單一不單調的台灣漢堡| AGA漢堡

再來我們希望能在空閒時間繼續往外探索,蒐集更多生活靈感,在料理上精進,累積出下一個不一樣的AGA專賣店。

 

「AGA漢堡」單一不單調的台灣漢堡

 

在累積的過程找到自己熱愛的事物

自己在大學主修機械,當初會走進機械領域是父母的期待,覺得機械畢竟跟傳統產業相關,較能在畢業後有工作機會。但大學的幾年裡,其實蠻清楚自己對機械沒有興趣,於是大學開始在pizza店打工,畢業後也都是在中央廚房、自助餐、義式料理、西餐廳等餐飲領域工作,雖然待在廚房並不輕鬆,但汗水換來的是自己對餐飲工作的經驗累積。

從差異化中找到AGA漢堡

回想2012、2013年,初期籌備開店那段時間,當時漢堡店在台北市並不算少,在嚐過許多漢堡後,總覺得即便口味、大小有變化,加上生菜及調味醬料後,吃起來的感覺都差不多,於是便有了來「熱炒青菜」的靈感,把常見的萵苣改成更家常的高麗菜,一起跟牛番茄和洋蔥清炒過再夾入漢堡,一方面讓整個漢堡吃起來都是溫熱的口感,也讓許多不喜歡生菜的孩子或長輩願意嘗試。在感受到這樣的方式在市場接受度是有的,我們才更篤定地繼續將炒蔬菜的特色保留下來。

從投幣機漢堡找到自我的生存法則

2013年7月24日是台北店開幕的日子,那時候在西門町只有兩坪大的小店,是以外帶為主,店外擺放一台點餐機,販售五款漢堡,讓客人自己點餐、付款,機器會出單到廚房,我就可以獨立製作餐點及包裝,省去點餐結帳收銀的動作,簡化流程也兼顧衛生。中午用餐的尖峰時間,當時還另有工作的郭郭(現在的老婆)就會利用空檔來支援,晚上也再來幫忙收攤。而且因為空間受限無法大量存放附餐飲料等乾貨,常常得在打烊後去採買,也在這過程中逐漸練就空間的運用和進銷存的掌控。

由於當時大部分的時間都是一人作業,若是恰巧接到下午茶時段的外送訂單,還得在處理晚上備料之餘,獨立製作餐點、再利用中間店休時間外送。雖然店很小,但因為人力有限,在現有的環境下做最大的努力,找到生存的方式,反而是對自己的磨練、成長。

從台北店找到彰化店

台灣這幾年不論是咖啡店、小農耕種、獨立創業若有在外地工作、讀書,當回到自己原生城市,常常會被冠上「青年返鄉」。然而,當初並非真的抱著什麼遠大心志「青年返鄉」,會想再另尋地點,除了房東在租約期間時常喊漲等困擾,主要還是希望可以找個再大一些、至少有幾個座位內用的空間,無奈可負擔的租金實在找尋不到理想的店面,反而是在店休業後,多了往返彰化的時間,才有了在彰化租屋開店的契機。

我喜歡欣賞老房子,所以找點的方向很自然會傾向較有歲月感的老宅,但也因為這樣很容易碰壁,在彰化看屋常碰到的狀況包含屋主不願意外租、地為國有地建築物不能外租、屋主長年不在無法聯繫…等。而現在AGA所在位置,是又一次詢問老屋屋主未果後,里長轉而介紹牽線而成的,長年旅居國外的房東希望家裡有人照顧,我們也很願意使用並珍惜這個得來不易的空間。於是就在這樣的巧合下,終於找到AGA2.0的落腳處,也終於能實現自己裝潢的夢想。

在彰化得到更多改變的力量

彰化店的再出發在漢堡上有許多變化,除了維持蔬菜是炒過的一貫樣貌,試菜期間找到在彰化市場常見的龍鬚菜,也因川燙後翠綠的顏色、不軟爛卻又不搶戲的口感,成功取代以前用來鋪底增色的小豆苗,完全達成漢堡裡都是熟的蔬菜的目標。

漢堡麵包本身也是花了一番功夫才找到願意幫我們復刻台北店黑麥麵包的在地廠商,特製出吃的到麩皮麥香和紮實口感的麵包。最大的差異是漢堡肉的呈現,雖然絞肉是美式漢堡再正常不過的基底,但經歷這幾年食安問題的折磨,我們發現不管再怎麼強調漢堡排是自己手 工打製,組合肉的陰影還是會讓許多家長卻步。於是我們挑戰用整塊原肉來切,讓漢堡裡夾的都是貨真價實的肉塊,希望大家能夠很放心地去體驗這樣耳目一新的感覺。即使需要花時間慢慢挑筋、下更多功夫去注意肉的紋理及切法,只要得知客人的反應是可以接受,而且也不會難咬,就很慶幸這樣的堅持還是能被認可的。

少了台北小店只做外帶的產品限制,回來彰化我們多推出了漢堡之外的盤餐料理,用相同理念做出都是熟菜的溫沙拉,最開心的是聽到原本不敢吃某些蔬菜的客人,因為我們的料理方式對這些菜有了新的認識,在均衡飲食的道路上得到一些小突破。

以AGA為起點 繼續探索下去

在台北的兩年,加上在彰化將滿一年的時間,過程中偶爾客人會對我們有端出更多樣化料理,例如義大利麵..等的期待,但我們知道自己要學習的還很多,目前在自己有把握的能力範圍內,有辦法成為大家想吃漢堡時第一個想到的漢堡專賣店,就已經是莫大的成就了。

 

 

AGA Burger — Taiwanese burgers that are unified but never dull.

