Friday, October 31, 2014

Bigger is Better

The recent arrival of Teddy’s Bigger Burgers proved that the hamburger is the Philippines’ most popular sandwich, but more than that, it is poised to take eating hamburgers into a whole new experience, boosting the recent trend in gourmet burgers.
            The Hawaii-based burger restaurant offers burgers that are hefty and prepared with quality. Aside from the fat and juicy beef patty, the burger is accented with sauces and other fillings. You are presented with a burger that is beautiful to look at and almost more than palm-size, presenting a problem on how to eat it.
            Ted Tsakiris, co-founder of Teddy’s USA, advised to hold the burger with two hands and gnaw through it. Others would flatten it a little bit to make it manageable to it. But whatever the technique, it does not diminish the deliciousness of the burgers.
            The main thing that makes Teddy’s burgers special is the meat patty. According to Teddy’s Bigger Burgers Philippines executive chef Kirsten Habawel, who headed the Teddy’s Philippines team sent to train in Hawaii, the patty is made from 100-percent, corn-fed U.S. Black Angus ground chuck, shipped regularly from the United States from the same supplier of Teddy’s Hawaii. Also, they don’t use binders or fillers for the patties. Preservatives and artificial flavoring are also not used.
“All patties are hand-pattied daily, with the special seasoning of Ted and Rich, and always charbroiled to order,” Habawel added. 
The shoulder and neck portions of the cow are used for the ground chuck. These are said to be flavorful and has just the right fat content to prevent the beef from drying out when cooked on high temperature.
“We use a formula of 80 percent lean meat and 20 percent fat. This is ideal for burgers because it does not need extenders but retains its shape. Most of all, it makes for a juicy patty,” revealed Habawel.
The patty is charbroiled, thus extra fat drips down instead of the patty swimming in grease. Additionally, Teddy’s make their burgers bigger than most of what is offered around the metro.
“Size definitely matters at Teddy’s,” Habawel noted. “Our burgers are bigger than the average burger. We start at five ounces (Big)— that’s already a one-third pounder—and go on to seven ounces (Bigger) and nine ounces (Biggest) for our Original single patties, and our Monster Doubles (double patty sandwiches) go up to 10 , 14 and 18 ounces.”
            Their patty alone is what makes them outstanding, luring customers to return for more, Tsakiris believes. “If you have a good quality patty, you don’t really need expensive extras like foie gras or truffle oil on your burger,” he said.
            The extras, of course, make the burger interesting. All sandwiches has lettuce, tomato slices, pickles and onions. Customers can choose to add more fillings, and the restaurant offers bacon, blue cheese, jalapeños, onion rings and pastrami, among others. They can also customize their burgers such as adjusting the seasoning or removing it all together, and doing away with the buns.
            Additionally, Teddy’s use a variety of sauces. It has its own signature sauce, used Teddy’s Original Burgers, simply called Special Sauce, whose recipe is kept secret.
            “It’s not your usual Thousand Island dressing. The sauce is yellow, but it doesn’t have any mustard. It is actually an aioli that goes perfectly with our burgers,” Habawel explained.
            Teddy’s also uses a special kind of bread as its buns. The potato buns are yellow and soft with a hint of sweetness. Habawel said that this is sourced locally since bread has a short shelf life, but they had a hard time replicating the bread. “It took us 30 trials. I had to keep sending the buns to them in the US until they approved it,” she related.
            Always cooked medium, Teddy’s burgers come in different varieties. The Originals are the cheeseburger, which has a choice of cheddar, American, Swiss and Pepperjack cheeses; the Teri Burger, which has a sweet teriyaki sauce; and the Monster Double Burger with two patties. The specialty burgers are Cajun Burger with Cajun seasoning and Pepperjack cheese; Volcano Burger with Kilauea Fire sauce, Pepperjack cheese and jalapeno; the Blue Cheese Bacon Burger; the Hawaiian Style, which has grilled pineapple and teriyaki sauce; the Western Burger with barbecue sauce, cheddar cheese, bacon and onion rings; Bacado Burger with avocado, cheddar cheese and bacon; and Kailua Burger with teriyaki sauce, grilled mushrooms, grilled onions and Swiss cheese.
