Hidden culinary gems rarely stay hidden, especially in Colombo. Starting off with hardcore cult followings, those much loved nooks you seek out after a heavy night turn into shiny large scale eating establishments all too quickly (see Sugar, Pillawoos, Sandwich Factory). While we’re not lamenting the general hike in hygiene that comes with the gentrification of the hole in the wall, it’s often also accompanied by a little drop in the special oomph factor that drew you there in the first place.
Has this been the case with Slave Island’s reigning monarch? Once a little cart serving some of the island’s best burgers, Burger’s King is now a pretty legit establishment. Complete with address, printed menu and website – yes, website – the island insider’s secret now stands brightly amidst the alley ways, quite literally overflowing with customers at night.
The name – either a gentle pun or copycat mistake – says it all. This thriving eatery sells pretty much just burgers – about fifteen varieties. They aren’t elaborate with toppings like at Sugar or Sandwich Factory, but each burger packs a good punch, bursting with flavour and juices. And after chowing down four of the King’s finest, we’ve decided they’re still pretty good – but perhaps lacking a touch of the early day greatness. The Charley (Rs. 250) and the Cordon Bleu (Rs. 250) in particular. Do not, as I did, veer from the hallowed duo (the beef burger was disappointing). These contain succulent, crispy chicken breasts sandwiched between soft bread, completely slathered with mayonnaise.
Sitting in the heart of Slave Island, however, Burger’s King is not picturesquely located, nor is it the best venue for a lingering meal. Treat as a drive through, or eat your burgers in the car. As their website rightly notes the “”waste paper flying in the wind and odors wafting”” isn’t for everyone. But the burgers are. With burger favourites like Sugar and Sandwich Factory we feel, perhaps a bit too sentimentally, that they were just a bit better back in their stall days. Burger’s King, too, perhaps a bit. But it’s still good and always worth a visit.