Sometimes it seems that we’re heading back to The Village in Abu Hassaniah every week here at bazaar. But when there’s this many great eateries popping up at this cool, laid-back location, with a touch of European flair, what are we supposed to do?
Every time I’ve been down there lately though, I’ve been teased with the promise of ‘Smashburger coming soon’ on the hoardings. Well, the wait is over and we finally got to check out this latest addition to the better burger movement that is spreading across Kuwait. We’re fast realizing here that burgers don’t have to be soggy, lukewarm affairs thrown together by people with no passion for their food. The simple burger can reach great heights when prepared well (as an intense debate in the bazaar office over the secrets of a great burger this month illustrated) and that’s what the newly opened Smashburger is doing.
Smashburger was founded in 2007 in Denver, USA and if you’re wondering about the name, it comes from the way in which the burgers are prepared. The technique is nothing new and has been implemented in diners and ‘mom and pop’ places across America for decades, but this great way to cook burgers got lost somewhere along the way. With the ubiquity of fast food chains, we have become accustomed to pre-formed patties that are usually cooked from frozen. Smashburger take a freshly-ground 100% certified halal Angus beef meatball, and literally smash it down onto a buttered griddle to form the burger with a two-handed press and hold it down to start searing the beef. What this delivers is a patty that is full of flavor from the quality of the beef and a crunchy exterior from the searing that adds an extra level of texture to the burger. I opted for the All American served with American cheese, onion, pickles, and ketchup and mustard. The bun that holds this all together is an egg-glazed one that adds a unique twist to the hamburger bun. The burgers come as Smash or Big Smash, and this relates to the weight of the beef being smashed. The burger is no thicker on the Big Smash but is simply wider because of the technique.
This is Smashburger’s first location outside of the US and was opened by Kayan Restaurants here in Kuwait. They also hold the franchise for the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain and Smashburger wanted them to start with Dubai as they, like most people, believe it be the centre of the Gulf. Yousef Alessa and Khalid Hajjar of Kayan Restaurants insisted that Kuwait was a better market to launch from – they figured if they could succeed in Kuwait’s competitive burger market then they can make it anywhere. And judging by the crowds that accompanied bazaar’s visit it seems they were right. They did take heed from the founder of Smashburger, Tom Ryan, though when sourcing beef. Khalid told me they must have tried over fifty different types of halal beef before Tom was satisfied. Not only that, he could also detect the age of the cow at slaughter from tasting the meat. Tom Ryan is clearly a man who knows his beef!
What sets Smashburger apart from other burger places is the level of customizability they offer. While they offer options such as Mushroom Swiss, Spicy Baja and BBQ Bacon & Cheddar, you can also create your own burger exactly as you like it. Decide on the size, pick an artisanal bun, add your favorite toppings and sauces and finally your cheese of choice. They offer the exact same set up with chicken breast instead of the burger. They also offer a Veggie Burger and a few different salads.
You could also visit Smashburger for the sides alone. The offer five different fries; Smashfries are tossed with rosemary, olive oil and garlic and Kuwait Fries are seasoned with hawaij spices and cilantro. You can also try Fried Pickles, Fried Jalapenos or Veggie Frites, which are flash-fried carrot sticks and green beans. The shakes at Smashburger are all hand-spun with Häagen-Dazs ice cream and they also have an Ice Tea bar along with the usual sodas.
The inclusion of Kuwait Fries is something that Smashburger do all over. They always craft their menu to reflect the tastes of the local market. So on the menu here you can also find the Kuwait Burger and Kuwait Chicken which are served with hot pepper cheese, hawaij grilled jalapenos, labneh, baby spinach, tomato and cucumber and served on a spicy chipotle bun. This makes each Smashburger outlet a unique dining location.
So get down to The Village and see what smashing quality beef can do for a better burger.
Smashburger has many locations: The Village in Abu Hassaniah (5029 8884); Mishref Coop (2537 8596); Mahboula (2390 1591); and Salmiya on Salem Al Mubarak Street (5083 3743). For Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: SmashburgerQ8.