Thursday, February 24, 2011

Burger joint of the week: Hunka Pie

NICE MEAT:  Hunka Pies burger patty is substantial and tasty
  • NICE MEAT: Hunka Pie's burger patty is substantial and tasty
You have probably already read the review in the current issue of the Times. I will own up to it. I stand by it all the way.
I will also stand behind the fact that to me, Hunka Pie's nascent burgers have already won me over. They are some of the best burgers in the city, and while I still have to say Capital Bar & Grill's ground sirloin burger is my favorite, Hunka Pie has slid into a firm second.
First off, there's the bun. Pairing up with Boulevard Bread Co. for the bun-age was genius. It's a soft pliant yellow bun and it carries a nice sheen. It's also extraordinarily soft — not what I usually look for in a bun but so welcome here. Burger juice takes a while to soak through to your fingertips.
There's the regular Hunka burger. The patty on that burger is the closest thing I have had anywhere else to approximate how I make burgers at home. That's why I assume there's some Worchestershire sauce, some onion and garlic in there. It's a nicely spiced burger. The meat's a little more well done for what I usually go for, but then again I've never asked for medium rare off that grill. You ask for cheese, you get a heck of a lot of cheese. Chris'll put any of those ordinary toppings on the burger you want.
And there's the Bombay Burger. Chris actually came out to my vehicle to ask me about the chutney. Says it's inspired by the chutney Masala Teahouse + Grill offered up. I can so get behind that. First burger I've ever had that's cured a bit of Indian food craving for me (and I get those a lot). Now, on its own the meat has a nice cumin-turmeric-cardamom flavor, not too strong but definitely not a traditional American-style burger patty. But dip that burger in the slightly minty cilantro-yogurt sauce on the side... and you've left the confines of burger city and headed straight to Kofte Kebab-land. It tastes just like, I kid you not, the kofte kebabs over at Ali Baba's. My favorite kofte kebabs in the city. And it's a smegging BURGER.
There is one other odd thing I didn't think I'd like. I don't care for French fried onions — the sort from a can. To the point I won't touch green bean casserole during the holidays. When I noticed the patty on the Bombay Burger was sitting on a pile of them, I was a little off-put. But I can honestly say I have finally found a way I like them. They added a nice substantial crunch to an already exotic burger.
So I went back yesterday and tried the Asian Turkey Burger and got a completely different experience. Save the bun, of course — that same good Boulevard Bread Co. burger. The meat, though, had a nice soy flavor to it. What really made this burger, though, was this slaw made from chunks of cabbage and carrots. all drizzled in this great peanut sauce. It gave a whole new dimension — between the tangy pickle of the "Thai crunch slaw" and the creamy peanut sauce and a firm meat patty. It was packed tighter than the ground beef patties, but otherwise I could not tell a difference.
So there you go, three burgers at a pie shop. You really should try it out. I'm serious. Hunka Pie is located at 7706 Cantrell Road in Little Rock. Call (501) 612-4754 or check out the website.

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