Some of the best burgers in the city
While I could eat bun bo hue or banh cuon all the time, there are times in Saigon that I miss the occasional meal from my Western world. For example, being that my port of origin is in the United States I think that somewhere deep down in my soul I was bred to enjoy a good hamburger. HCMC isn’t really a city anyone would rank super high on the list of cities to find a great burger in list; so imagine my surprise when a visit to a restaurant in downtown Saigon led me to one of the greatest burger creations I have ever experienced in my life.
Black Cat is an unassuming restaurant tucked in on Phan Van Dat in District 1. It is a simple and small spot; the downstairs area is cramped as a bar takes up a big chunk of real estate, and a tight staircase leads you to a more comfortable dining area upstairs that’s still relatively confined.
But while the restaurant itself is small, the menu is big and consists of Western, Asian and Mexican dishes. Although Black Cat doesn’t have the flash and style of other restaurants, in 2006 CNN named it one of the “Top 10 Places in the World You Must Eat.” It was a while ago, but the reasoning still stands. Why did they win a place on the list? Their crowning achievement in the burger universe: the Big Cheese.
The Big Cheese starts out with a 500 gram patty of beef, which is then garnished with the usual fixings: four slices of cheese, six pieces of bacon, three tomatoes, an onion, a head of lettuce, and a pickle. All of this is placed on a large toasted sesame seed bun. The total weight of this monstrosity rings in at 1.5 kilogrammes.
Eating the Big Cheese is an undertaking that I knew I couldn’t perform alone so I brought a few friends to split it with. Splitting the burger into quarters basically turned it into four regular, but extremely tall, burgers. The overall height makes the burger tough to eat normally, so if you have a small mouth you might have to get creative. Just the quarter that I ate filled me up — the thought of tackling the whole thing solo made me sweat but I’ve heard rumours of successful attempts being made.
The Big Cheese will set you back 333,000 VND plus a few days on your diet. Fries cost an additional 20,000 VND but if you’re sharing I’d suggest getting another order. The restaurant is normally crowded, but they offer free delivery to most parts of the city, so you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own guesthouse to experience the majesty of this burger.
By Angela Schonberg
Last updated on 14th July, 2014.