Lean, juicy patty, addicting sauce, fluffy bun–why Teddy’s Bigger Burgers is becoming a hit | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Monster Double Burger
RICH Stula and Ted Tsakiris; at right

Size apparently matters at Teddy’s Bigger Burgers.


The “smallest” burger it serves is a big five-ounce patty, or about one-third of a pound. From there the sizes increase incrementally to seven ounces (bigger) and nine ounces (biggest).


Its Monster Double Burger has two patties in a bun that range in a combined size of 10 ounces (big) to 14 ounces (bigger) to a colossal 18 ounces (biggest).


But size is just one of the crowd drawers for the Hawaii-based restaurant, which has just opened its first franchise in the Philippines. There’s also the beef patty.


US Black Angus


Made from corn-fed US Black Angus, the patties are 100-percent ground chuck, with no binders or fillers, says Kirsten Habawel, executive chef and head of the Philippine team that trained in Teddy’s flagship restaurant in Hawaii. “We use a formula of 80-percent lean meat and 20-percent fat. This is ideal for burgers because it does not need extenders but retains its shape. Most of all, it makes for a juicy patty.”


In addition, the meat undergoes a proprietary grind. It’s a special kind of grind in which the meat is sliced first, then passes through a special plate and equipment, making it more

Monster Double Burger

tender. “It’s not just pushed through a hole,” Habawel points out.


Because the burgers are flame-broiled, the grease falls into the flame, giving the patties an outdoor barbecue taste, says Teddy’s cofounder Rich Stula. It’s actually the love for the taste of a backyard burger cookout that prompted Stula and cofounder Ted Tsakiris to open their first burger restaurant in Hawaii in 1998.


“They decided to ‘reinvent the burger joint’ with a menu that focuses on high-quality burgers,” says Habawel.


Teddy’s Bigger Burgers has been awarded multiple times as the best burger in Hawaii. It has 11 locations in Hawaii, as well as branches in Washington, Iowa and Japan.


Its franchise in Greenbelt, Makati City, is the first in Southeast Asia.


Tangy, sweet sauce


Since the burgers are cooked to order, customers can choose their own add-ons, including grilled onions, mushrooms, bacon, jalapeños and cheese, of which there are four choices: cheddar, American, Swiss and pepperjack.


Standard inclusions in every order include fresh, ripe tomatoes; green lettuce, Clausen dill pickles and thinly shaved onions.


CHEF Kirsten Habawel

“Because the onions are sliced very thinly, they release more flavors,” says Stula.


Then there’s also the sauce, of which Stula and Tsakiris are justifiably proud. While the sauce is incorporated in standard orders, customers can also order it on the side. Or order extra tubs of it to take home or to pour on a green salad, which is what customers in the Hawaii stores have been doing, says Stula.


I can understand why. The sauce has an indefinable flavor, not quite Thousand Island dressing, not quite Caesar, in fact not quite anything one has tasted before. Piquant, tangy yet sweet and savory, it’s addicting. I found myself dipping French fries into it while plotting how to order, on my next visit, dozens of small tubs of the sauce to take home, without appearing to be weird or obsessed.


Getting the buns right


Having put much effort into making the perfect patties, Tsakiris and Stula didn’t want to settle for an ordinary bun. All Teddy’s hamburgers are enclosed in a soft, delicate potato bun, with its fluffy texture and vaguely sweet note complementing every meaty bite.


It took the Philippine team several trials to get the buns right, recalls Habawel. Boxes of each batch were sent by air to the US, for the approval of Tsakiris and Stula. The team finally got it right after 30 tries.


Choice is one thing customers will find aplenty in the restaurant. Aside from the variety of burgers available (Western, Hawaiian, Kailua and Cajun), options include chicken tenders, fish and chips, and tiki wings (chicken wings in a sweet, tangy Hawaiian sauce).


The place is also known for its thick milkshakes, made from 90-percent ice cream and 10-percent milk. “We do not aerate the milkshake,” says Habawel.  Moreover, the ice cream (made by a local supplier) contains 15-percent butterfat (the average ice cream has only 10- to 12-percent butterfat), making the shake really rich and thick.


Admittedly, food of such quality doesn’t come cheap. Teddy’s original big burger costs P265, while the biggest is P395. Sides cost anywhere from P60 (fries) to P149 (onion rings).


But Stula and Tsakiris are confident that customers will be more than willing to pay the price for the quality they’ll get.

Tiki Wings–a sweet tangy version of traditional buffalo wings


Teddy’s Philippine franchise is held by the SumoBurger Global Inc., owned by Marvin Agustin, Raymond Magdaluyo and Ricky Laudico, who also operate other restaurants in Metro Manila (Sumo Sam, Akira, John and Yoko, Marciano and Balboa, among others). Teddy’s is their first international franchise.


At the VIP night, just before the restaurant opened to the public, Tsakiris and Stula watched proudly as guests filled the place and enjoyed their burgers while listening to a ukulele band playing Hawaiian songs. “We are so happy with this place,” says Stula. “We’ve never experienced better staff and service than in the Philippines.”


Teddy’s Bigger Burgers is at 3/F Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Makati City.


For more tips, recipes and stories, visit the author’s blog: www.normachikiamco.com and Facebook fan page: www.facebook.com/normachikiamco. Follow on Twitter @NormaChikiamco.