Chef Ben Fernandez, Uptown Alley

Filipino Flavours at Le Burger Week

by Primrose Madayag Knazan
Food Blog on Instagram and Facebook: Pegonaplate

Tapa on a burger? Ube pandesal bun? Sawsawan dip? These are a few of the creative ideas for Winnipeg’s premiere food extravaganza, Le Burger Week. Originating in Montreal in 2011, Le Burger Week is an annual event that and has since expanded across Canada and beyond. Restaurants feature a speciality burger with a portion of sales donated to charity. This year alone, 131 Manitoba restaurants were slinging burgers from September 1 to 7.

Many restaurateurs say that Le Burger Week is their busiest week of the year. Foodies across the city scour the website, planning their route to try as many as possible, often eating four or five burgers in a single day. With so many options, how does a restaurant stand out? The key is to be unique while offering beautiful presentation and intriguing flavour. Here is where Filipino flavours offer a cultural twist.

Last year, Brazen Hall Kitchen and Brewery was the first place Judge’s Choice with their Grand Pinoy Keso burger, created to celebrate Winnipeg’s vibrant Filipino community. The award-winning burger featured a beef patty, adobo cream cheese, chicharon, edam cheese, house-made bacon ketchup, mango aioli, and fresh greens, on a toasted scallion bun, with sawsawan for dipping. This burger was strong in flavour with the sweetness of the ketchup and mango aioli balanced with the crunchy chicharon and the salty-sour sawsawan.

How will Filipino flavours fare this year? Two restaurants in this year’s Le Burger week featured proud pinoy-inspired burgers created by Filipino chefs.

The Ube-by Burger at Moxie’s Polo Park certainly stood out on the Le Burger Week website. A purple ube pandesal bun from by Jimel’s Bakery was filled with a chuck brisket patty and topped with sweet and meaty Longonisa, melty white cheddar, and garlic aioli. Moxie’s then added a layer of atchara from local brand Atsarap, sliced radishes, and fresh greens, topped with crunchy chicharon.

The Filipino chefs on staff created the Ube-by (Ooh Baby) Burger using traditional flavours and keeping in mind the gorgeous purple hue of the ube bun. The burger was a perfect balance of salty and sweet, with a juicy patty and the richness balanced with the tangy atchara.

The Asian Style Beef Tapa Burger at Uptown Alley is a meaty sensation with a beef patty, perfectly tender tapa, crispy sushi rice patty, fried egg, grilled sweet onion, pimento and Havarti cheese, atchara, and tapa sauce on a toasted brioche bun, topped with two lumpia. Basically Tapsilog on top of a cheeseburger!

Chef Ben Fernandez, offers Filipino dishes on the regular Uptown Alley menu. Lumpia is a popular appetizer, and tapsilog, and tocilog are featured as main dishes. Come for the bowling, stay for the Filipino food!

I love to see non-Filipino restaurants embracing Filipino flavours and supporting local Filipino businesses. Le Burger Week allows foodies Filipino and non-Filipino alike to experience the exciting flavours of Filipino cuisine. I expect Winnipeg to continue explore pinoy flavours, whether through burgers or beyond.