 

 

Spotting the passion

I majored in mechanical engineering in college. The decision of study was to fulfill my parents’ expectations and also because I thought the study was more promising career-wise. However, I realized in the years of study that I was not interested in the subject at all, so I started working part-time at a pizza store. After I graduated, I have worked in a central kitchen,buffet, Italian restaurant, western restaurant and other culinary related jobs.Although kitchen job was never easy, I earned solid culinary experiences.

Identifying AGA Burger from differentiation

Recalling 2012 and 2013 when I first started the preparation work of opening a store, there were already quite a number of burger places in Taipei. After tasting numerous burgers, I thought they all tasted quite similarly regardless of their featured flavors and sizes with uncooked lettuce and sauces.Then the idea of using “sautéed vegetables” came to me. I replaced the commonly used uncooked lettuce with cabbage that is even more home-style. I added tomatoes and onions and sautéed them altogether before putting them into the burger. For one thing, it gives the entire burger a consistent warmth. For another, the combination intrigues the kids or elderlies who dislike uncooked vegetables to try one of my burgers. After confirming that my burger is acceptable to the market, I was assured that I shall keep sautéing my vegetables as a signature.

Identifying my survival principles from a burger vending machine

My store first opened on July 24th 2013 in Taipei. It was a 6.6-square-meter take-out store at Ximending where a vending machine was placed at the door. There were five choices of burger available. Customers would have to place their orders and pay at the machine. Then, the machine would sync the orders to the kitchen where I worked solely to cook and pack. Without having to take orders and do cashier work, I was able to single handedly run the store efficiently and well-sanitized. During lunch rush hours, Guo Guo (She is now my wife) who had a full-time job back then would come to help me out. She would also stopped by after work to help with closing. Also due to the limited space that did not allow much inventory space, I did a lot of after-work grocery shopping from which I gradually learned to master space management and inventory control.

Since I worked by myself most of the time, in afternoons, I would have to manage delivery orders while cooking and preparing for dinner hours at the same time. My burger store was really small, yet with limited manpower, I was forced to make the utmost effort and find a way to survive. The struggle was a real challenge to myself.

Moving to Changhua from Taipei

In recent years, café owners, small-scale farmers or entrepreneurs who return to their hometown after studying or working in another city are often titled “homecoming youth”. However, there was no “homecoming” ambition of any sort for me back then. The reason I sought for another location was because my landlord had frequently threatened to increase rent, and also because I wanted to seek a bigger venue that could accommodate a couple of tables for to-stay customers. However, due to unbearable burden of rent, I was not able to find an ideal location. It was until after I closed the store that I had time to travel back to Changhua more often and decided to rent a place in Changhua.

I am fond of old houses, so I naturally started looking for houses that tell history. Sadly, my interest in old houses has led me to numerous obstacles. Some scenarios I encountered during my old-house-hunt include the owner’s unwillingness to rent the house, the land of the house being public property, the difficulty in reaching the owner, etc. Thanks to the connection of the Chief of Village, the current location of AGA was a blessing after yet another unsuccessful reach-out to the owner of an old house. The owner of the house has been living abroad for years and hoped someone could take care of the house for him, and we happen to be more than willing to use and cherish this hard-earned space. Thanks to all the coincidences, AGA 2.0 was settled, and we were finally able to realize the decoration of our dreams.

Receiving more change-motivating power in Changhua

Our reopening in Changhua came with some changes with our burgers. In addition to our signature sautéed vegetables, we found gracilaria that is very common in markets in Changhua. After sautéed, it stays green, crunchy without outshining the focus of the burger. Therefore, we replaced sprouts that we used to put in the burger to add colors with gracilaria. With that decision made, our burger is now 100% cooked.

The burger bun itself was another challenge. We tried so hard and at last found a local vendor that is willing to recreate the rye bread we used in Taipei. The specially made buns taste of pure wheat and solid texture. The biggest difference in our burger then and now is the meat. Minced meat is very common in the making of American burgers. However, in light of the food safety concerns in recent years, we found that regardless of our emphasis on how we hand-make our burger steak, a lot of people still back away for fear of restructured meat products. With that in mind, we endeavor to cut our burger steak out of a complete piece of meat and put real meat steaks into our burgers. We hope that everyone can enjoy this refreshing burger free of worries. It takes an awful lot of time to process the meat, but learning from our customers that they love it and it is very easy to chew, we are very glad to have insisted and to be recognized for our efforts.

Without being restricted by the take-out model of the Taipei store, we launched an additional dish other than burgers after reopening in Changhua. The dish is a warm salad created based on the same ideology of cooked vegetables. The most rewarding feedback is that some customers have overcome their dislike of certain vegetables via our culinary method. We are really glad to be able to contribute to people’s effort in a more balanced diet.

Starting from AGA, exploring more into the future

In the two years in Taipei and almost one year in Changhua, from time to time we would receive feedbacks from our customers wishing to see diversity in our menu like pastas and so on. I know there is still much to be learned, but we can only handle what our capability allows. It is already quite an achievement that AGA surfaces to many of yours when you are cravingfor a decent burger.

 

 

04 728 2648 FB: AGA Burger
彰化市成功路239號 No.239, Chenggong Rd., Changhua City, Changhua County 500, Taiwan

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