In the lead up to the Beijinger's month-long Burger Cup (kicking off May 16 with burger specials around town), we are grilling the restaurateurs taking part. Today's segment stars Elin Hung, co-founder of Chat Room, one of the many eateries that will not only be slinging juicy patties at our May 28 Burger Festival, but also vying for the title of Burger Cup champion (voting for which begins on May 30).

A burger need not be fatty. For proof, look no further than Chat Room. The chic Joy City venue serves up a wide range of light, vitamin rife dishes. This should come as no surprise given the owners' prior experience founding and running both locations of The Rug, which have become known as prime destinations for organic, intricately handmade dishes. And while serious care has gone into that healthy fare, Hung and her cohorts still know how to have fun with Chat Room's offerings. Below, she dishes about their colorful, creative sliders.

Give us the lowdown on your sliders (which will be available at the Beijinger's 2016 Burger Festival on May 28).

From left to right in the picture above:

  • The Black Pearl Double Sliders (RMB 69 for two sliders, singles for RMB 35 at this year's Burger Fest) A fried fish patty slathered with tartar jam, cheese sauce and lettuce. The bun is died black with squid ink.
  • The Red Velvet Double Sliders (RMB 69 for two sliders, singles for RMB 35 at this year's Burger Fest) The patty is made of fried chicken, and it is topped with a slightly spicy mayonnaise. This burger's buns are died in beetroot juice to make them bright red.
  • The Green Valley (RMB 63 for two sliders, singles for RMB 32 at this year's Burger Fest) A vegetarian's dream burger! Its patty is made of tofu and wild mushrooms, and that garden theme is extended to its spinach died green buns.

The Old Fashion Double Sliders (RMB 79 for two sliders, singles for RMB 40 at this year's Burger Fest)
This burger has a classic handmade beef patty, topped with a savory cheese slice and black sugar dipped onions, along with lettuce and tomato.

Fun Buns: The Inspiration Behind Chat Room's Colorful Sliders
We believe the restaurant business should be entertaining. We want people to enjoy it. Since we're making the buns ourselves, we can have fun with them and make the customers feel happy when they see them. Plus, we use fresh ingredients. So it's healthy and pretty. At The Rug we already use red beetroot for juice, and we use ink to make our pizza crust black. Since we have those ingredients on hand, we thought: "Why not blend them with burger buns? It's not a lot of effort, and it'll make the burger look pretty and healthy."

Bigger ain't always better
We chose to make sliders, not regular big burgers, because we have carefully observed our customers. A lot of them like to share plates, and sample a variety of things. So that's why we sell sliders in pairs at the restaurant – that way three or four friends can come, each order a different kind of slider, and mix and match.

Chow down without messing up
By making the burgers smaller and selling them in pairs, our customers can share without having to cut a big patty. The idea is for friends to come in groups and mix and match. Or, if you're coming by yourself and you can't finish both sliders then we can pack the second one for you easily, rather you carrying a messy half eaten big burger. Chat Room is in a big mall, so a lot of our customers are shopping females. They tend to not want to dirty their hands, so we want to serve sliders that'll meet that need.

The Beijinger's 2016 Burger Cup is brought to you in cooperation with the following sponsors: Oasis Hospital, McCain Fries, and Santa Fe Movers, Etonkids, and Sherpa's.

Photos: Kyle Mullin, Tracy Wang


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