Sunday, December 29, 2013

Project Burger: Awesome Gourmet Burgers with a Healthy Twist in Kuching

I know I know, I said my previous Japan trip blog entry would be the last one for 2013, but during my trip home to Kuching, I stumbled upon Calvin Kho's Project Burger, and I just have to blog about this!

I have known Calvin (the founder of Project Burger) for many years now, and we do have a lot of common friends. He came from Graphics Design background, having explored to education, being a school teacher for several years. Being adventurous, Calvin had always wanted to try out F&B and finally decided to take the plunge and started this interesting venture. Last Friday evening, together with my Kuching friends we sampled the best burgers in Kuching, my beloved hometown. 

Starting small, the venue was a humble car porch area of Calvin's Kuching home at Heights Avenue. It was a one man show, meaning Calvin is doing everything from taking the orders, preparing the burgers and serving the customers, all by himself. Kuching does have a homely, small town atmosphere hence the venue and dining style worked perfectly well. Considering Project Burger just started about half a year ago, this was a wiser option, and as the crowd expanded over time, Calvin does intend to open a restaurant/eatery. 

Pork Burger with Extra Toppings, Bacon and Poached Egg









So what makes Project Burger so special? Here are 7 reasons. 

1) Fresh Meat Patties, every single day. 
The meat patties were made from high quality ingredients. There are three choices, Chicken, Beef and Pork. Chicken patty was made of 100% chicken breast meat, which has the least fat content and is healthier, with no addition of filler ingredients. The beef patty was made of prime cuts of Australian or New Zealand imported beef. Project Burger is probably one of the very few places in Kuching (and Malaysia) to feature really great Pork burger, made of 100% meat, and all the patty were grounded in-house, and prepared fresh daily. Minimal flavouring and seasoning were added to preserve the natural flavours of the original meat.

2) No Oil Cooking
No vegetable oil or butter was used when grilling the burger patties. It was simply heated and meat was cooked with no oil, requiring Calvin to constantly clean the surface off every single time after one serving was prepared. He simply cleaned and scrapped with water. This was something unusual for Kuching eateries, heck even for Malaysian food in general, where everything was drenched in oil, which was unhealthy because the oil usually were recycled after used for deep frying meat or other food (recycled many times).

3) Freshly Cut Tomatoes and Lettuce
In order to preserve the original texture and color of the vegetables used for the burger toppings, the tomatoes and lettuce were freshly cut during the preparation of the burgers ordered. Calvin mentioned that pre-cut vegetables will somehow change in color and texture over the hours (even chilled) and that would surely appear less fresh, which is a no no for him.

4) First Burger with Poached Eggs
Calvin was proud to claim that he was the first Burger in Malaysia (yes, Malaysia) to feature poached eggs as an add-on to his burgers, and has become an instant hit. His original idea was so popular that it has been copied by so many other larger established burger-chains in the country. Making a proper poached egg is no easy feat, requires certain expertise, and Calvin did it only with hot boiling water, hence the poached egg was surely a healthier alternative to the usual fried egg (though Calvin's own fried egg was done without use of oil). The poached egg on burgers really added something very special to the whole package, as you broke out the still oozing yolk the feeling was just heavenly!

5) Special Made Nutella Ice-Cream
As a desert, we had Nutella Ice-Cream! It was also specially made, with fresh milk as the base which was a lot healthier (in comparison to usual commercial ice-cream that uses hydrogenated oil). Oh it tasted really good too.

6) Continual Improvements
Project Burger is not staying stagnant, in fact it is a project that continually improve based on customer feedback, and many experimentations and research have been put into the effort of creating the better burger. Calvin shared his experience of going through many trials and errors to come up with what he is serving today.

7) The Awesome Calvin
If you know how awesome the guy behind Project Burger, you will know that it is good enough reason for the burgers to be awesome.

Calvin was generous to allow me photograph him in action!

Grilled to perfection

Melted Cheese

Freshly Cut Vegies

Here Comes the Patties


The Perfect Poached Eggs

The Home-Made Mayo!

Looking so amazing!


Capping things off with Charcoal Buns!

Some local folks expected the burgers to turn out like any roadside Ramli burgers, and they were totally surprised by what Project Burger offered, interesting and unique gourmet styled burger with a healthy twist. Yet the price was very reasonable, in fact coming from what I usually get from KL pricing, what Calvin offered (in terms of quality) was actually reasonably cheap. 

