In search of Muscat’s finest burger, Matt Blackwell finds himself at the aptly titled Best Burger
Okay, let’s start with a disclaimer. Ninety-nine per cent of the time I am what you would call a “healthy eater”. My standard response when someone offers me sweets or chocolate is “thank you, but my body is a temple”. I run occasionally and even go to the gym. I’m the real deal: your everyday, run-of-the-mill health and fitness enthusiast – 99 per cent of the time.
That said, there are times when, for some unknown reason, I just crave a burger. And after waking up with a ravenous hunger one day last weekend, I found myself with such a craving.
Planning how to satisfy this hankering led me to the appropriately titled Best Burger in Zakher Mall, Al Khuwair. Where better to get your burger fix, I thought. After all, the clue’s in the title.
I’d never been to Zakher Mall before and I must admit that my first impressions weren’t great. From the outside, the mall’s branding looks tired and dated, but nevertheless, I spotted Best Burger on the right hand side and ventured inside.
The interior was a little dark and dingy, with the choice of both wooden tables and chairs or comfier seats with low-lying tables.
Despite the name, Best Burger actually offers a little bit of everything. It serves a variety of breakfast items, regular sandwiches, pasta, fish and chips and a host of other options, but it was the burgers I was there to judge.
After making my choice, I found myself in a state of dining limbo. Menus are placed on each table, as opposed to above the till as they are in your more traditional fast food outlets, and while the employees had seen me enter and sit down, they were making no move to take my order. Was it table service or not? I had a similar problem when I ate at Nandos for the first time a few years back. In my opinion, such establishments occupy a grey area, one step above regular fast food, but below a full-blown restaurant.
Once this small problem had been solved, first up was a portion of cheese chili fries. This option came from the starters section of the menu, but could’ve – and perhaps should’ve – been listed as a side order.
The sizeable helping of fries had been cooked with their skins on – a favourite method of mine – and were smothered in New Zealand beef chili con carne, a liberal amount of grated cheese, jalapeños and dollops of Best Burger’s secret sauce. Everything tasted fresh and was well cooked, with the secret sauce offering tangy injections of sweetness every now and again. All in all, it was a pleasingly sloppy mess, just as I had hoped, and a great way to set the stage for the main event of the meal, the zinger burger.
At most burger and fast-food joints I find that the food rarely resembles its corresponding picture on the menu and I’m often a little disappointed when I had one thing in mind and am then presented with something entirely different. However, in Best Burger’s case, I was actually glad that the menu had lied to me, as the pictures next to each burger didn’t exactly inspire me with hope.
Between the two halves of a lightly toasted bun sat a slightly misshapen beef patty, lettuce, tomato, onions, a square of cheese and a generous amount of jalapeños, once again all drizzled with that secret sauce. I always take quirky-sized burgers as a good sign, as they show that they have not merely been mass-produced into perfect circles.
Let’s get one thing clear: you can’t be afraid to get your hands dirty when eating at Best Burger. The burger itself had a strong meaty taste, with a slight pinkish hue in the centre, which is again how I like my burgers cooked, but for those who like their food well done, you should perhaps exercise caution and specify when ordering.
There was a notable tang of mustard and that familiar sweet zingyness of the “secret” sauce, while the jalapeños left a pleasing tingle on the tongue, aided by a few splashes of hot sauce that I had added myself.
The service wasn’t fantastic (I had to ask for my receipt twice), but the food was well above what I was expecting and by the time I was finished, my craving had been well and truly satisfied.
I think “best” is a slight exaggeration, but this burger joint is certainly up there, perhaps in the top five, and offers a worthy alternative to the huge chains that traditionally dominate the fast food market.
Its Facebook page says “Nothing fancy… just fresh”, and I would have to say that I agree with this evaluation.
Good for getting your burger fix, but the service needs work
Opening times: Sat-Wed: 10am-11pm, Thurs: 10am-12am, Fri: 4pm-12am
Tel: +968 2447 5068
Dinner and drink for one: RO4.1