At first it looks like an egg sandwich, and it is in a way, but instead of American cheese or Cheddar, the omelet cradles a juicy ground beef patty. The Malaysian specialty is called a Ramly burger. The first time I had one was a decade ago at a Ramadan Bazaar held by the Ladies’ Association of the Permanent Mission of Malaysia in New York. For a while Zak Pelaccio’s Fatty Crab was serving up Ramly inspired Fatty Sliders. The juicy pork and beef numbers seasoned with Malaysian spices were quite tasty, but they lacked the eggy envelope and thus Ramlyness.
So I was quite pleased when I spotted The Malaysian Project making Ramly burgers at the Queens Night Market a few weeks ago. Unfortunately I had just come from leading an epic Flushing Chinatown food tour and was rather full. I had just enough energy to watch as the Calvin Leong and his three pals who make up the Project whipped up the burgers.
“You’re back again,” Calvin would say as I returned again and again to ogle the sizzling patties and omelets and take photos. Finally after a nice restorative nap, I bit the bullet, or rather the burger. It sang with the flavors of curry and chili and was even better than the one I had a decade ago. The little package was far from tidy—it’s the type of burger that necessitates removing one’s watch and rings.
Leong, who hails from Subangjaya near Kuala Lumpur, says he and his pals season the patty with umami-laden Maggi; Worcestershire; and a house curry made from coriander, fenugreek, turmeric, chili,cumin, and other spices. Before the Ramly is wrapped up, the grill man adds more curry, more Worcestershire, white pepper, and spicy mayo. Then the whole lot is placed on a bun that’s been brushed with brown butter and topped with more spicy mayo and lettuce.
Burger stands are ubiquitous in K.L., Leong says. “When you order a plain burger it comes with a patty, lettuce, chili sauce and mayo. That’s a classic,” Leong says noting that the egg-wrapped version Malaysian Project makes is known as a special. Different stalls have signature styles, some use black pepper sauce and most rely on Baba’s Curry Powder for seasoning.
“It happens every single night,” Leong said with a laugh when asked about Malaysian night markets. As for the question in the headline, the Ramly burger is certainly the best burger at Queens Night Market. Really though, the best thing at the market is whatever you discover on your next visit. I’ve been eyeing the ceviche from Inti Sumaq for a while. I’ve a feeling it will be my next best best thing. What’s yours? Let me know in the comments kids.
Queens Night Market, New York Hall of Science, Corona