Guangzhou Grub: 13 Factories’ The Fac’ Burger

THE FAC’ BURGER

  • Bacon
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Roasted tomatoes
  • Roasted pepper marmalade
  • Mushrooms
  • Lettuce
  • Beef patty
  • Brioche bun

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The Fac’ Burger from 13 Factories

Well, folks, as time goes by, my days in the City of Five Goats draws near, and I’m afraid that soon I’ll be desperate to make sure I haven’t missed any hidden foodies gems, and it’s all very rope-about-to-get-burned-by-a-burning-candle-esque, and very, very real. Like a grim Rube Goldberg contraption of inevitability. BUT, I feel great because if GZ really does have a hidden gem of burgery goodness then I’ve SURELY already found it and had it (many, many times) in the tiny, somewhat secluded confines of the 13 Factories diner. Before my journey in China began I would have been tempted to call this little establishment owned by a Chinese American New Yorker “a diamond in the rough”, but as evidenced by the series of articles here, 13 Factories’ burger is one of the many great burgers that Guangzhou has to offer.

Though it boasts a rather naughty sounding name, the FAC’ BURGER is just named after the diner itself, which is derived from the 18th century historical Thirteen Factories area in Guangzhou and for a while it was one of the very few places where foreigners were allowed to trade and live in China. In a way, the diner is supposed to harken back to the glory days between the two Opium Wars as a place where different cultures can benefit from each other in the name of culinary greatness. For the expat community, 13 Factories is a slice of home, and for the locals it is a glimpse of the food from far, far away. Specifically, 13 Factories can be best summed up as a diner that specialized in Cajun and Southern “U. S. American” soul food – jambalaya, clam chowder, chicken fried waffles, steak, Tex-Mex staples,tangy lemonade, New York cheesecake (made by a real New Yorker) and many others are the starts adorning this pointy hat of Yankee culinomancy, BUT we are here to talk about burgers. Soo…

I guess that what truly makes the FAC’ burger unique in the grand scheme of things is that it is just that – unique. It doesn’t try to piggyback on some already established trend, it tries not to ride on the coattails of nostalgia, it does not imitate the classics or the tried-and-true basics, or impress with size or promises of distinguished quality. This “little” burger is the single richest and juiciest burger I’ve had in China, and it packs so much “fifth sense” flavor that it might as well be called the “Umami Padme Hum” (how can I copyright this? I’m pretty sure I’m the first person to come up with this) – a mantra that all the little burgers chant on their quest for tasty perfection. This burger capitalizes on the robust umami flavor, and it does so by introducing a smorgasbord of glutamate-packed ingredients cooked in a way that only enhances that meaty flavor that umami is known for. I already talked a bit about the awesomeness of roasted tomatoes when I introduced the All New Hooley Burgerbut with the FAC’ burger you also have to factor in its roasted red pepper marmalade – a delicious, sweet concoction of finely cut red peppers which are then roasted to bring out all of the umami for the world to taste, sacrificing freshness for concentrated flavor without the distraction of crunch. And, to make matters better, tiny slivers of mushroom are mixed in with the marmalade, making this an umami trifecta totally worth all the praise. Now imagine all of this bouquet vivified by the juices of the beef patty, and lo! A heavy hitter!
Just the right amount of cheese brings all the fine bits together with its mild flavor. That’s done to achieve a deliberate charcuterie chiaroscuro with the bacon pieces generously protruding all over the place. Hands down the best bacon I’ve had in GZ. By far. It’s not like the ham-fisted attempts of some businesses to peddle, well, ham, as “bacon”. It’s crispy, and it’s chewy, and it’s glorious, and oh, I missed you so much bacon, please forgive me for leaving you. We all deserve second chances.

And there you have it:  a first among equals, devoid of subtlety, deceptively petite, filthy rich and juicy – the FAC’ BURGER. This is the burger you have to try if you find yourself in Guangzhou. So, go right ahead. Substitute the salad it comes with for their Cajun fries and wash it all down with a pitcher of their homemade PBR-based shandy. I’d say “You can thank me later”, but I’m just the messenger.

And the devourer.

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