It is located at “the people’s” end of town because it is in the heart of World Square and close to Sydney’s Chinatown.
It is also where a good meal can cost as little as seven dollars.
This precinct is truly a melting pot of xiao long bao, Malaysian roti, kebabs, hamburgers, hotdogs, fried chicken, sushi, ramen, gelato, pizza, Chinese roast duck, Korean bibimbap, pad Thai, Vietnamese pho and more. And of course, we’re not even talking KFC, McDonalds and Hungry Jacks.
So why is one of Australia’s most influential and recognizable chefs of high-end cuisine bringing burgers, hotdogs and milkshakes to the epicenter of tasty cheap food at the southern end of Sydney CBD?
To find out, Mysaucepan and I are at the launch of Neil Perry‘s latest venture courtesy of a kind invitation from The PR Partnership.
It’s a passionate mission guided by a philosophy of good food at honest prices and a commitment to our community.
Burger Project, Sydney
The pledge is to take the gourmet Wagyu burger that sells for $24 at Rockpool Bar & Grill to “the people” of Sydney. So, the Burger Project was born.
According to Perry, creating “the people’s burger” is all about the meat.
And it all begins with 36-month chuck and brisket steak from Cape Grim at the north western tip of Tasmania, reputed to be one of the most pristine and unspoiled locations on earth.
We are greeted with media, food lovers, friends and fellow food bloggers eager to check out Neil Perry’s foray into fast food.
On offer is the classic beef burger and choice of cheese, bacon and even a Korean twist with kim chi. Vegos can opt for Magic Mushrooms ~ grilled confit mushrooms with cheese, onion, pickles, tomato, lettuce and a “secret sauce”.
Crispy hot wing comes with a choice of Sichuan pepper and salt or classic hot sauce.
The batter on this wing packs a good crunch with succulent and piping hot strands of meat inside.
Wrapped with grease-proof paper, the size of a spicy chicken burger is pretty decent.
Under the bun, a slab of free-range grilled chicken is sandwiched by pickled slaw, lettuce, coriander, soy and mayonnaise giving this burger a hint of Asian.
Mysaucepan likes the tangy taste of pickles with juicy chicken.
There is white wine on tap too. Though I appreciate the choice, I wonder if a plastic glass of pulled chardonnay for $9.50 would prove popular with “the people” since that’s the price of another cheese burger with some loose change.
I open my cheeseburger and find a slather of Perry’s “secret sauce”, pickled cucumber, onion, tomato, lettuce and a grass-fed beef patty sandwiched by two slices of cheese.
Though this patty packs good beefy flavours, I wouldn’t mind it charred and caramelized a little more.
Soft and buttery brioche buns elevate burgers to another level and this plain one needs to be more pillowy but being launch day and at $8.90, this is a decent start.
Rockpool Brewing‘s very own unfiltered pilsner is refreshing and I try to momentarily forget about the calorie count on this meal.
Hotdogs look pretty hefty though I’m getting there after my cheeseburger. House made chips are hand-cut and crisp with a choice of salt, salt and vinegar or chipotle chilli.
“I presume the ‘K’ in K-Dog stands for Kardashian?” I ask Mysaucepan.
“If you bother to read the menu, I think kim chi and spicy Korean dressing would give you a clue” she says.
“Is it Kim Chi?? ” I ask surprisingly. “I always thought her name is Kim Kardashian.”
Ignoring my sense of humour, she finally says, “I think Neil Perry is getting into hotdogs and hamburgers for the people because this business is scalable, unlike a high end Rockpool. There are plans for this project to expand throughout Australia and the US.”
“I think you might be right too. I can definitely see Kim Kardashian sinking her pearly white chompers into Neil’s hotdog” I say.
“But why is this sausage sliced lengthwise though?” I ask Mysaucepan.
“Maybe it cooks faster that way?” she offers.
“But wouldn’t the sausage lose its juices onto the grill?” I say. “Perhaps it’s meant to absorb some of Neil’s secret juices instead.”
There seems to be many flavours happening on The Spicy Dog – cheese, pickles, onions, lettuce, mustard and tomato sauce and the pork sausage tastes more like a German Kransky with its tight and springy texture.
I don’t like the bun because I find it nondescript. I’m not suggesting French style soft and buttery brioche let alone nutty sesame at this price but with so much kitchen technology these days, can this bread not be more pillowy?
I am definitely not a fan of the hard and crusty banh mi bun either and to this day, my favourite dogs among so many are A & W’s coney dog and Dan Hong’s Mexican dog. They are simple dogs with a good sausage, a soft bun and some melting cheese.
For me, a good dog is not about texture. When I sink my first bite, I want to taste juicy meat, melting cheese and pillowy bread. Relish and pickles might add flavour but a squiggle of tomato sauce and hot English will do me just fine.
And sorry Neil, crispy fried onions are a good garnish for South East Asian cooking, not on a hotdog.
Vanilla shake with malt can be thicker and flavours a little richer.
Stay tuned and I’ll tell you about my favourite vanilla shake with malt in Sydney.
Neil Perry is having a beer with his family and friends after flipping what I would imagine to be at least a few hundred patties.
“I wanna take a photo with Neil!” Mysaucepan says enthusiastically.
“Thanks for coming guys” he says as I snap a photo. “It’s only going to get better!” he assures us.
Neil, I’ll be back if you get rid of those pesky fried onions on my dog.
So dear readers, which is your favourite burger and hotdog in Sydney?
ChopinandMysaucepan dined courtesy of The PR Partnership and Burger Project. Prices are included for readers information. All views and opinions on this blog post are our own.
Burger Project officially opens to the public Friday, 31 October 2014.
Shop 11.06, World Square
644 George street, Sydney
New South Wales
Opening hours: Daily 11am to 10pm