Calvin shared some of his customer complains, which referred to his longer preparation time than usual. To be honest I found my burger served within reasonable time frame (20 minutes after order). It does depend on the crowd, and some people have placed a lot of orders at one time and Calvin is only one person running the whole show. One must understand that there is no way he can speed things up (he only has two hands) and the timing of his cooking (meat, eggs, etc) has to be adhered to in order to maintain the standard taste and texture outcome. Kuching people are indeed impatient, and being one myself I do understand how some people can be irked off by the longer waiting time than, say a local noodle shop which only took 5-10 minutes to be served after ordering. The important point is, Project Burger is NOT fast food. It is actually FAR from being fast food, considering how meticulous and careful Calvin made all the preparations and cooking. I personally think that the waiting time was justified with the freshness of ingredients used, how amazing the burgers tasted!

CALVIN KHO the man behind Project Burger



Map to Project Burger

I ordered Pork Burger with extra toppings of bacon and poached egg. 

The burger looked really good, and Calvin spent considerable amount of time and effort in his food presentation. The patty was a lot thicker (meatier) than I expected and was cooked to perfection, with very good texture and just the right amount of tenderness and juiciness. Everything came together very well, the bacon and poached egg added variety of flavor, all that fitted into Charcoal Buns. This simply is the best burger in town.

if you are in Kuching you MUST MUST try Project Burger, if you have not. The following is the map to Project Burger at Avenue Heights. For more information, and if you have any questions, please do direct them to Project Burger's official FB Page directly here (click). 

15 comments :

  1. YUMS, Why didn't you tapau it over to KL? :p

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    1. Why didn't you fly to Kuching to try it there, served FRESH? heh!

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  2. Replies
    1. Jason, failed one. Teach me sifu.

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  3. Robin, those burgers look so tasty, I'd love to try them right now.

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  4. i love the concept! Looks healthy and delicious at the same time... proof that it 'can be' delicious and healthy at the same time!

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  5. Good burger with poached egg! Now, where can I get this in KL? Hhmm....

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  6. While it isn't tempting to me, I'd try one just to taste it. I'm inflexible when it comes to burgers. I won't even try a burger made with turkey to taste like beef. Adding an egg, fried or poached, doesn't appeal, but everyone has different tastes.

    I'm surprised that anyone would cook meat with more oil, so kudos to Calvin Kho for not adding more. Beef has a lot of fat and doesn't require anything extra.

    As Frankie Chng was always finding something good, and now you, I think Kuching must be full of good food, almost like Penang.

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    1. You should try it first before jumping into conclusions! But as you mentioned, everyone has different tastes.

      You were right, we do not need to add too much oil, meat itself contains fat!

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    2. Since I don't live in Kuching, I'm not the target audience anyway, and if I don't give him my business, it won't hurt at all. If I'm ever there...

      I'm typically stubborn about pizza also. Many people like pineapple and barbecue sauce; others like whole wheat crust and exotic vegetables but I don't. :-D

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  7. Man oh man I almost gained weight just by looking at these delicious creations. The nutritionist in me noticed, with considerable satisfaction, that your friend is *not* repeating the modern (but stupid) mantra that "fat is evil"; because it really isn't. But it's good that he is preparing it the natural way, not using hydrogenated oils (the only really evil fats - trans fats!) and not drenching it either. That's wise and much tastier anyway. And the poached egg is perfect!

    Also, I see he uses what appears to be whole wheat buns (the "charcoal" ones, too?). Tell him to focus on whole grains, and prepare the mayo without sugars, and of course the authentic old-fashioned way, from fresh egg yolks and (good) oil only (maybe add some lime or lemon juice, and some vinegar, but that's it). Now that's really healthy. Instead of fries, as an alternative he could serve cassava root chips. And perhaps some coleslaw salad (not sweetened!) made with the fresh mayo. For connoisseurs of low-carb varieties, serve the burger instead of on a bun, wrapped in fresh lettuce kept in lemon water. That's a bit of a Korean twist and very healthy and low-carb. Just some suggestions ;-)

    Now, how to figure out to fax me one of those delicacies? :-)

    Happy New Year to everybody!

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  8. how much? kolo mee is cheaper leh?! haha so would argue the typical Kuching person. Kuching lovely place gotta go again soon!

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