Bill has been raving about White Manna for some time now and yesterday he was kind enough to take me and Jessica for a mini road trip that included some of New Jersey’s finest destinations: Target, Costco, and White Manna White Manna.

White Manna Sign

We were told that the original White Mana (note the lack of a second ‘n’), built in 1939, is in Jersey City, but has changed owners several times and has gone way down hill. The Hackensack location we visited opened in 1946. Either way, both copied the style and name of the original slider, White Castle, which opened in 1921. White Manna is pretty cruddy looking and very small, but they make a mean slider.

Layering Onions Applying the Cheese

When you order, your choices are “ham” (for hamburger) or “cheese” (for cheeseburger) and “with onions” or “without onions”. Unlike some restaurants that are particular about the ordering process, the only thing the burger cook (who stands up front) cares about is that you don’t ask her for fries… because a different cooks does those. Her process is to grab about an ounce or two of beef (pre-formed nuggets), lay them out on an approximately 2 by 3-foot griddle, lay super-thin onion shreds across the top, then slap them flat with a spatula.

Three w/Cheese & Onions

After cooking two or three minutes, they get a flip (turning the onions onto the bottom), then most get American Cheese, and buns stacked on top. Two or three minutes later and they’re ready. If you take them to go, each burger gets a shot of ketchup and some pickle slices, then is wrapped into wax paper. If you’re staying, you get pickles on the side and apply your own ketchup. Burgers are a greasy, cheesy mess, but they’re steaming hot and pretty tasty!

Inside a White Manna Cheeseburger

They’re $1.30 each ($1.10 for hams or $2.05 for doubles), and slightly larger than White Castle. They also use fresher-looking ingredients and larger, fluffier, eggier buns than White Castle. The burgers were under-seasoned, but Jessica suggested that adding salty ketchup and pickles helps compensate for that.

Cheese Fries

They also sell fries, but as Bill warned, they’re frozen and nothing special. Jessica took the plain and I took them with a side bucket of melted cheese. Eh, they were under-seasoned, under-cooked, and mediocre at best. Skip them.

We sat at the tiny counter (hurting my back due to the lack of space) and watched the line grow and grow. I also watched the slow service (6 minutes to cook a slider?). I guess this is why White Castle has grown tremendously and Manna has not. Bill has never tasted White Castle and Jessica feels they taste like nothing. I, however, love White Castle and think it blows White Manna out of the water. Jessica and I agreed the sliders were good and well worth the price, but absolutely not worth the drive. So unless we lived within the immediate area of White Manna, we wouldn’t go again (plus we can just make our own sliders), but it was fun to try a new place.

posted by Lon at 08:51 AM Filed under American and New American, Restaurants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.