Sydney’s burger scene has evolved far past the beetroot and egg-stuffed milk bar creations of the past. The minimalist beef-and-cheese version at Mary’s, the poutine-inspired ones at Bar Luca and the vegan numbers at Soul Burger have all contributed to Sydney’s burgeoning love of the burg. But for the most part, they’ve changed up what’s between the buns – not the buns themselves.
After just over a year of testing, working alongside multiple chefs with backgrounds in Japanese and Middle Eastern cooking, the team behind Bunbar (which includes former Oporto owner Gary Linz) has developed four distinctively different burger buns.
“Everyone in the burger movement has always focused on the filling, so we wanted to focus on the bun,” co-owner Stephen Grant tells Broadsheet.
The most interesting – and perhaps the only one of its kind – is the falafel bun. “I can’t find it done anywhere else,” says Grant. Traditionally a substitute for meat, at Bunbar a crunchy, fresh falafel bun holds together hummus, pickles, a tahini drizzle, cucumber, tomato, tabouli, red cabbage and lettuce. Next is the grilled rice bun. It was inspired by a trip to the Chase Kojima-founded sushi-burger joint, Gojima, and you can choose to stuff it with a freshly grilled beef patty, tender 20-hour slow-cooked beef brisket, a generous serve of grilled chicken, or southern fried chicken (which will arrive on the menu soon).
Then there’s the lettuce bun, which is made using a very specific part of the lettuce so it doesn't fall apart, and the “Soft AF” bun, which is much like bao but baked rather than steamed. It’s slightly crisp on the outside, yet still soft and fluffy.
Each burger comes with its own “drizzle” sauce, with options including tahini, chimichurri, a Korean-style sauce, and a hot sauce that they reckon fans of Oporto’s original chilli sauce will like. (Wink-wink.) “We picked Manly because it’s got an open-minded and health-conscious attitude,” says Grant. The menu caters for vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and keto diets, and along with its burgers it serves plant-based wraps made with Beyond Beef and seitan (wheat gluten) “chicken”.
On the drinks side of the menu, there’s shakes, including the vegan “Choc-a-damia”, as well as regularly changing cocktails (at the moment there’s Aperol Spritz and Pina Colada), wine and beer on tap and by the bottle.
While Grant manages front of house (he’ll likely be the smiley face taking your order), co-owner Deanna Bechara is in charge of the kitchen. “Everything is very organised back there,” says Grant. “The goal is to be able to prepare the burgers fresh in just six minutes.”
For the moment Bunbar has four bun options, but Grant says they’ll definitely continue experimenting with new styles.
“Maybe a ramen noodle one, or a breakfast one – who knows?”
Shop 1A, 2–8 Darley Road, Manly
0422 815 280
Mon to Sun 12pm–10pm