Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Johnny goes all steamy

Ever since my mom got me to tag along on her weekly visits at the Salcedo Market in Makati, I've appreciated perusing the alternative foodie offerings of such weekend marketplaces. Often, these are foods that you would normally not see in the malls or major grocery stores, such as specialty bagels, flavored milk teas and steamed burgers.

Wait a tick. Steamed burgers?!

That's exactly what Mabie and I had for lunch on our Sunday morning visit to Bonifacio Global City's Mercato Centrale. A place called Johnny Steams sells burgers with patties that aren't fried or grilled, as goes conventional practice, but steamed instead. Hmmm. Interesting...

The first thing I spotted on the menu was a riot. The basic PhP95 burger is called "JM's Burger." It isn't every day you come across a food item named after you...or someone who's got the same nickname as yours. Frankly, I would've tried this for kicks had I not noticed the item below it. I'm a sucker for spicy things, and the PhP115 Chili Cheese Burger seemed to fit the bill.

Mabie meanwhile ordered something further down the menu, the PhP115 "Opa! Burger," the name an obvious reference to Greek food. One of the headline features is yogurt sauce, and what seems like quite a bit more cheese than usual. 

Just as I had requested our order, the prioprietor, a kind Chinoy guy named John Mark Ongsiaco (so that's what the "JM" stood for) asked us if we wanted each of our burgers as a combo meal for PhP165. The extra dosh gets you a funnel cone full of potato wedges and some lemonade. I had my burger a la carte, while Mabie had hers as a combo.

Warming up the buns...
The burgers are prepared right before your eyes on a large electric hot plate. The special steamed patties, meanwhile, are fished out of a little rectangular tray, full of meat juices - and I was too slow to snap photos of these. Sorry 'bout that. They're thick and rectangular and pretty dense packed.

Adding the veggie trappings
Check out that patty!

So how do these burgers taste? My burger was pretty solid and filling. The patty itself is a little less flavorful than an equivalent grilled or fried one, but as a healthy option it's much better than I was expecting, and is very good value for what you get. The burger had a lot of hot sauce, which is a little disappointing, but redeemed itself with jalapeƱo slices all over. Mabie's Opa! Burger was a similar story, but with less heat and a cheesier, milkier taste - almost a large-sized hybrid between a cheeseburger and a doner kebab or shawarma. The potato wedges, while deep-fried, were very filling and I preferred these to run-of-the-mill french fries.

My Chili Cheese Burger...minus a few bites
Mabie's Opa! Burger, halfway through
Potato wedges - a very filling alternative to French fries
That said, I'm a little surprised that Johnny Steams doesn't ballyhoo the potentially healthful benefits of steaming its burger patties rather than grilling or frying them. Its wares are simply presented as cooked in an alternative, left-field manner, which is refreshing in an age where people are saturated with ads and signage invariably screaming "try this healthy option!" 

An interesting, flavorful alternative to Brothers Burger at a lower price. Pound-for-pound, we think they've got a winner here.

Johnny Steams
John Mark O. Ongsiaco, proprietor


  1. Gosh, I really have to try Mercato. Everyone's been raving about it and I'm probably the only loser who haven't.

  2. @Beia:
    You should :) It's not too far away from your place or your work is it?

    Looks like they're not really going any place else soon. I figure they'll be waiting for your arrival ;)

    Thanks for the visit! Hope to catch you there sometime. It's been ages.

  3. Yes super yummy and super busog:D


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