            The price ranges from P265 for the Big Original to P660 for the Biggest Monster Double, which is 18 ounces. Just add P50 if you want to make it Cajun or P170 Western. 
            Aside from burgers, Teddy’s also serves sides such as French fries, which comes with cheese or garlic butter sauces, and beer-battered onion rings. For drinks, one must try the milkshakes, which are deliciously rich. They come in chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, peanut butter, root beer, and pineapple flavors. You can combine them actually. You can request form strawberry and peanut butter, for example.
 “Our shakes are 90 percent ice cream and 10 percent milk. Unlike other shakes that are watered down with ice, our shakes have a very rich taste,” Habawel said.
            Because of all these, Teddy’s Bigger Burger is very well-known in Hawaii. The restaurant traces its roots in the backyard cookouts of Ted Tsakiris and Rich Stula, who are both burger lovers.
            “They couldn’t understand why there were no burger restaurants that offered the same quality burger they cooked in their backyards, so they decided to open a burger restaurant to share it with other burger lover,” narrated Habawel. “They decided to ‘reinvent the burger joint’ with a menu that focuses on high quality burgers, where every single patty is treated like the very first patty they’ve ever cooked.”
            The first store opened in 1998. Currently, Teddy’s Bigger Burgers has stores in 11 locations in Hawaii. Recently, they expanded to the United States mainland, particularly in Washington, Iowa, California and Texas. Its first international branch is in Japan. The Philippine store opened last Aug. 23 at Greenbelt 3 in Makati City. The store can accommodate about 80 diners, located near bars and other restaurants.
Teddy’s Bigger Burgers was brought in by the SumoBurger Global Inc., owned by actor Marvin Agustin, Raymund Magdaluyo and Ricky Laudico, and which operates a number of restaurants including Sumo Sam and Akira, all original. This is its first international franchise.
            The discovery of Teddy’s Bigger Burgers can be described as accidental. About three years, ago, Magdaluyo was in Oahu, Hawaii, biking with his wife when there was a sudden downpour. They took shelter at Teddy’s Kailua branch, tried its burgers and fell in love with it. Shortly after that, Magdaluyo brought Agustin and Laudico to a branch in Tokyo, where they met with founders to invite the franchise over to the Philippines.
            Magdaluyo said the coming of Teddy’s provided a break from the flourishing of Japanese-inspired restaurants in Metro Manila. For the Philippine market, Teddy’s Bigger Burgers created a few new items—the Tiki Wings (chicken wings), Chicken Tenders and the Loco Moco.
“The Loco Moco, a famous drive-in food in Hawaii, is basically a burger patty served top of rice with gravy and fried egg,” explained Habawel.
            Also, the Philippine store serves alcoholic drinks.
            “Hawaii doesn’t have alcoholic drinks on their menu, but since we’re opening in malls with restaurants that offer alcoholic beverages, we’ll be offering both imported and local beers as well as some cocktails that were crafted specifically for Teddy’s,” added Habawel.
            SumoBurger Global is planning to open several more stores, about eight in the next four years, including the ones under construction at the Shangri-La Plaza Mall in Mandaluyong City and Eastwood Mall in Quezon City.
            Tsakiris feels optimistic about this development.
“Teddy’s is built from the burger, borne out of a passion for burgers. With gourmet burger restaurants on the rise across the metro, and Filipino foodies clamoring for burgers that go beyond fastfood, we’re looking forward to giving the Filipinos a taste of Teddy’s and what makes it a cut above the rest,’’ he said.
            He expressed that he shares the Filipinos’ predilection for burgers: “Filipinos usually equate burgers with happiness. Eating a burger is a religious experience for me. And nine times out of 10 when I’m eating a burger, I just start shaking my head, my eyes closed, and say 'Wow! This is amazing!”

For more information about Teddy’s Bigger Burgers Philippines, visit the official Facebook page (


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