KUALA LUMPUR, March 15 — “Pork!” exclaims Leonard Park, instantly reacting to a question about what makes Fatboys The Burger Bar different from others. To be sure, the kitchen manager of the newly-opened burger joint is spot on; despite the popularity of “proud-of-pork” places like Cristang, Betty's Midwest Kitchen, and Belly Good (to name a few), Klang Valley doesn't have a classic burger-and-fries diner that serves its pork-loving demographic.
But it'd be glib to round down what's so unique about Fatboys to just that. This outlet in Publika, Solaris Dutamas is the third in the Singapore-born burger chain. Founded by brothers Kennie and Bernie Tay, the specialist burger first opened in Upper Thompson Road in September 2009. This was when the “gourmet burger” trend was big in Singapore, with The Handburger and Relish introducing the idea of a premium hamburger that was made-to-order, made with daily ground choice meats and topped with unique relish mixes.
“My brother and I have always wanted to own a restaurant and we were always intrigued with casual diners from our younger days of travelling overseas,” said Bernie in an interview with Young Upstarts. ”So naturally when we found out that we have enough funds to do something like that, I made that decision of leaving my day job and fully invested in this project.”
Part of the reason why Fatboys is successful is because of its laid-back Americana-theme, unique creations and casual feel – which all reflect Bernie's 20-year history in the food business, including Hard Rock Cafe, and Park's decade-long stint with Planet Hollywood in KL.
“We try to create a retro atmosphere to the place, with '50s and '60s American rock-and-roll music in the background, and we paid a lot of attention to the artwork throughout the restaurant,” says Park.
Unlike the neat, knife-and-fork dining experience you'd get at The Daily Grind in Bangsar, the mood here is much more laid back. Here, a burger's meant to be eaten and enjoyed in its stacked glory, oozing and sloppy, with diners showing equal expressions of worry and excitement as they think: “How the heck am I going to fit this into my mouth?”
The creations too can elicit bewildered looks from diners. While the top of menu items like the Fat Basterd (a six-inch-tall stack consisting of double beef chuck patties, extra-thick bacon, cheddar, fried egg and sauce), and The Wimpy (a single-patty Fat Basterd) are favourites, it's the bizarre creations like The Elvis (single patty served with grilled bananas and peanut butter as relish) that capture the interest of most diners.
“They aren't novelties,” says restaurant manager Sam Liew, adding that they get quite a healthy order of those. Among the creations she favours is The Jamaican Me Hungry, which tucks in a meat patty, sun-dried tomatoes, bacon, and coleslaw under its bun. She adds that each patty served here weighs 180gms, and customers have a choice of choosing between beef, pork, lamb or chicken.
“We're also sorting things out with Bernie to have seasonal burgers, like a teriyaki burger, but that's in the near future when we've settled down,” she adds. “We've also had a few customers creating their own burgers, coming up with interesting inventions – one created what she called the Frankenstein.”
Since opening in late-February, the kitchen hands at Fatboy's haven't had much of a break, especially on weekends. “Saturdays and Sundays are the busiest days for us,” says Park, “but it's relatively trouble-free compared to some of the restaurants I've opened before. Last weekend we put out about 300 burgers, and we're looking to deliver around the nearby areas like Hartamas once we've got things under control.”
Other future plans include serving beer-on-tap – few things wash down a burger better than beer – but until then, you can quaff your thirst with a bottled beer, or a milkshake (RM10 gets you a double shot of Kahlua or Baileys thrown in).
Fatboys The Burger Bar is located at Lot 30 Level G2 Publika No.1 Jalan Dutamas 1, Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur. For reservations, call 03-6206 1352.
(Note: Aside from the Honey Stung Fried Chicken and Waffles and the Breakfast Fry Up, the Malaysian outlet serves all the dishes its Singaporean counterparts do.)