BOOM sits down and talks burgers with Austin Fry, the owner, creative director, and old-school “soul-man” of Roundhouse, Mavericks, and Boomshack.
Hailing from Austin Texas while spending a few years over in Europe, Mexico City, and Cambodia, needless to say Fry is an experienced “All Round Dude,” as his business card titles him. Inked up from his arms to his knuckles, his diverse collection of tattoos reflects the influences in his life that have made him successful. The inception of Boomshack had occurred in quite an unlikely venue – the first Hong Kong Tattoo Convention which he was involved in back in 2013. Fry partnered with Billy Pang, good friend and owner of Mong Kok sneaker spot Da Hood, who was looking to branch out into the F&B world. “I just had a booth with no name, but that’s where it all happened. I’m a huge fan of the food truck scene from the States, so I knew I wanted to do something like that, then at the tattoo convention the food started to evolve, I started to get an understanding of where I was headed, then by Clockenflap 2013 I had everything together. I had the logo, we had the chicken and waffles: it was a massive hit.” 2014 was then dedicated to looking for the perfect spot. “This is always the hardest part, especially with the rent being so crazy and everything in Hong Kong being about location. I just wanted to make sure we had the right place, and I was willing to wait for as long as it took. I really love this location, the street, the pavilion back there, all of it.”
One glance at the menu will tell you that Fry does not cement his culinary style in a single cuisine and flawlessly fuses two to three with ease. Ingredients can range from Korean kimchi, Japanese edamame, local char siu – and don’t even get started with the Mexican and Spanish ingredients. Of course, you got the Southern classics like chicken and waffles, or a Tex-Mex burger. But he shows utmost respect for local culture seen in the King Kong burger, which is as Hong Kong as it gets: beef and spam patty, bok choy, provolone cheese, and homemade XO mayo. “There’s a lot of Austin Texas influence here, but at the same time, I don’t ever want to be that expat that comes and tries to force my culture on people. That’s why when you look at the menu you got the King Kong burger, which is my HK inspired burger. I try to pick out ingredients that in my mind, stand out here. And all my local friends love this burger, I’m also doing char siu, but I didn’t want to go 100% traditional with it because theres so much good char siu here and I didn’t want to compete with them. There are subtle twists to traditional recipes that I’ve done.”
When asked about some of the critics pointing out that the burgers were too small, Fry’s friend popped out and chimed in, “Well I could get two dope burgers here for the same price as one shitty one around the corner.” Laughing, Fry added, “To the critics, look at my price points. I use all premium cuts of meat. My burger blend is brisket, chuck, and rump. I use good imported cheeses, and my bread is special – made with a recipe from potatoes that me and Kit from Mui Wo Village Bakery perfected over a month. We’re serving quality stuff fast – if you want a cheap burger there’s other places to go but, pound for pound, I think we serve one of the best burgers in Hong Kong, no doubt about it.”
But competition is growing fast and is down the corner – literally – but Fry is confident and simply takes it in stride. “I always welcome competition, I think it’s good. It’s getting a little crazy with that many burger joints but I welcome it, I have faith in my product. I think we put out a really good burger that could stand up to anybody else in Hong Kong. It’s really different and very unique.” He seeks to head in a different general direction as some of the other burger joints have adopted recently. “Where we stand out, we’re not going in a certain ‘risque’ direction, like the loud music or the provocative image. I definitely want to go in the family direction.” He recalls the massive success and positive reception from parents of the first time he launched a healthy kids’ menu at Maverick’s and plans to do the same with Boomshack. Fascinated by children’s drawings not bound by society’s norms, he plans to let the kids draw all over the walls with the launch. “At the same time on the late night side, it’s a place to relax and have fun away from the main street, a place for everybody, we don’t discriminate whether you’re a college kid or an older professional. Above all, the main thing about the place is that it’s a lot of fun.”
Fuelled by a creative director with an impressive resume, the future of Boomshack looks bright. Fry plans to throw a block party this summer with both headliners and local acts, and if successful would become an annual event. He thinks ten steps ahead, as he tells us how he strategically built a larger production kitchen. He plans to open up small shops all around the city to deliver to straight from the main kitchen, as he’s big on consistency. He eventually hopes to open up the first food truck in Hong Kong which is in the works, but as for now Fry is content with it just being in the store. He finishes the interview with the following message to the people: “Just come out and try it, give it a shot. I think people will be pleasantly surprised. I have great staff, I do a lot of training, everybody knows how serious I take this. Again, at the end of the day it’s about having fun man.”
Address: Shop B, G/F, Wo On Building, 8-12 Wo On Lane, Central
Phone: +852 2660 5977