You are looking at the largest Cheeseburger that I have ever eaten in my entire life. A cheeseburger so ridiculously huge, finishing one in a single sitting could very hazardous to my health, and that's why it is aptly named, "The Tombstone".
But you know me.. ever the daredevil.. You can't get me to eat a Cesar salad or anything with brown rice, but a towering, more-calories-than-a-buffet, greasy burger is something that shall never, EVER be denied.
Ladies and gentlemen, Welcome to Zark's Burgers.
It wasn't supposed to be like this. This wasn't the plan. My intention was to take Rina out on a romantic dinner cruise by the bay, as we closed out the ending of a blessed year in style. The only problem is, two things went wrong along the way.
The first being, the crowd over at "Prestige Cruises" wasn't exactly what we had envisioned when going on a "cruise" (even one that just takes you around the bay), and I'm just going to leave it at that.
The second reason was, the boat ran into some problems after docking, and the crew refused to let her go back out to sea. If you wanted to avail of the dinner on the boat, you still could, however, you won't be leaving the dock.
Now, Rina has seen "Titanic" too many times (OK Fine! I have too! But only because their love was so pure!) for her to get broken up over not being able to go on a cruise around the bay, and in some way, we were both looking for a way out of going to on the cruise without hurting each other's feelings. When I found out that we could get a full refund of what I paid for, I told her, "Let's get the hell out of here".
I could tell she was somewhat relieved on not having to go on the boat anymore, and she immediately said, "Let's go anywhere.. It doesn't have to be fancy". Given the fact that we were in the Baywalk area, not too far from Taft avenue, a light bulb went on in my head.
This was like a homecoming of sorts for me, because I spent.. well, quite admitedly, a little more time than I should have at the College of St. Benilde. The crappy part about this was, all these kick ass places weren't there when I was a student. Oh well, I'm just glad to be away from school
We got to Zark's around 8:30pm, and there were four tables occupied. Which was pretty impressive considering it was a holiday, and school was out for Christmas break. The interiors were rather drab and outdated, as you would imagine a small burger chain that intends to keep their prices reasonable to students would be.
With the cheerful demeanor of their staff, you would think that they were a member of the La Salle Pep squad. Technically they didn't have to honor my CashCashPinoy voucher because I failed to make reservations ahead, but since the place had available seating, they made an exception, with the simple reminder to book in advance next time, to avoid future inconveniences.
Apparently, the place gets really packed during lunch and dinner hours, Especially when school is in session. So it seems we really lucked out.
You know what's even scarier? The menu is something I could see myself conceptualizing if I had my own burger joint, and it's something I definitely would try, no matter how decadent the burgers may be! Hell, even the shirts for sale are coincidentally, a collection of my life mottoes!
Their roster of burgers were divided into two categories, "Minor League" and "Major League". The Minor League had your usual burgers that were dressed up with various toppings. Perhaps the most interesting one for me was the Floyd Chicken Burger, which is a burger topped with FRIED CHICKEN SKIN, with cheese sauce or BBQ Rhum sauce on the side.
In the Major League section, there's no way I could pick just one. I wanted to try them all. From their Deep Fried Burger to their Candy Bacon Burger, Rina swore Zark's could be my brotha from anotha motha!
Rina took a look at their menu and wanted to order a simple Bacon Cheeseburger, but I would have none of it. If you wanted a bacon cheeseburger, we should've gone to Wendy's. We're at Zarks Burger, For gosh sake.
I took the menu from her and said, "Fear not, I shall order for you, young grasshoppa.." Which is ironic because it was my ordering for her that actually instilled fear into her. I took a look up at the wall and knew what I had to order for her
Ok, first I want to talk about what I'm assuming is the two common denominator with all of Zark's burger- the beef patties and the buns. If you're expecting molded, perfectly shaped US-Grade Beef Patties, you will be sorely disappointed. Zark's makes no attempt to go head on with all the other burger joints out there that claim their beef was made from the best cows in the universe. Though the patties may be a bit peppery, it's got good flavor, but it breaks apart easily. Don't get me wrong, they are still good beef patties, but I would definitely not place their beef patties among the best I've had.
Also, I'm not a big fan of their Hamburger buns. It's the type I'm not too fond of where the top bun is smooth - however, this version was admitedly soft and not dry like other types I've tried that had the same texture.
But trust me, you won't think about any of those things once the burger is placed in front of you.
All you will see is awesomness on a plate.
Case in point.
I took Rina's need for bacon into consideration and took it a step further, by ordering her the Jawbreaker (P250) one of Zark's most popular burgers. The Jawbreaker is a triple cheeseburger topped off with Bacon & Spam. If you can finish this battle ship of a burger within five minutes, you get it free. Which is good because that extra P250 will come in handy when paying for your hospital bill later that night.
The burger was so huge, Rina stared at it for around 30 seconds before finally looking up at me and saying, "I don't know how to eat this. Where do I start??".
I handed Rina a fork and a knife, and after her first bite, she kept bobbing her head up and down in obvious approval. The smokiness of the bacon and the light tangyness of the spam went well with the grilled flavor of the beef. And being the cheese lover that she is, the cheese sauce passed her standards of quality and quantity, with flying colors.
However, there was no way she was going to finish that in five minutes.
I set up my own showdown with the biggest, baddest burger that Zark's had to offer, and I won't lie to you, when they brought that first burger out, I was a little bit intimidated. It looked like it would be a tough challenge, but nothing I couldn't handle. And then I found out that it was actually Rina's order, not mine.
And then they brought out the Tombstone.
The first thing that came popped into my head after gazing at the Tombstone (P500) was.. "ARE YOU FRICKIN' KIDDING ME!?". Never in my life have I seen a burger so huge.. so unadorned yet so beautiful.. It almost made me sad to know that I was going to eat it. Then all I had to do was take whiff of the beautiful aroma it was emanating to change my mind and say to myself that this burger deserves to die a violent death in my mouth.
The Tombstone Challenge was to finish this behemoth in ten minutes and win a T-shirt. This was one challenge that I had to back away from. Hell, I was hesitant to do it when I thought the Tombstone was the Jawbreaker, and the Tombstone turned out to be twice the size!
The Tombstone is something straight out of Man V. Food, and could very well give Adam Richman a run for his money. The four burger patties were so thick, when weighed all together, totals a whopping two pounds. Each patty had a slice of melted cheese placed on top of it, and then it was drowned in a thick cheese sauce before place the top bun on it.
When you look closely at it, you could see the juices flowing out of the patties, and the cheese sauce bubbling as it slides down into your plate.
Oh, before I forget.. their fries, a variation of thick cut fries that were cooked to a crisp, were delicious, and the perfect companion to your burgers!
We deliberately chose not to finish our burgers to make even just the smallest room in our stomachs for Dessert. We didn't want anything too heavy, so we opted for a Krispy Kreme Ala Mode Sandwich (P95), which pretty much tasted like.. well... Krispy Kreme with Ice Cream in it. We probably would have enjoyed it more if we didn't just have THIS just the day before.
And so concluded the latest episode of my Burger Wars. In terms of ingredients, Zark's Burger's may not be as sophisticated as its competition, but that's exactly what makes them so awesome.
I admire them because they cut through any pretentious bullcrap and just serve up what people want.. the most absurd burgers ever seen in the Philippines.
Zark's Burgers, I have an eerie feeling you'll be seeing me again very soon.. *wink wink*..
Zark's Burgers Location:
Archer's nook, Malate (In front of LA Salle Taft, same building as Yellow Cab)
BF homes branch:
President's Ave, in front of Shawarma Snack Center