Sunday, May 4, 2014

Malaysia's Ramly Burgers are Life Changing

Ramly burgers have changed my life (and my waistline, but let's focus on life, k?). People would probably generally tell you to focus on the diverse Chinese, Indian and Malay food in Malaysia, but I'm here to tell you to focus on burgers. Ramly burgers. Focus on at least one Ramly burger in each city you go to and then decide if you should refocus on other versions of Ramly burgers in those same cities. 

The path to my first Ramly burger wasn't easy. In fact, in Kuala Lumpur, there are no easy paths to anything because the city literally has no sidewalks and has highways for streets. But once you get past that and survey your neighborhood for Ramly burger stands that are all closed when you want a burger but open when you don't, you'll be fine. We found about three closed stands in our neighborhood before realizing that Ramly is a dinner time thing and that we should come back after 6pm. A good strategy to finding your friendly neighborhood Ramly stand is to go to 7Eleven, wait 'till it gets dark, and then get a Ramly burger at the stand that is bound to pop up there. Some 7Elevens have outdoor tables too and you can go in and get an overpriced beer to go with your burger and you'll be all set.  
It's pretty important to go with a beef burger special with cheese, which means that your burger will be wrapped in a thin egg omelet before being sandwiched into its bun. It's not as important to get a beef double egg cheese – my first two Ramly burgers have been so but I've now told Charlie to remind me next time that double is not necessary. 

Basically what happens at the stand is this: magic. Your burger chef/entrepreneur will probably have an assistant that gets the buns ready with lettuce, cucumbers, onions and tons of sauce, and your chef himself will make unbelievable things happen with mystery meat before your eyes. 
It all happens pretty quickly and I was in awe watching during my first experience but I'll spell it out here. First your patties go on the grill. They get some color on each side before being sliced open but not all the way, so they open up and look like little books. The inner book covers get grill time now, before getting sprinkled with things like black pepper and Maggi seasoning. I've heard rumors of Worcestershire sauce. But seriously, we can't know all of the details of magic. 
THEN, your Kraft single style cheese gets layered between your closed book burgers and plopped on top of an ever so thin omelet, ready to fold up into a neat little package. It all gets thrown onto the lightly grilled, margarine-d, mayo-d, sweet chili sauced bun. Then you cry a little while you eat it, because you know that a life changing event is happening. Trust me – it can happen to you. Instead of searcing out the best char kuey teow and laksa, you'll have eyes only for greasy burgers. 
Ramly burgers happen all over the country and to me, they're as Malaysian as any of those other hawker stall dishes. But beware: there are imitators. Choose your Ramly stand by its marketing. If it doesn't bear that special brown and yellow logo, look elsewhere. 

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