New restaurant: Papa's Burgers



I will never tire of burgers. I guess burger entrepreneurs are banking on people like me; every year, a new burger joint opens up. Last year, my favorites were both on Big Island (I suspect easier access to fresh beef and a discerning audience of ranchers comes into play): Village Burger by Edwin Goto, former executive chef of Maunalani Bay Hotel, and Ultimate Burger. In addition to its fixed Big Island spot, Ultimate Burger used to flip patties at Honolulu farmers' market and Eat the Street, but it recently ceased its roving.

Enter Papa's Burgers, in Market City shopping center, taking over short-lived Tropic Rush's space. The server says the couple knew they wanted the space to serve food. They just didn't know what kind of food. So they hired a consultant, who came up with burgers. I'm not keen on this top-down approach, which seems to extend to its menu; it focuses on gussied up burgers like a Bibimbop Burger with ko chu jang, fried egg, pickled radish and shredded lettuce and a Thai-style burger with a pork and shrimp patty, a spicy lemongrass sauce, carrots and sprouts. More thought has been put into the toppings than the basics—most importantly, the meat: the beef patty was mushy, perhaps from being overworked. If you can overlook that, the Bibimbop is pretty good in terms of burger char and flavor combinations. The pork and shrimp patty fares better and the toasted Kaiser roll on both burgers offers a good meat-to-bread ratio. The sides are excellent: fries cut from whole potatoes and sprinkled with parsley, and a generous, thick milkshake. Our flavor—Winter Mint—is bracingly minty and our mouths (and stomachs) still tingly long after we've finished the burger.

2919 Kapiolani Blvd., 732-5100

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