Black Tap’s Chris Barish on bringing New York’s famous burgers and milkshakes to Singapore
Burger lovers, this one's right up your alley. Come the third quarter of 2018, New York-based Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer will make its foray into Singapore, opening its first Asia outfit at Marina Bay Sands (MBS). Famed for its moreish burgers, indulgent CrazyShakes, and selection of beers, Black Tap will serve up its delectable creations such as the All-American Burger and award-winning Greg Norman burger. The latter is a tantalising treat packed with wagyu beef, topped with house buttermilk-dill, blue cheese, and arugula on a soft potato bun. Pair that with a Cotton Candy CrazyShake — fabulously ostentatious yet a delightful stalwart in this joint.
Expect a 150-seater restaurant reminiscent of a classic American luncheonette — tunes are also distinctly 90s hip hop and 80s pop. If we can't get to the Big Apple, this is a fitting second option.
Hungry? You should be. We had a chat with restaurateur Chris Barish, the man bringing Black Tap to Singapore later this year. He tells us more about the brand's vision, his favourite items on the menu, and the secret behind a great craft burger.
BUILDING A WORLD-FAMOUS BRAND
The how-tos and know-hows.
Chris Barish (CB): As we build the brand — and seeing it grow in New York in popularity — we are constantly on the lookout for iconic locations, and MBS is one of the most iconic locations in the world. Our strategy as a company wasn't just to expand in the USA, but to pick key destinations to focus on. We're also opening up in Disneyland in California — that's another great location that we're excited about.
SINGAPORE AS A DINING HUB
Where food is at the front and centre of it all.
CB: I've spent a lot of time over the last few days shaking hands with the chefs and owners of the different restaurants at MBS — there are so many eclectic restaurants and fabulous chefs here. One of the reasons I'm staying here longer is to walk around and explore the growing dining scene. I walked into Employees Only the other day, and was impressed with its music and design factor. Singapore is a really fun place to be.
LOCALISING BLACK TAP
Can or not ah?
CB: Our menus are always evolving and we constantly add items to it, but it's important that as we go to different markets that we try to localise. We call it the 80-20 rule. We're currently working on localising the menu here in Singapore — by going around the city and seeing what inspires us.
E=MC2 of the food industry.
CB: When we opened, it was about craft beers and burgers and a 15-seater restaurant in New York. Then came the CrazyShake, which just went viral on social media. We don't know what happened. At our second location, we worked on a new design for the store, and realised that as we grew, design also became one of our most important pillars. We had the burger, which won best burger in New York three years in a row, craft beers, CrazyShakes, and killer design. When we partnered with Sands in Las Vegas, we worked with David Rockwell of the Rockwell Group and the design soared to another level. We're working with him here as well and excited to see where that takes us.
ORDER THIS OR REGRET
No, definitely no regrets here.
CB: I like to come in and have the All-American with Cheese. If I'm trying to be good, I'll have the All-American but I'll sub it with teriyaki broccoli or brussels sprouts.
SIMPLICITY IS KEY
As the saying goes, less is always more.
CB: Many chefs like to come up with over-the-top ingredients, such as foie gras, which does work for a certain kind of restaurant. We keep it simple and we use great ingredients, and that's what keeps it special. One of our top-selling burgers is the Texan Burger. It comes with cheese, an onion ring, barbecue sauce and yet... it's one of our most popular burgers. Keep it simple, I say.
KEEPING QUALITY IN CHECK
The bane of all businesses.
CB: We've been in Dubai 13 months now, and I'll give them as much credit as I can. I have international friends who travel through there all the time — they're like my secret shoppers — and they tell me it tastes the same as New York. Quality control is so important, and we're heartened by the fact that the gentleman who is running Black Tap in Singapore has worked with us two years in New York, and lived over 10 years in Asia. He knows it inside out. We definitely can't sacrifice quality, and I've seen it with other companies that once you make a mistake somewhere, it's a downward spiral. Also, I love to travel — so it won't just be an absentee ownership project.
Black Tap Singapore will open in the third quarter of 2018.
Click here for more information on Black Tap Singapore.