Put on your loosest pants, the Beijinger Burger Cup is back! In the lead up to the Burger Cook-Off Launch Party on August 23 and the start of voting on August 25, we are kicking off with Burger Wars: a series of face-offs pitting Beijing's beef patties against each other. These will not necessarily reflect the ultimate match-ups in our Burger Cup bracket, but give burger fans and burger chefs an idea as to how the product may fare in the final competition.
Come back often for more Burger Wars, information about the upcoming Burger Festival and news on how to vote.
In this round of Burger Cup competition, Sanlitun’s bar street darling First Floor comes to bouts with the somewhat more elusive Workers’ Stadium-area competitor Alibi. Both restaurants will be judged on the quality of their most basic double-bunned oblations: will the First Floor Burger ascend to exalted heights? Or will Alibi’s good old-fashioned Cheeseburger find First Floor’s offering merely in the wrong place at the wrong time?
Contestant One: Alibi
2013 Rank: N/A
Alibi’s Cheeseburger (RMB 35) comes in a wicker basket, tucked in safe with some old-school butcher paper. The grilled onions on top lend a nice vinegar-tipped kick to the sandwich, and the cheese is lovingly melted – not to oblivion, but enough to lend a smooth texture and a rich flavor to the whole package. The patty is delicious, if perhaps a tad chewy.
For any small discontents I might hold toward this burger, however, I’ll proudly extol that the MVP on this stack is the bun. Alibi’s rolls are lightly buttered and grilled to perfection: they're delicious and flavorful, with a soft, fluffy inside and a delightful crunchy charring on the outside.
Overall: Alibi’s burger is delicious – would be better, perhaps, with a shorter grill-time on the patty – but nonetheless delivers with two sumptuous secret weapons in the form of its out-of-this-world char-grilled buns.
Contestant 2: First Floor
2013 Rank: 14
The First Floor Burger (RMB 68) is served alongside a porcelain ladle of katsup and a messy handful of fries. The burger itself is quite tasty – if maybe not as well-packed as I’d like: the patty starts to fall apart into sloppy joes after a few bites. The meat is delightfully well-seasoned, though, and flavorful: indeed, it wouldn’t be far off to say the patty was the key player in the First Floor ring.
The cheese and onions don't add as much variety to the flavor as I would have hoped, and the decidedly bleh tones coming from the substantial bedding of lettuce underneath the patty docked points as well. The buns are standard restaurant fare: lightly dusted with butter and slapped on the irons for a spell; they're tasty, to be sure, but far from divine.
Overall: First Floor’s burger is thick, juicy, and tasty – but the sandwich, overall, is lacking a certain je ne sais pas: an ace-up-its-sleeve would have provided more oomph in competition.
Verdict: As far as return value is concerned, Alibi’s burger is a hidden gem outside the main street Sanlitun haunts. It is not an exaggeration to say a trip to Alibi is worth it just to try the buns. The First Floor entry was by no means unpalatable; it suffered merely by its lack of a defining characteristic, such as Alibi’s heavenly breadwork. Both joints serve up a delicious casual burger, but if it’s a real choice: make the trip to Workers’ Stadium for a cold beer, garlic fries, and a classic Cheeseburger at Alibi.
See our previous Burger Wars entries here:
Burger Wars Round One: The Local vs. Flamme
Burger Wars Round Two: Plan B vs. Grinders Burger Wars
Burger Wars Round Three: Blue Frog vs. Lily's
Burger Wars Round Four: Great Leap vs. Slow Boat
Burger Wars Round Five: Frost vs. Home Plate
Burger Wars Round Six: Q Mex vs. Tim's Texas Bar-B-Q
Photos: William Starkoff
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