Fast Food Fridays: The Ramly Burger

22 Nov
Ramly burger stand

The hard-working Ramly burger guy.

It’s been a while since my last post, and I have less than a month before we leave Malaysia and Straight Out of Kampung turns into Straight Out of Houston. So I’m trying to cover some Malaysian classics that I’ve missed, like the Ramly burger. 

The Ramly burger is named after the brand of frozen hockey pucks that have long passed themselves off as burger patties in these parts. There are other brands, of course, and some burger stands even eschew the frozen stuff altogether in favor of a homemade patty (though these are usually not beef), but like Kleenex and Band-Aid, the brand name has come to stand for the style of burger. Ramly burgers are distinguished by their overload of local condiments, the better to disguise the vaguely meat-flavored cardboard inside. It’s almost always served with an egg, but in omelet form, not on top. The egg is such a key ingredient that there’s a patty-free version called the banjo. The egg is actually wrapped around the patty as it cooks, like so:

Cracking the egg

Cracking the egg

Burger goes in

Burger goes in

Wrap it up (with some black pepper sauce)

Wrap it up (with some black pepper sauce)

The egg elevates that cardboard to something genuinely tasty. And then on go the condiments:

Margarine AND mayonnaise!

Margarine AND mayonnaise!

This stall's burger accoutrements: cucumber and mango

This stall’s burger accoutrements: cucumber and mango

Standard garnishes are gobs of mayo, chili sauce, cucumber (cheaper than pickles), and tomato, though this stall substituted mango—again, cheaper than tomatoes, and tastier to boot. The result is a sloppy, sticky, salty-sweet mess packed with grease and MSG. Did I mention that Ramly burger stalls almost always open in the evening and operate into the night, the better to serve the appetites of midnight snackers and stave off incipient hangovers? 

You won’t find the Ramly burger on any list of essential Malaysian foods, but it’s one of the things I’ll definitely miss when I leave KL. 


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