Zinc 101: Syringe-stabbed burgers, live music, pool tables, and a Fireball whiskey shot machine at Udomsuk gastrobar

Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts

After seeing social media photos of a burger with a syringe of au jus sticking out of it, we knew we had to make a visit to Udomsuk’s Zinc 101 and try it for ourselves. In what some might call a saturated burger market in Bangkok, unusual measures must be taken to catch the eye of fickle diners. This place certainly did that for us.

Daniel Omland and Nui Waree opened the bar, on Sukhumvit 101/1, a year ago after scouring streets nearby to find the perfect digs. They saw potential in the former motorcycle repair shop — which was also a former rice processing plant half a century ago. They spent several months doing the renovation themselves, from pouring the cement to building the furniture. We even spied Nui’s name carved into the cement in one corner of the quirky spot.

Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts
Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts

What we liked most about this place is how it strikes the right note between Thai and Western-style bars. As one Brit patron said, “It’s a Thai place that also manages to have a pub vibe, which seems incongruous but they manage to pull it off.”

Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts
Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts

It’s got charming wooden furniture that references old-fashioned Thai bars as well as two pool tables, one for competitive play and one for couples just fooling around with the game, Daniel explains. They’ve got a stage for Thai cover bands that play Western songs (The Cranberries and Blink 182 figure heavily in their repertoire) but also big screen TVs to show sports. Another draw is, what Daniel believes is the city’s only Fireball shot chiller, a machine gifted to them by the importer since they are one of the top sellers of the cinnamon whisky shots (THB120, THB99 during their Whisky Wednesday promotion) in the city.  

Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts
Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts

The food and drinks are also a good blend: They do the aforementioned burgers with track marks, wings, pizza, lasagnas, and English-style pies but also somtam, tom yum, and larb moo. The drinks include Western wines, Fireball, and cocktails like mojitos and margaritas (THB180), but you can also get a bottle of Thai rum (THB499 with free mixers). Maybe it’s due to this mix, as well as prices low enough to draw in Udomsuk locals, that they get an even split of Thai and farang customers.

For those on a budget, they can stop in during Friday’s Pressure Hour, from 7-8pm, when the owners put their own unusual spin on a happy hour. During this period, local beers are THB45 for a small and THB65 for a large, just a few baht more than you’d pay at a convenience store. The catch? The first time you go to the bathroom and “break the seal,” as the saying goes, the prices jump back up to their standard rates of THB75 and THB95. Sounds like an equal mix of fun bar game and bladder infection waiting to happen, but, hey, we’re in if we get to save THB30 per beer.

When we stopped by on a recent Friday night, we had a chance to chat with the owners before the place started filling up for pressure hour. Soon enough, they were busy working the room, the grill, the bar, and even playing pool with customers.

Nui (left), staff members, and Daniel (right) Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts
Zinc’s Staff (L to R): Nui, Furn, Goong, and Daniel. Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts

No matter, the crowd is friendly enough that a few people joined our table and became fast friends, telling us why they liked the place. One said, by the second time he came in, they remembered his name and order (large Leo, a glass, but no ice). We partook in several of said Leos with him and a round of Fireball shots ahead of dinner.

Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts
Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts

Before the famed burger would arrive, we tried their Vegetarian Pizza (THB270) and Zinc Buffalo Wings (THB120).

Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts
Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts

The wings were spicy with a good flavor, large, and filling. Daniel explained that they modeled them after those served at Hooters, with the same sweet yet hot profile. The outer coating contains homemade sriracha black pepper sauce, lemon, dehydrated peppers, and butter. They arrive with a large side of mayonnaise blue cheese sauce. “If you want to shed a few kilos, it’s probably not the best recipe,” Daniel admitted.

If you don’t mind the calories but hope to keep your wallet hefty as well, the wings are just THB10 each on Wednesdays.

Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts
Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts

The pizza is brought in from a tapas spot down the street called LaTasca Gastro Bar, owned by a friend of theirs. It was rectangular and could compete, in shape, style, and spirit, with Pizza Pala Romana, a perennial favorite under Asoke station that serves Roman-style pizza.

The sauce on Zinc’s offering was tangy, the cheese plentiful, and the toppings generous and fresh (eggplant, olives, red peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes). When we peeked under the edge, it was properly leopard spotted and large enough for three people, a pretty good value.

But we’re really here to talk about the burger, aren’t we? Their standard issue Zinc Burger (THB190) with lettuce, tomato, and garlic aioli on a brioche bun comes with fries and is a nice size and a very good value. All of the burgers can be served with the syringe, just ask.

We tried the syringe option ourselves on the El Diablo Ringer (THB275) with jalapeno jack, pickled jalapenos, sriracha aioli, and spicy sriracha sauce and found that, due to the positioning of the instrument, the jus is shot directly into the patty, keeping the bun intact and the burger unsloppy — for at least the time it takes to eat it.

The syringe came about since they wanted to put a unique spin on their burger. Nui saw that you could buy these syringes at the pharmacy next to their bar, and the rest is Bangkok burger history.

As Daniel said, “Any bastard can make a burger, but it’s the small details that make it good.”

Daniel said they grind the meat to order for each patty, and use buns from a French bakery, plus meat from the French-Thai Butchery in Phrom Pong (same as Homeburg). 

Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts
Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts

The night we visited they made the first-for-customers version of a new creation: The Squealer on Steroids (THB850) is a three kilo burger that can also be made with pork or chicken. When it came out to us, standing about eight inches tall, we were pretty impressed. One person in our party declared it the best burger he’d ever had, and after the hot beef injection, it was certainly the juiciest.

Photo: Zinc 101/FB
Photo: Zinc 101/FB

It featured two patties, a double order of bacon, three kinds of cheese, a layer of crispy tender pork belly, and onions caramelized in Fireball whisky. The finishing touch on this towering bad boy? The whole thing was served stabbed with two syringes of au jus.

Though this seems like a meal to be shared, Zinc 101 is offering a dare to those that think they can manage it: if any one person can finish the squealer in 30 minutes with the half-kilo of fries it’s served with, it’s free.

 

FIND IT:
Zinc 101
309 Sukhumvit 101/1 (Corner of Soi 13)
Open daily, 5pm-2am. Soon to be open Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
BTS Udomsuk

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