500, which wasn’t bad at all for three (and that’s a man who REALLY loves burgers, a starving hungry pregnant woman and a three-year-old with hollow legs). For a return visit, I’d probably skip the sides and soft drinks in favour of a burger, sparkling water and dessert (the chocolate brownie also looked EPIC), and for a slightly lighter lunch, perhaps investigate the Cannonbowl, which is the burger minus bun, served with extra lettuce instead of bread.
Overall, this was a decent meal at a good price in a great location. This is a pretty kid-friendly option (if your kid likes burgers, obvs), and the casual bench seating is easy for little legs.
Burger Circus is all the fun of the fair with a retro twist, and if you’re eating with small people, those candy shakes are a cast-iron bribe that will buy you no end of good behaviour… until the inevitable sugar crash, that is.
Opening hours: Daily, 12pm – 12am
Burger Circus, 22 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong; 2878 7787
Please note that we paid for this meal ourselves.