A little over a year ago, Burger Counter revolutionised the Gulou burger game with flavourful patties that put the little diner on the meat sandwich map. That tender honeymoon was short-lived:after just a few months, Burger Counter’s landlord edged out the owners and took over the business, leading to a dive in quality. The move launched a mini burger diaspora, with one owner setting up shop in nearby music venue Temple Bar, and another– chef Michael Song – bringing back his classics at Katchup on Jiaodaokou Nan Dajie.
Katchup boasts a clean, well-lit look that’s half-IKEA, half diner, with concrete floors, white tile wallsand a wood-panelled bar lined with stools. Behind the bar is a griddle where Song cooks up his signature burgers with an artisanal care that reflects his two decades in the kitchen. The menu is similar to what he wrought at Burger Counter, with a half-dozen burgers (48-68RMB), a reuben sandwich, several salads, soups and starters. We started off with a plate of crisp, delicately breaded calamari served with lime and mayo (25RMB) and some vegetable tempura (25RMB) cooked to perfection in a curry-spiced batter.
After downing a glass of freshly squeezed apple juice (15RMB), we moved on to the burgers. The options range from familiar standards like blue cheese or swiss-and-mushroom to more elaborate affairs like the heart attack-inducing ‘Manhattan’: a sloppy tower of calories topped with cheddar, bacon, beef chilli, onion rings and a fried egg. Crafted from fresh-ground meat, our burgers were so juicy and tender they almost fell apart in our mouths, and came with several hefty, English-style chips with crispy outsides and piping hot insides.
According to Song, Katchup will soon introduce steaks, as well as a seasonal menu that rotates salads and soups. If you’re in the area and looking for a quick burger, or something more upscale, Katchup is on the money.