We had the delightful (and delicious) fortune to attend the exclusive pop-up of Singapore’s newest burger brand, Juicy J’s, last Friday, 17th April, at the Owl Bar’s Splash Zone Pool Party.
DJ warming up before pool party at Owl Bar
Although our site is not an exclusive food review site (unlike another similarly named website), you are hearing it here exclusively first – this burger brand may be new to the market but it is not one to deprive your tastebuds of!
Tantalisingly-named JUICY J’s, the brand is all about selling good quality food at affordable prices without compromising on quality. At the pool party where we met with the founders of JUICY J’s, the avid food lovers shared with Shiok! that they are essentially aiming for the casual food market, similar to the newly-IPOed Shake Shack in America.
We ask the one of the three burger-men himself, Jaesh Balachandran, more about JUICY J’s…
Shiok!: Congrats on setting up JUICY J’s! How did this burger business come about?
Jaesh: I stopped over in Amsterdam on my way to Slovakia to visit my in-laws (Jaesh is a Singaporean who studied Law in Manchester and met and married his sweetheart there, and she moved back to Singapore with him after graduation) and I walked into a shop called Burger Bar Amsterdam. Their burgers were fantastic and the way they operated (out of a small shoe-box stall) was something I found appealing and suitable to land-scarce Singapore. I had always felt that burgers overseas were much better and had more variables than the ones in Singapore and I was motivated to change that. I decided to start Juicy J’s which will run as a pop-up brand first to introduce my food to people and to be certain that the market is receptive to my food. It is my hope that our success as a pop-up brand will lead to us eventually opening a stall.
As Jaesh smiled to himself thinking about his future burger stall, we were invited to try their burgers. What’s so great about JUICY J’s? Unlike some burger joints, burgers from Juicy J’s use 100% fresh Australian chuck with zero fillers and binders in the burgers.
We met Juicy Lucy with her yet to be named Chicken Burger gal pal
That explains the tenderness of the patty, and how there is no sense of Je-Latness at all! Their signature Juicy Lucy burger erupts with cheese from within the patty with each bite. Plus points for the buns as well – they make up half (or more) of a burger, and if you get that right, you are half-way to a great burger! The buns were like giant marshmallow bread, and coated with a layer of patty grease. It was quite messy and definitely juicy but we had fun…exactly how a burger should be! Besides Juicy Lucy, we also made friends with their chicken burger who is yet to be named. Even if this chick didn’t have buns, we wouldn’t have minded one bit because that’s how tasty the meat was!
Shiok!: Please share with us how did your burger brand name come about?
Jaesh: (with some laughter as though he was telling us a joke) We’re Juicy J’s because juiciness is a most prized and rare quality in burgers and that’s what we have strived to produce. Its J’s because the 3 owner’s names, Jareth, Jurrel and Jaesh all start with J!
Two-thirds of Juicy J’s and Shiok!’s personal chefs for the night!
Shiok!: Juicy indeed! Where/what is the best or juiciest burger you’ve had?
Jaesh: The best burger I’ve ever had was in Manchester where I was studying, in a shop called Almost Famous. In the realm of casual and affordable dining experiences, this burger shop was truly head and shoulders above everything I had tried before. My first interest in wanting to make great burgers sprang from those “uni trips” to Almost Famous. The emphasis of their food was for everything to be as messy and as delicious as possible.
Shiok!: Wow, the word “SHIOK!” springs to mind…what about in Singapore, which/where is the most shiok food to you?
Jaesh: Indeed…My favourite local food is at Yet Con in Purvis Street, it’s a very old-school chicken rice restaurant that’s been around since 1940. It has a very nostalgic feel to it and they do many homestyle Hainanese dishes that accompany the chicken rice very well.
Shiok!: Back to business…you referenced Shake Shack as an inspiration, and just by their public listing it goes to show that they are definitely a market leader in the burger/casual food business. Almost every Singaporean who visits NYC will have a meal at Shake Shack, machiam burger pilgrimage! What are your thoughts and dreams for JUICY J’s?
Jaesh: Shake Shack’s rise shows us that consumers are becoming more discerning eaters even when it comes to fast-food or casual dining. Shake Shack is truly an inspiration to me as a brand that was willing to compete with huge established players like Mcdonalds and Wendys and has now come out on top. I don’t think we’ve ever thought about reaching the size and scale of the post-IPO Shack Shack, but it’s definitely a dream of ours to create a lasting brand and to expand that brand to reach more people. We have to understand our strengths and weaknesses as a Singaporean brand hoping to expand as opposed to Shake Shack expanding in and out of America…I think there’s alot of potential for us to leverage off the strength of the Singapore brand in the Asian market, so having our brand all across is Asia is definitely something we’ve dreamt about!
Shiok!: That’s admirable and do you think Shake Shack can sustain its brand post-IPO?
Jaesh: To be honest, I think it’s still a bit too early to evaluate Shake Shack’s performance after their sudden explosion of growth. They have attracted consumers in their early days with their niche appeal but it remains to be seen whether they can maintain their brand standards while undergoing such a large and accelerated expansion. There’s always the fear that once a firm is public-listed they might begin to compromise on quality and become too profit-centric. Personally, I think the people behind Shake Shack are definitely very intelligent and astute businessmen so I think they should be able to cope with the challenges they face.
Shiok!: Very insightful! Now, for the most important question…Where do we find JUICY J’s?
Jaesh: Well, it’s not easy…as right now we are basically a pop-up brand for the time being and the strategy is to ensure we have enough traction in the market and a solid fan base before we venture into having a physical store outlet. But rest assured, you guys at Shiok! will be the first to know of all our upcoming pop-ups!
Shiok! is very thankful to Jaesh for sharing, and we wish all the best to JUICY J’s, we hope to see your first burger stall soon and thereafter all over Asia as you guys have dreamt!
Stay tuned to our events calendar to discover JUICY J’s next pop-up food event, and like their Facebook page