Lucky for beef-eating San Franciscans, this city has plenty of options for a lacy-edged smash burger. There’s the ever-excellent Wesburger in the Mission, plus a cohort of top-notch pop-ups including Lil’ Eagle Burger; SmishSmash; and relative newcomer Maillards, which slings its sweated shallot-topped patties at the Outer Sunset Farmers Market & Mercantile.
But as of this month, there’s a fresh entrant into the Bay Area smash burger wars — and it’s putting a purple, ube-scented twist on the classic style.
Fans can catch self-described “Filipino-inspired smash burger” pop-up Bundok’s Burgers every Saturday in February at Olfactory Brewing from 5 to 8 p.m. Owner and chef Kevin Villanueva, who previously spent time in the kitchens of fine dining restaurants including In Situ and Jeepney in New York, says he contemplated opening a Filipino restaurant for years. “I think my dream of opening this glorious fine dining Filipino concept like Kasama or Abaca was tempered by the reality of working in a kitchen,” he says. So, instead, he decided to take what he calls “the Señor Sisig approach,” folding Filipino flavors into a dish that’s likely already familiar to American diners. “I thought, burgers are the quintessential American thing,” he says.
All of Bundok’s two-and-a-half ounce patties are a blend of beef and longanisa, the Filipino pork sausage often eaten at breakfast. Villanueva says incorporating pork into a smash burger patty means you’ll get a little more char, though it’s challenging to achieve that highly Instagrammable lace-like edge. His menu currently offers three different burgers. The signature comes topped with a sauce that features banana ketchup and calamansi, while a spicy iteration gets a bird’s eye chile relish and a layer of spicy shoestring fries. Finally, diners can choose a “smokey smash” that comes with what Villanueva calls “lechon sauce,” charred onions, and provolone cheese.
Without access to a deep fryer, he’s limited on side offerings but has been offering shrimp chips, plus “animal-style” shrimp chips to round out the meal. All the burgers also come on a purple-hued ube hamburger bun, which Villanueva says he’s sourcing from a bakery in Daly City. Eventually, he says he’d love to open a permanent restaurant. But for now, he’s aiming to gain some traction as a roving pop-up. “I’m super excited to be doing this,” he says. “Getting this opportunity and embarking on this journey is exciting.”