Saturday, November 04, 2006
The sight of this burger should humble most others, make Ronald flush in embarrassment to call his BigMac and make burgers from Carl's Jr politically-correct. After reading ieat's post on this burger that he managed to get Aston to include in the menu, I knew I had to sink my teeth into it and experience the ieat Super Burger!
Aston is the guy behind Astons Specialties which he re-opened at East Coast Road just this August after shifting from an older unit. It caught my attention while on the bus not too long ago. Anything new along that stretch is just too eye-catching, especially when the queues are long. The first visit to Astons Specialties was with Ewan who kept egging me after battling burger fantasies I suppose. We arrived at nearly 9pm on a Friday and joined the human snake for about 15 minutes before we got a table. I re-visited the place again the following week at 7.30pm on a Saturday and this time the human snake seemed to have grown. It took me almost 30 minutes to get a table for four.
Aston's seating capacity is rather limited and a group of 10 would easily occupy a third of the place. There is no fancy cutlery, no nice table cloth, no lit candle on the table, and even the air-conditioning seems almost non-existent. But at Astons Specialties, it is really all about the food or more specifically, the beef.
The first item up for review has got to be the ieat Super Burger ($12.50). Named after fellow local flogger (food blogger), ieat. Apparently the burger was so in demand that Aston has decided to place it as a regular item on the menu. And it did not disappoint. No minced rubbish here. What sits on the barbecue-sauce-smeared bottom halve of the bun is a hand-chopped 200g sirloin patty. In other words, pure beef sans fillers and binding agents. Slapped atop the sirloin patty are slices of cheese and two rashers of bacon. Next followed the battered and fried onion wisps. This is one ingredient that I've seldom come across (most just use fresh sliced onion) but it added such a nice oniony sweetness to the burger. It seems that frying the onion strips had tamed its astringency, making it more palatable and less harsh. A dollop of mayonnaise and terriyaki sauce were added which enhanced the burger, giving it a creamy, savoury flavour. For a slight respite from the grease, a slice of tomato and a leaf of batavia lettuce were inserted before the top halve of the burger was capped. I definitely rank this as one of the best burgers around. One look at the inviting juices leaking out and it doesn't take much to convince anyone that this is one juicy burger. Take it from a hungry cow. One bite and you'll see why. In fact, I had to ask the waitress to cut the burger in halve, for easy sharing and more manageable eating but in the process it had made the burger look flatter in the above picture.
For starters, I ordered the Soup of the Day($2.20) which turned out to be pretty forgettable cream of mushrooms. It tasted rather similar to the instant powdered soups found in packets. But I discovered that with an order of a pasta, the soup would come free. And thus ordered the Spaghetti Bolognese ($5.90). The spaghetti was not soggy, but I would have preferred it to be more al dente. The sauce that bathed it was rich and had hints of the sliced capsicum in it. Decent but not fantastic, I feel.
My dad had the Grilled Lamb Loin chops ($13.90). I was expecting a rack of lamb with the bone still sticking out from the chops but what greeted me looked like those chicken chops from western foodcourt stalls. Thankfully, it was tender and not too lamby. The Grilled Pepper Fish ($5.90) went to my mum. The dory fillet was a little burnt on the sides and would have tasted bland if not for the powerful black pepper sauce that accompanied it.
My sis tried the Hickory BBQ Chicken ($5.50) which was a nice piece of chicken thigh but I found the BBQ sauce a tad too overwhelming. Perhaps they could have marinated the chicken more and reduce the potency of the sauce, letting the flavours of the chicken and the marinade shine. (Sorry for the intense flash that made the coleslaw glow. I assure you it's not radioactive.)
What Ewan and I shared besides the soup, spaghetti bolognese and super burger was the Prime Ribeye Extra-Cut ($14.90). This was 250g of ribeye with nice fat marbling, grilled to medium-rare perfection. Was it good? You bet. The black grill lines imparted a smokey touch to the tender beef. Although there was a mushroom sauce that came with it, I recommend eating the steak on its own to savour its taste.
On my second visit, I ordered the current month special, corn-fed USDA Choice Ribeye Extra-cut ($28.90). This steak was also ordered medium-rare and I would have got a picture of its beautiful pink insides if not for the fact that I was too hungry and greedy. This was a bigger slab of beef at 300g but still was incapable of defeating my stomach. Lawry's Diamond Jim Brady at almost 500g was a piece of cake. Seriously, they don't call me a four-stomach animal for nothing.
Back to the meat, this cut had a higher fat content than the regular ribeye, making it jucier and succulent. But I'm a little adverse to foods with too much oil or in this case, too high a fat marbling. Too tender a meat and it starts to feel like soft mush in the mouth. I like a good-sized steak with enough fat to keep it tender yet able to retain its firm meaty texture. In my opinion, if one likes beef as tender as say, fish, then my advise is to go order fish. Having said that, the steak was by no means bad. Each bite was full of beefy goodness but pity it was too soft for my liking. Alas.
By the way, each meat (beef, lamb, fish, chicken) main course comes with a choice of two sides. Sides include choices like fries, onion rings, mashed potato, baked potato, pasta salad, baked beans, green salad, tasty rice, potato salad and coleslaw. What I would recommend is the pasta salad. Simply drizzled with what I suspect and hope to be olive oil and sprinkled with pepper and a bit of herbs, this is evidence that food kept simple can taste delicious.
Considering the well-affordable prices and the quality of the steaks, it doesn't take a cow to explain the queue. Absolute valued-for-money. Personally, I feel that the standard of the non-beef items can be improved. With a little tweaking, I'm sure Aston's will be a winning formula of good food at good prices.
119 East Coast Road
Aston Soon: 91474627
(Closed on Mondays)
Opens Tuesday-Thursday 12pm-1am and until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays.
Chew On This: If you are a fan of wagyu beef, rejoice that this prized choice of beef is also available here for about $39. On the menu, it's called Celebrities Cut. Call to enquire its availability to avoid disappointment. Aston is also open to food requests for your gatherings there.