I know, I know… it’s another burger entry but can you blame me? We traveled to the outskirts of Riyadh to find and taste what Time has dubbed as the “most influential burger of all time”. Can you blame me?! Haha! I’ve known about White Castle even before I landed in Riyadh. Partially it has something to do with the movie Harold and Kumar Goes to White Castle where nerdy Harold (played by John Cho) and his friend Kumar (Kal Penn) found themselves bewitched by a commercial for White Castle while stoned. Yes, stoned (but I swear this doesn’t have anything to do with White Castle). They were on a journey to find the nearest branch but it took them to misadventures deep into New Jersey. Now I don’t want any misadventure when we set to find the newly-opened White Castle in Riyadh. I just want to taste their world-famous sliders and since I couldn’t go to the USA any time soon, then this will have to do.
Ironically, we found White Castle in a small Panda plaza in Qurtubah, just across the Arizona compound and golf course. Being a city center lady, I deem the place to be far, far away already. The roads are undergoing construction and I swear there was a moment I thought we were just aimlessly riding into the night because there ceased to be the road and it opened up into a huge space, almost like a deserted parking lot, before we saw the lights of the stores in the Hyperpanda plaza. The ‘castle’ is tucked into a line of food stores and it only has a set of two tables and chairs. It’s more for take-out or maybe a quick lunch or snack for bachelors. I wasn’t really expecting a line given its location. Thankfully, there wasn’t.
White Castle was founded in 1921 in Wichita, Kansas. The first branch was literally castle-shaped and it has white porcelain enamel on steel exteriors, stainless steel interiors and employees in spotless clean uniforms. The branch didn’t have that same exact interiors but it was clean and bright. White Castle is said to be the first fast food chain because its owner Cook Walt A. Anderson is credited with the making of “the kitchen assembly line and the cook as infinitely replaceable technician.” This is where modern fast food came from; they have a chain-wide standardized methods and customers receive the same product and service in every White Castle restaurant.
Anderson is also credited for creating the hamburger bun. White Castle is known for their mini hamburgers that’s easy to eat that’s why they are called “sliders”. The original recipe of White Castle’s mini burgers asked for freshly-ground beef, fresh onions and pickles but nowadays, they use small, frozen patties which are cooked atop a bed of rehydrated onions laid out on a grill. We watched the staff man the grill and at first, the men I’m with (my older brother and husband) were fascinated and arguing on what that white stuff is. My husband even said it’s rice. Haha! They’re onions folks! The heat and steam rise from the grill through the onions. And that’s why, I found out, that the sliders of White Castle are small but they’re big on taste! The buns were soft but they tend to get crisp on the edges if left uneaten for hours. Therefore, you should gobble them up asap.
They have simple menu of four kinds of mini burgers: the Original Slider (the beef patty), the Cheese Slider (original + cheese), the Double Cheese Slider (two beef patty + two cheese), and the Savory Grilled Chicken Slider. They’re expensive for their prices. An Original Slider costs SR 7 and the Double Cheese Slider is SR 13! They really tiny for these prices but we ordered anyway. They have a combo menu consisting of three sliders, regular fries, and drink that starts from SR 22 to SR 34. We chose the Double Cheese Sliders Combo at SR 34 and the Savory Grilled Chicken Sliders (with cheese) Combo at SR 25.
The way of cooking these patties really helped bring forth the flavor of the meat. It went well with the onions and pickle (even for me who doesn’t like pickles on my burger). They’re so tiny we finished one burger in 4-5 bites and that’s being prim and proper. A hungry man can devour it in 2-3 huge bites. Stick to the beef patty because the chicken wasn’t all that great. Also, we had some leftover burgers and the following day, we heat them for a few seconds in the microwave, the beef burger emitted a slightly strong beefy smell that’s a bit off. I don’t know how to describe it but it was surprising. You might just want to take note on this.
If you’re so hooked on their sliders, you can avail of their Big Craves packages. Half a dozen of the original sliders for for SR 32 while 1 dozen (12 pieces) is at SR 75. They’re good for group gatherings. But for larger parties? Bring the Crave Case. 24 pieces of their Original Sliders is SR 148 while the Double Cheese is SR 280. Apart from the fries which also comes in a spicy version, and the sodas in can and water, the menu of White Castle ends there.
Is it worth going the distance? It is if it’s your first time to try White Castle. Otherwise, stick to the burgers near your area.
Qurtubah (across Arizona Compound),
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia [MAP]
T: +966-11-4152919 / +966-51-2345678