Burger-Chan reborn

Cult-favorite Galleria-area burger joint toasts new year with soft opening

Cult-fave Galleria-area burger joint toasts new year with soft opening

burger-chan burger
Burger-Chan is back. Photo by Terence Tang
Burger Chan Galleria Diane Willet Feng
Owners Diane and Willet Feng. Courtesy of Burger-Chan
Burger Chan Galleria interior
A sneak peek inside the new space. Photo by Conor Moran
burger-chan burger
Burger Chan Galleria Diane Willet Feng
Burger Chan Galleria interior

For Houston burger lovers, 2022 is off to a great start. Burger-Chan, the cult favorite burger restaurant, has finally opened its new location near the Galleria.

First announced in 2019, owners Diane and Willet Feng have brought their burger making talents to 5353 West Alabama St., the Galleria-area office build that's already home to Hidden Omakase and Tom N Toms Coffee. After a couple of weeks of invite-only practice service, the restaurant began its public soft opening on Monday, January 3. 

The opening represents a comeback for the restaurant. Burger-Chan's original location in Greenway Plaza closed in 2020 when the office workers who had been the restaurant's core customers started working from home due to the pandemic. Dedicated fans could still order Burger-Chan via Click Virtual Food Hall (a partnership that remains intact), but even a carefully created to-go experience doesn't match sitting in a restaurant and feasting on a hot, fresh burger.

Chef Willet Feng, a Rice alum who worked at places such as Oxheart and Dish Society before opening Burger-Chan with his wife Diane, sets his burgers apart with an Asian-inspired umami glaze that enhances the beef's meaty flavors. Housemade sauces such as scallion aioli, sambal mayo, and barbecue sauce further set the burgers apart. 

Moving to its own brick and mortar restaurant comes with a number of advantages. For the first time, Burger-Chan will offer dinner service as well as wine and beer. In addition, the larger space allowed the couple to add a grill to the kitchen. Also, diners now have the option of either indoor or outdoor seating. 

During its soft opening, Burger-Chan will serve a limited menu that starts with its signature burgers made with beef from 44 Farms. Other entree choices consist of an all-new falafel patty made by former Oddball Eats chef Rani Francis and an all-beef hot dog by Nathan's Famous. Sides include french fries, sweet potato fries, curly fries, tater tots, taro root chips, and fried cheese curds. A kid's menu offers a cheeseburger, grilled cheese, corn dog, or chicken nuggets. 

Dinner specials are still under development, Diane Feng tells CultureMap. Show up and be surprised.

Ordering will be familiar to anyone who visited the Greenway Plaza original. Grab a clipboard and select from the wide array of options. They start with patty size (2 or 5-ounces), bun (sweet sourdough, brioche, rye, or lettuce wrap), and cheese (Cheddar, Swiss, or pepper Jack). Standard vegetables and sauces such as lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, ketchup, and mustard are all included.

After that, get creative with premium toppings that include proteins (fried egg, bacon, or Spam) and vegetables like sauteed mushrooms, charred jalapenos, avocado, and kimchi relish. Housemade sauces can be added either as a topping or included on the side.  

As the couple notes in a press release, the restaurant is only operating at about 85 percent of how they expect it to. Therefore, diners will receive a 15-percent discount during the soft opening. For this week, hours are 11 am-2pm Monday through Saturday except for Tuesday, January 4 and Thursday, January 6 when the restaurant will stay open until 8 pm.