The Sanlitun burger battle: The Rickshaw fights back

The Rickshaw has joined the Sanlitun burger battle in what is a shining example of how quickly the scene has changed this year. In the past three months, we have witnessed new places such as Blue Frog (RMB75), Union Bar & Grill (RMB86), and Let’s Burger (RMB68) push up burger and fries prices, other newcomers such as Luga’s Villa (RMB35) take the budget route, and longer-term spots such as The Den and The Rickshaw dig in as things suddenly became very competitive.

The Rickshaw, which annoyed some regulars during the Olympics with a 15-percent surcharge that has since been rescinded, is upping its game. It has introduced three burgers and a sandwich, all priced at RMB55 and including thick-cut fries. Nick Ma gave me a taste test of the quartet on Sunday.

The two beef burgers include The Americano, which Ma says is made with local organic meat and served on a poppy seed bun, and the Oz, a “classic Australian burger.” The latter includes a flame-broiled bun, cheddar cheese, and sliced canned beetroot topped with a hamburger patty topped with a pineapple ring cooked together with egg topped with bacon, lettuce and tomato. As the toppings indicate, the portion is substantial.

The Steak Rambo Sambo is a steak sandwich served with rocket lettuce on sour dough bread, while The China Special is chicken breast marinated in spices, and topped with sautéed onions, green peppers, and gong bao chicken sauce. Ma says crushed peanuts are embedded in the chicken before flame-broiling.

So, how do they taste? Here are my rankings:

  1. Oz burger: Besides including the “bacon factor”, the pineapple, egg, tomato et al make for an interesting blend of flavors and textures, though I found the bun too sweet (I suggest keeping the poppy seeds and reducing the sugar).
  2. China Special: The chicken is tender and juicy, and the spices leave a nice tingly aftertaste.
  3. Steak sandwich: Sour dough bread, mmm, though a bit higher meat-to-bun ration would be nice.
  4. Americano burger: For a stripped-down burger such as this, the bun is simply too sweet.

By the way, The Rickshaw has added new wing flavors, though the medium Buffalo style and others will remain. They include apple vinegar, cream cheese and tomato, maple syrup and chili, and Brandy Dijon.

Finally, here are a few pictures courtesy of my K-Touch, which is most excellent as a phone and most frustrating as a camera. Just imagine these burgers look about twice as good as the photos.

The Rickshaw Americano Burger
The Americano Burger
The Oz Burger
The Rickshaw Oz Burger

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