BANGKOK — Meaty but a tad bland for Thai tongues, Michigan burger fast food chain is another option for the burger-hungry in Bangkok.
Monday was the first day that Michigan-born fast food chain Big Boy opened in Thailand for business – and of course, we had to chow down those burgers for a try. Overall, the sizes were large, hearty, and filling – but the burgers, especially the non-beef ones, as well as the chicken strips, lacked that extra punch of spice that would impress.
After contacting the branch by phone, an employee said that we should order via delivery apps, either Grab or Line Man, since the branch at Sukhumvit Soi 4 isn’t open for dine-in yet.
Enticed by the “Twice as Big, Twice As Good” tagline we ordered a Super Big Boy Set (299 baht), an a la carte Super Big Boy (249 baht), an American Cheese Burger (169 baht), an Ultimate Chicken Sandwich (199 baht), and five pieces of Chicken Tenders (89 baht).
With delivery, this amounted to a few baht over 1,000 baht for a meal for three hungry people, which we paid out of our own pocket.
Each burger was delivered in a red checkered cardboard box that can be unfolded to serve as a mat to eat on.
Since our bill was more than 500 baht, we received a free M-sized bright red shirt with “Dream Big” smack in the middle of the bosom, next to a phantom shadow of the Big Boy mascot. However, the Facebook page announced Tuesday afternoon they were out of stock of the Tshirts.
Expect to see a circle of grease where the burger had sat on the bottom of the box when unpacking. Unfortunately, the burgers come with some no-name brand sauce packets and a baffling inclusion of plastic-wrapped spoons and forks.
By far the best burger was the signature Super Big Boy (249 baht), which includes three pieces of bread sandwiched with relatively thick beef patties, creamy mayo-like sauce, generous slices of cheese, and lettuce on the bottommost layers.
The buns were surprisingly light – we had been skeptical that the bread in the middle of the burger would overstuff us or make the burger too carb-filled, but it just served to soak up the beef patty meats for extra juiciness.
Fun fact: Big Boy claims to be the first fast food chain to sell these “double decker” burgers, which would go on to also be served by McDonald’s and Burger King.
The added 50 baht for the option with coke and french fries gave us french fries that are about as thick as British chips, fried with the peel on. They go well with burgers, as do all fries, and had nothing especially memorable.
Compared to the other burgers, the Super Big Boy required the most jaw-unhinging to get all the layers in one bite, as its “Super” size is more because of its vertical thickness than width.
Here’s the Super Big Boy next to the Ultimate Chicken Sandwich (199 baht).
The chicken sandwich’s grilled breast didn’t have much flavor, although the mini-strips of bacon did their best to add oomph. The honey mustard dressing pushed the sandwich into the too-sweet territory, while the lettuce and tomatoes on the bottom layer kept sliding around with every bite.
Similarly flavorless were the buttermilk chicken tenders – although the pieces were chunky for 89 baht for five, the sauce that came with it was an unbearable cup of what tasted like pale orange Thousand Island dressing.
Someone at our table gave up and busted out a hidden-away packet of McDonald’s BBQ nuggets sauce. Blasphemy, or resourcefulness?
After eating the Super Big Boy, we had already lost much of our fire in finishing up the American Cheeseburger (169 baht). It has a single beef patty, cheese, tomato sauce, and what seemed to be a fistful of red onions, all between a brioche bun light enough to prevent us from being too full. Still, the beef in the Super Big Boy seemed to be better seasoned.
Like we have with Taco Bell, Thais are expected to welcome the opening of a foreign fast food chain – but whether customers fall in love or a short-lived infatuation is up to the tastiness of the burgers.
The menu includes localized dishes such as chicken rice bowls and kai tod nam pla chicken wings, but we wanted to try the signature dishes, which turned out to lack the extra punch of spice that will make the burgers especially memorable.
Even with a price point similar to that of Burger King’s, paying just a bit more (or even the same amount) will net you a Mother Trucker burger or even a local fusion burger.
Big Boy was founded in 1936 by Bob Wian in California. Big Boy Restaurant Group, which owns the franchise today, is headquartered in Warren, Michigan, in the metropolitan Detroit area.
Although a slew of restaurant closings shrunk the chain from 950 branches at its peak in the 1980s to 149 in 2009 to 75 in 2019 in the US, a new group of investors are looking to expand Big Boy. The company signed a deal with Singapore’s Destination eats to build at least 70 restaurants. There are even more Big Boys in Japan than the US – 274 branches operate independent of the US group.
Big Boy Thailand, located on Sukhumvit Soi 4, is open from 11am to 9pm every day for delivery via Grab and Line Man apps.
This review is unsponsored and we paid for the food ourselves.