Shake Shack Hong Kong vs Shake Shack in other countries

The Shake Shack hype was pretty clear from the crazy line on their Saturday pop-up. The line started from the escalators of the ifc, yes, the escalators were part of the line, and continued to the side of the makeshift Madison Square pop-up dining area. 

But was it worth the wait? We compare the iconic SHACK BURGER in all three locations of: Shake Shack Hong Kong (HK), the original Shake Shack in Madison Square (NY) and Shake Shack Seoul (KR). 

The beef
We have to say, Shake Shack has been quite consistent with the quality of their beef regardless of the country they’re serving in. The beef have always been top-notch, 100% hormone free beef, so yes, very deliciously beefy, but the difference between the three branches are seen in the cooking methods.

The NY patties were perfectly cooked, medium rare, slightly pink in the middle with a strong umami crisp on the outside, a result of shaping the patties in a rustic manner, to allow the little pokey corners to go crispy on the grill. Perhaps a signature cooking style that has kept Shake Shack burgers so very moreish. 

The SEOUL version maintained this beautiful pink centre, but the beef patty did not have those umami crispy corners, and for some reason the juices were overwhelming, drenching the bottom bun into a floppy mess. If you need at least three napkins to eat a burger, it’s probably not your fault. 

While the HK version maintained the umami crisp of the patty, they overcooked the beef a little. Perhaps it is to meet the more popular well-done palette of Hong Kong, but I doubt it. It was most likely just a rushed mistake. One must not forget, this was a pop-up with an incredible influx of orders, cooked in a kitchen that is not their own. Nevertheless the beef did not disappoint. Well seasoned and crispy in the outside, the beef was not too greasy, and just perfectly umami-- it certainly did the job for us! 

The buns
The buns were quite consistent. We aren’t kidding about this one. Perhaps we got lucky, or perhaps we didn’t get as lucky, the Martin’s potato rolls they used in Hong Kong’s shack burger was actually better than any we’ve had before. How is that so? Are they importing it straight from the US incredibly carefully? Are they sourcing it with an exact Martin’s Potato Roll recipe from local bakers? We have no idea, but the bun was oh-so-perfectly fluffy with a softness that we can only dream about. 

The fries
Again, pretty consistent throughout all the branches.  The SEOUL one was slightly under seasoned but that was easily solved (just ask for salt). If we had to choose one, of course the New York fries were the best, but to be honest, they are all pretty similar in all three branches. We ate these fries very slowly, between our instagram sessions and between our chatter, and even so, they stayed crispy even when they had gone cold. The HK version only came with ketchup during the pop-up but we expect the iconic cheese sauce will be debuting in Hong Kong soon. 

The prices
Pretty much the same as New York. Which is a refreshing thing to see in Hong Kong where burgers often reach pretty ridiculous prices. The Seoul one is very affordable compared to the quality one might find in other burger joints in Seoul for the same price. Overall, the price stays consistent, which is a thumbs up from us. 

The verdict
Overall, yes, the original branch in Madison Square will always hold a special part of our hearts. But was the Hong Kong version worth the wait? We think so. However that doesn’t mean the burger joints in Hong Kong should worry though. Shake Shack burgers has a different kind of appeal to the award-winning burgers in Hong Kong that boast dry-aged beef patties and truffle aioli. They have an extra flavour of what we’d like to call “Internet Hype Seasoning” and they’re all-American in style (the bright yellow cheese, the crispy edges). They might not meet everyone’s palettes, but they certainly meet ours. 

Update: we just found out their official opening date, its May 1st everyone!

Angie Kwon

Restaurant Details
Shop 4018, ifc mall, Central
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