AN AMERICAN BURGER IN CHINATOWN

If you’re looking to get your burger fix in Chinatown, you’ve got to sink your teeth into the newest burger on the block. The Daley is located in the Real Office Centers building (near Fête). It’s a small, charming shop on Nuuanu Avenue. Look out for “The Daley” printed on the glass window in bold block lettering.

The Daley
The Daley Burger

THE DALEY

If I were to sum up this spot in one word, it would be “simplicity.” Everything from the menu to the décor to the burgers themselves are superbly simple. The interior design is very “industrial chic,” featuring a black-and-white color scheme with painted white brick walls, unadorned bar stools, and stainless steel countertops. The menu is straightforward as well: Daley Burger, Beyond Burger (meatless), fries, beer, shots, or shakes. No frills here — just straight to business.

The Daley
The interior features simple and clean black-and-white design schemes

If you’re feeling bold there’s also a combination called “The Man of Five,” which turns out to be one of everything (“double down” burger, fries, shake, beer, and a shot). It’s not something I decided to go for on a typical Tuesday lunch break, but I’m sure the remainder of my workday would have been far more interesting if I had.

The Daley
The Menu

I ordered a Daley Burger with fries and a shake, and my friend opted for the Double Down. I debated trying the Beyond Burger for comparison’s sake (like I did with Burger King’s Impossible Whopper), but decided to save that for another time. 

When I ordered the shake, I was told the flavor is currently burnt orange, molasses, and malt. The flavors will rotate depending on the creativity of Aaron Lopez (Mid-late Summer Ice Creamery). Everything else in The Daley had seemed pure and simple except for this exotic-sounding shake, so I was very intrigued. The shake station, a soft-serve machine in the far corner of the shop, is actually self-service! I was worried I’d get carried away and end up making a huge mess, but the shake has a thick consistency akin to soft serve and impressively even kept its texture throughout the course of my entire meal.

The Daley
Burnt orange, molasses, and malt shake

We sat at the counter where we had a prime view of the cooks preparing our smash burgers. They’re made from fresh Kunoa Cattle Co. beef (#supportlocal!), and it’s hard to keep your mouth from salivating as you watch them sizzle away on the flat top. Each beef patty is topped with a slice of American cheese and some diced onions, which get their time on the grill to get decadently melty and caramelized. When the patties are finished, they’re layered onto some toasted buns that have been daubed with a scoop of special sauce. And that’s it!   

Our burgers were served nestled beside a scoop of lightly-salted crinkle fries, straight out of the deep fryer. Don’t expect to keep your hands clean while chowing down on this beefy beauty; the grease, cheese, and sauce will make a mess of your fingersas any good burger should.   

The Daley
The Double Down is a handful and a mouthful!

My first bite of the Daley Burger immediately reminded me of the definition of “soul food.” There are no lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, or other fanciful toppings to obscure the true stars of the dish⁠ — just unapologetic beef flavor. You can actually taste the quality of the beef. I liked how the edges of the patty developed a slight crust from being pressed on the grill to cook. Although they were smashed against the flat top the burger wasn’t overly dry, and the caramelized onions, gooey American cheese, and creamy sauce only enhanced its flavors. The special sauce is reminiscent of an aioli mixed with relish; I’m not sure what it’s comprised of, but there’s a bit of a tang mixed in with the savory mayonnaise flavor. 

Next, I tried a spoonful of the shake. I couldn’t taste any hint of citrus from the orange, but the molasses and malt flavors came through. It was reminiscent of caramel, including its pale ochre coloring. The texture is slightly icier than soft serve because it’s a shake, but not as runny as a milkshake. On the whole, I found it immensely refreshing, especially after the summer heat we had to battle on our walk over. It wasn’t overpoweringly sweet, which I also appreciated. Sweet and salty is my favorite flavor combination, so I was in heaven as I alternated my bites of burger, shake, and fries.

The Daley
Daley Burger, crinkle fries, with a burnt orange, molasses, and malt shake

I don’t have too many criticisms about my meal. My only critique of the burger would be that some bites were a bit sauce-heavy, which overwhelmed the flavor of anything else. I also felt the crinkle fries were nothing particularly special. I did like that they’re fresh-fried and salted to order. But I like my fries with less overall mushiness and a better ratio of “outside-crispiness” to  “inside-softness” (yes, I believe those are the scientifically correct terms with which to describe fry anatomy). I think it’s just personal preference.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Daley
Look for The Daley on Nuuanu Avenue!

Overall, would I recommend this place? Yes. The Daley serves classic, well-crafted smash burgers that make for an immensely satisfying meal. The shake was intriguing, and I’m excited to see what other flavors are yet to come. I liked the casual charm of this spot, and the quality of the food is unmistakable.

Will I be back again? Definitely.

The Daley
1110 Nuuanu Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96817
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