Phnom Penh’s hamburger lovers can expect a few more inches along their waistlines as a new Singaporean chain takes the capital’s burger scene to a new level of greasy sophistication
Armed with a ridiculously diverse burger menu in a sleek restaurant that is half Grease, half Pulp Fiction, Mam Chan Ratanak – the general manager of Fat Boys: The Burger Bar – is something of a burger evangelist.
“People here only think of burgers as fast food, they never think that you could order a burger in a restaurant where you could sit down and get service,” said Ratanak, adding that he had spent years eating at Lucky Burger before discovering there was a whole world of gourmet hamburgers.
Originating in Singapore, with franchises already in Malaysia and China, Fat Boy’s schtick is like a millennial’s take on 1950s Americana.
While the decor is relatively minimalist compared to the flash of the era, diners are treated to a selection of doo-wop and rock ’n’ roll hits including Little Richard’s Tutti Frutti, Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock and Chuck Berry’s Go Johnny Go.
Despite the ’50s throwbacks, Fat Boy’s menu is full of burgers named with a youthfully flippant modern touch: the YOLO (You only live once)($10), Pizza the Hutt ($6.50), Jamaican Me Hungry ($6.50), Swiss Shroom ($6).
Several reference the films of director Quentin Tarantino films, such as the Fat Basterd ($12) and the Royale with Cheese ($6.50).
The customisable menu also offers the opportunity to construct a completely original burger recipe from scratch.
With 14 sauces and 20 other add-ons, the options are seemingly limitless, although some border on gastronomical absurdity.
Fancy a lamb burger served with onion marmalade, wasabi mayo and Nutella? They can do that.
How about grilled chicken served with bacon, a fried egg, cheddar cheese, grilled pineapple and peanut butter? Consider it done.
A taste test this week showed the Australian beef patties were firm and juicy and buns fresh, with the quality of ancillary ingredients such as the cheese and onions on par with what you’d expect from a well-renowned Singaporean chain.
The service, though still in their early training after June 15’s soft launch, were friendly and attentive.
For drinks, milkshakes ($6.50) dominate the menu, with toppings including crushed Oreo cookies, banana, marshmallows, Bailey’s, and others.
The appetiser menu is also massive, including healthy portions of beer-battered calamari ($5), parmesan truffle fries ($4), and old-fashioned salsa and chips ($3.50).
If you’re dragging a non-burgerphile with you, they can make do with any of the 14 other main courses, including country fried steak ($7.50), grilled salmon fillet ($8.50) or bangers and mash ($7.50).
Ratanak said he got the idea to open the Phnom Penh location after visiting Fat Boy’s original location in Singapore.
Impressed with the opulent burgers served in a stylish setting, Ratanak decided to approach the brand’s owners and successfully pitched his plan for a Cambodian outlet – despite the existence of another much-loved fast-food joint with a confusingly similar name, Fatboy Sub and Sandwich.
The menu is a clone of the one created in Singapore, with no modifications for the Cambodian market.
While he is confident the restaurant will succeed, he is unsure of who exactly his customers will be.
“We’re trying to figure out which market we get, whether Cambodians or foreigners will come more,” he said.
But he said the rise of the Cambodian middle class and increased exposure to foreign cuisines meant the time was right to take the capital’s burger scene to the next level.
“I think it is the right thing to bring these things to Cambodia, as many burger brands are coming already,” he said.
“Middle-aged people might not like the taste, but kids of 5 or 6 years old like them already.”
Fat Boys: The Burger Bar is located at #16 Street 57. Web: fatboys.sg.