As part of the Beijinger's month-long Burger Cup (which kicked off May 16 with burger specials around town), we take a closer look at some of this year's participants. Today we're grilling Ahava's co-founder Scott Ensminger, who will not only be slinging his Ahava classic burger at our May 28 Burger Festival, but also vying for the title of Burger Cup champion (voting for which begins on May 30).

Ahava co-founder Scott Ensminger designed the Ahava classic burger to have it all. "The beef is ground chuck, our own special blend that is seasoned in a way that emphasizes the salty and savory flavor of chuck. Then we double grind it for an even texture. The buns are handmade in shop and are slightly sweet to complement the savory beef. These buns are buttered and grilled, the beef is cooked on a flat top and then we add everything we love on a burger: cheddar, pickles, fresh onions, lettuce, tomato, and a special sauce. That special sauce rounds out the flavors, because it's tangy and has a tiny bit of spice," he says.

Ensminger emphasizes the need for every bite of the burger to have a full range of flavors and textures. "We've accomplished that, which is why this is the best burger around."

Below he tells us more about what makes the Ahava classic burger so special.

What does your burger come with, and what drink goes best with your burger?
The Ahava classic burger comes with handcut sweet potato fries or handcut regular fries. The sweet potato fries are highly recommended. We recommend trying it with the Jing-A Mandarin Wheat, which is an awesome brew.

Tell us more about the buns, beef, and toppings?
The buns are handmade in shop – light, golden and slightly sweet to complement the salty, savory burger. As for the beef, it is sourced locally, having a proper lean/fat ratio. We add our own blend of seasonings to emphasize the beefy flavor, and double grind it for a nice even texture.

As for toppings, there is cheddar, bacon, pickles, fresh onion, lettuce, tomato, and Ahava special sauce. 

Aside from your own restaurant's burger, what was the best burger you've ever had in town?
I'd have to say the Slow Boat Anxiety Burger. It is an incredible burger. Nothing too complicated, everything just right. 

What's the toughest part about slinging burgers in Beijing?
In general burgers and Western food are difficult to sell to local clientele. Our locations are not in the major expat areas so a high percentage of our customers are local. The difficulty is selling someone on a burger who only knows McDonald's. The benefit is turning someone into a burger lover for life after they have a really great experience at our restaurant.

What are your current promotions?
RMB 60 for any of our single burgers, which includes sweet potato or steak fries and a Tsingtao or Coke. Every round we advance we will take an extra 10 percent (RMB 6) off of that. So if we make the finals that's RMB 30, and RMB 24 if we win!

Stay tuned for further info on Burger Days discounts at Ahava and other restaurants around town from May 16 onward. Also, be sure to check the Beijinger blog for regular updates on the Burger Cup competition (voting for which begins May 30), and how you can cast your ballot for 2016's beef patty champion (which will be crowned on June 13). 

The Beijinger's 2016 Burger Cup is brought to you in cooperation with the following sponsors: Oasis HospitalMcCain FriesSanta Fe Movers, Etonkids, Sherpa's, Lonely Planet, Xian Cheng, and Asian Tigers.

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Photo: Margaux Schreurs


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