Do you have fond memories of the Malate night life in the ‘80s? Well, unfortunately, I don’t. My memories of Malate were the street party along Nakpil in the 2000’s, O Bar (don’t ask me why), and Oarhouse Pub of Manila. Even the late Anthony Bourdain was curious enough to visit the Pub himself to shoot an episode of Parts Unknown.
I don’t even remember the first time I came to The Oarhouse—it was two decades ago with one of my closest friends, Regina Abuyuan. Sadly, Gina passed away two years ago, but she is still very much with me in thought and spirit. She’s one of the reasons I continue coming back to The Oarhouse to this day. It was and still is the community we practically “grew up” in. We would just talk and laugh and drink ice-cold beer until closing time in the wee hours.
The place is known as hang-out of a diverse mix of people—at the time, mostly photo journalists who had real stories to tell. (Unfortunately, most photo journs I know have retired their cameras, as they are replaced by so-called “content creators.” But that’s another story.)
Fast forward to the pandemic, the first pub I went to as soon as the lockdown was lifted was The Oarhouse because its burgers are simply the best! And I’ve had many. I went on a quest for best burgers years ago when I didn’t have to worry about calories and cholesterol. I went to the mainstream ones (Shake Shack, Five Guys, Smash) and a few niche, but very good ones (DuMont, Brennan and Carr).
The Oarhouse burger had everything that I was looking for, combined in one! It had the secret sauce of In N Out, the rich, beefy taste of Five Guys, the “smashed” burger of Smash, the juiciness of DuMont, served with fresh-cut fries like no other. If I could have it every week, I would.
I promised Oarhouse Pub owner Ben Razon I would make him brioche buns the next time I visit. When he mentioned that he is experimenting on 1/3 pound grilled burgers, made from fresh-ground, choice cut beef (not frozen!), I just had to be there for it. We might as well go all-out premium and use homemade brioche buns.
Ben showed me how these burgers were made. There’s really no secret here, he just uses locally-sourced whole Batangas beef sirloin and brisket cuts, and grinds them fresh daily. The secret (same with writing) is KISS. Keep it simple, stupid. It’s all about the quality, freshness, and consistency.
As for the brioche buns, I’ve shared with you how I make brioche loaves. It’s the same recipe, shaped into buns.
And OH MY GOD. It was the best, and – borrowing from my nephew’s words – most epic burger! What do you think? Should we make it a weekend special?
@thekitchendiaristTRULY THE BEST BURGER!!!! At Oarhouse Pub of Manila.Anthony Bourdain would probably agree. LIMITED.I made the brioche buns 😋 #burger #fyp #foodtiktok♬ GAME DUDE DAYS – Scott Horton