Look out, New York City, Ashes Burnnit is coming in hot with their gourmet burgers! If you haven't heard, Makansutra and Glutton Bay's founder KF Seetoh is opening up a food market called Urban Hawker in New York City. Modelled after our own hawker centres, it will be located at 135 West 50th Street, near the famous tourist attraction Times Square.
According to KF Seetoh's Facebook post, Urban Hawker is due to open to the public in early September. There's about 11 stalls serving up some of our local delicacies there - and one of them is none other than Ashes Burnnit ? From running a humble stall in Golden Mile Hawker Centre to opening four more outlets across Singapore, 30-year-old owner Lee Syafiq shared with us the ups and downs, and give us insight on what we can expect at his stall in Urban Hawker! ?
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The Beginnings Of Ashes Burnnit
Credit: Ashes Burnnit
We all know that burgers aren't something new in Singapore's halal food scene, but that didn't faze the young, passionate Syafiq more than 3 years ago ? "We wanted to serve food that caters to these target audiences, something that they will enjoy with their friends and families, and we thought, 'why not bring burgers to the scene, make it halal, add our own set of fusion flavours in it and make it affordable for everyone to be able to enjoy'?", Syafiq shared.
The idea made it out from a casual conversation during a supper run with some friends - the first stall opened in 2019 at Golden Mile Hawker Centre to great success ? Syafiq worked hard to ensure that their gourmet burgers stood out - for starters, they are considered one of the first hawker burger brands to offer charcoal bun burgers ?
In addition, their burgers are made freshly upon order so that customers can also experience the 'gourmet' burger at affordable prices. Jumpstart to a few years later, their business grew - now you can pop by any of Ashes Burnnit's four other outlets across Singapore if you have a hankering for some juicy burgers at Alexander Village Food Centre, Springleaf Eating House at Bedok, L W Eating House at Teck Whye Lane, and Broadway Coffeeshop in Woodlands North Plaza (which opens on 1st September!) ?
It seems like Syafiq has lived out his dream, but of course, his success comes from a journey that's anything but smooth sailing ?
The Good, The Bad And The Ugly
To put it simply, Syafiq felt like he was a fish out of water - while he has a degree in Culinary Arts, he and his partners were business newbies. "We have no clue on what is it like in the future for the business growth, and at the same time, putting a huge gamble on carving our future to have financial stability and holding the responsibility to take care of all our staff as the head of the company", he recounted ?
Nevertheless, waving the white flag at the first sign of trouble is not his middle name. He pulled his socks and get to work. "It was plenty of late nights, reading books, researching, and long hours at the shop, but we kept our chin up throughout the tough times and never give up on the dream that we had, which was to build a successful empire in Singapore", he added ?
Empire State Of Ashes Burnnit
Syafiq, first from right. Credit: Lee Syafiq
When Syafiq first heard of this offer from KF Seetoh, he was in disbelief. In his mind, who knew that this humble hawker business of his would be going beyond Singapore's shores - a dream turned into reality? "We were shocked that someone as famous like [KF Seetoh] came to present us this wonderful opportunity. Ashes Burnnit always want to achieve in our business development, so this really give us a challenge and a huge opportunity to make it big and grow at an exponential rate", he shared.
A sneak peek of Ashes Burnnit in NYC. Credit: Lee Syafiq
Currently, he's in the midst of preparing for the launch of his stall at Urban Hawker, and he's shared with us exclusive details and pictures of what you can expect if you find yourself in the area on your next New York trip.
Credit: Lee Syafiq
"The menu that we have created for the outlet in NYC still has the base flavours of what we have here back in Singapore, but to enhance our burgers, we added elements that the NYC locals are familiar with to give them a touch of familiarity of taste that they hold close to the heart", he explained.
Satay Grilled Chicken Burger. Credit: Lee Syafiq
He calls it the best of both worlds - which combines both the Asian/Singaporean and New York flavours in each burger. A supper favourite here has been made into a meaty delight in the form of Satay Grilled Chicken Burger. Satay burgers aren't new to us, but it's a craze that we can't get enough of - we're sure New Yorkers would soon understand why ?
Roti John. Credit: Lee Syafiq
They're also introducing a pasar malam staple to the streets of New York City - the Roti John. You already know how it's going to taste like, but in true Ashes Burnnit fashion, they're fusing it with the "flavours of New York City". Now, Syafiq isn't spilling any more details when probed further, but sometimes the best things in life are kept a secret, so we're definitely excited to find out about these unique flavours soon! ?
Syafiq (left). Credit: Lee Syafiq
Do we dare say he succeeded in having his own empire? Five outlets within 3 years plus a new stint in the concrete jungles of New York City - we think it's safe to so ? Yet, but nothing gives him greater success than knowing that his family, friends, team and most importantly, the customers, have all been supporting him to "do better and to make a change in the F&B scene of Singapore". His goal for Ashes Burnnit so far still remains clear since Day 1 - “wanting to make a mark in Singapore and beyond the best way I could, through the stomachs of the community”. ?
We're definitely proud of Syafiq and the Ashes Burnnit team for flying our flag high and proud in the Big Apple, and we can't wait to try it soon! For now, you can head to any of the four outlets and sample their juicy burgers! ?
Ashes Burnnit NYC
Halal status: Muslim-owned