I just had what was one of, if not the best, iteration of the ‘Ramly burger special’ ever. Seriously. The ‘burger bakar’ is conquering the local street burger scene, with one new outlet after another. So where does that leave the Ramly burger? If Master Burger at Brother John’s is any indication, my friend, it is going nowhere.
the Master of roadside burgers...
(in front of Bintang Kopitiam)
56-84 Jalan SS 21/39, Damansara Utama
47400 Petaling Jaya
The Master Burger, enough said
Their ever changing opening times, to be safe, go after 10 pm
To make his famous Master Burger, owner/creator of the stall, Brother John starts off with two Ramly patties, either beef or chicken. On the greasy, hot griddle, he sears the meat, butterflies, and seasons them. To season the patty, he uses a spray bottle containing a brown coloured liquid, we suspect that it's Lea & Perrins but of course Brother John won't confirm. It is after all one of the secrets of his trade.
Using the spray not only speeds up the process but it also allows even distribution of the secret seasoning on the patties. Brother John also adds a pinch of paprika to give the burgers a lil' bit of heat.
Next, he breaks an egg, expertly spreads it around, and places the meat back inside with a slice of cheese. He then deftly folds the egg around the patties. At a glance it does seem like any other Ramly burger special. But then he adds his secret sauce, a sticky, dark, BBQ sauce-like liquid he makes himself ( it's like a love child of bbq sauce and chilli sauce- sweet and smoky ), next, he puts in a short squirt of mustard and a dollop of mayonnaise.
You like eating neat and clean? Forget it here. A hefty beast, this burger is super-sloppy in the best way possible. I cut it in half for an autopsy shot. It was beautiful. The meat, still moist and juicy, sandwiched the cheese slice, making it melt into every nook and crevice on the crust of the patties.
The egg enveloping the patties was thin and delicate, almost crepe like in texture. Below, a bed of crisp cabbage, smothered in some chili sauce and mayo, valiantly tried to protect the bun from the onslaught of juices and sauce above. One bite and you’ll become slave to the Master Burger; the sauce never overpowered the meat, and through it all you could still taste the cheese, the mayo, mustard and egg, and feel the crunch of the vegetables and the piquant chili sauce.
The great thing about this burger is the element of surprise. Each bite is a new discovery. In some, everything comes together to create an explosion of flavours. But once you've bitten off the mustard and cheesy parts, the taste transforms into a normal Ramly burger. Still good but less impressive. This burger teases your taste buds, giving you a blast of amazingness then it pulls back, making you crave for it even more. It was messy, chaotic and definitely worthy of its name. You can't help but surrender to the Master Burger.
One more question for Brother John. What did he think about the burger bakar trend? Would he jump into its smokey depths?
He hesitated a moment. “I don’t know. I don’t see a point of doing something just because everyone else is doing it. It’s better to do what you’re really good at.” I nodded, seeing his angle and realize I was licking my fingers. All that was left of the Master Burger were a few blotches of sauce and cabbage.
For the past thirteen years, this stall located in front of the popular Uptown Damansara foodcourt has been serving out burgers to people from all walks of life. Mr. Kahar, a kindly looking gentleman from Perak, is the proprietor and a former despatch boy. He started selling burgers to supplement his income. Then, I suppose (or would like to believe) he struck gold: customers really loved his burgers, and especially his magnum opus, the Master Burger. So much so that he has finally quit his main job and is now focusing fully on his burger stall. I asked Mr. Kahar aka Brother John, how the stall became known as ‘Brother John Burger’.
He laughed. “The customers gave it to me. They just started calling me Brother John, and I guess it stuck. Not many know my name is Kahar.”
"You’re lucky you came early,” Brother John said as he cleaned his griddle. “And on a weekday. Today my anak buah is helping me out, just two of us. Fridays and Saturdays, you’ll see four of us here, and we’ll put out tables in front. And you’d have to queue!” The last bit he said with a tired, but satisfied smile.
You can customise your burger any way you like here. You can even ask for a 'kahwin' master burger which combines a chicken patty with a beef patty or If you have a more adventurous palate, try the Master mutton burger for a stronger meatier taste.
It’s an unassuming stall. There is no sign saying ‘Master Burger’ or ‘Brother John’, and all you have to know is its located in front of Bintang Kopitiam. A simple, straightforward menu is stuck in front, with a simple stall set-up, just like any other burger stall. Take note of the last item on the burger list: The Master Burger (RM7.60).
THIS is what all burger Ramly specials should aspire be. It should be on a pin-up, a centrefold. It was obscenely good for a Ramly burger, completely betraying its low-brow image to transcend to a plane of deliciousness. Fantastic.