Hon Cafe looks like a cleaner-than-average Chinese bakery in the front, but in the back there's a dining room serving inexpensive Hong Kong-style diner food—that is, somewhat Western, somewhat Chinese. On the menu you'll find potentially unfamiliar dishes made with familiar ingredients such as minced beef with egg over spaghetti, baked ketchup pork chop, and corned beef with egg sandwich. When I saw a garlic burger I thought two things: "This can't be good," and, "I have to get it." Perhaps it was due to my lack of expectations that burger was surprisingly delicious. Innards shot, after the jump.
Far from your typical semi-coarsely ground, all-beef patty, this version is made with beef, pork, sugar, soy sauce, garlic, and onions. It was one of the juiciest meat patties I had ever eaten, oozing with porky and beefy goodness. The patty was topped with sautéed chopped onion and garlic to add the the already onion and garlic-filled patty. If the patty weren't tasty enough, the griddled bun blew me away. This is the bun I'd want all burgers to come on: soft, squishy, a bit chewy, and impervious to the effects of dripping meat juices. I should have known the bun would be good considering the restaurant is in a bakery, but I had never though how good a burger would be if it used a Chinese-style baked bun. Dear restaurants serving burgers: source your buns from a Chinese bakery.
For $4.50, the fairly small garlic burger isn't particularly cheap in the world of burgers, but it's not a bad deal. I'll have to get a side of fries next time to see how the burger-and-fries pairing goes. They don't serve milkshakes, but you're in Chinatown—get bubble tea.
70 Mott Street, New York NY 10013 (b/n Canal and Bayard Streets; map) 212-219-1431