But the burgers we enjoy today have come a long way from just a piece of meat slapped between two buns. In Southeast Asia, chefs have continued to experiment with flavours and ideas, swapping perky buns for bao and rice cakes, even transforming local breakfast staples into burgers.
24K Golden Burger
This ultra-luxe offering from Thailand’s Karrat, with a 24K gold leaf-encrusted top bun, takes the humble fast food standard to glittering heights.
Aside from its shimmering countenance, this burger showcases a meltingly tender Kagoshima A5 wagyu beef patty topped with sharp cheddar cheese.
If that’s not already a mouthful, the list of premium ingredients continues with seared foie gras, a generous slather of champagne truffle sauce and, to balance all that indulgence, pickled cucumbers.
Almost too precious to eat, the 24K Golden Burger joins Karrat’s line of 24K gold leaf-covered desserts that include gilded donuts and macarons.
Triple Naked Krispy Monyeng
Like the name suggests, this East Malaysian entry is no ordinary burger, and wolfing down this epic stack will require considerable jaw flexibility.
The Triple Naked Krispy Monyeng from Don’s Burger in Miri, Sarawak’s second city, is perfect for meat lovers who are craving a juicy burger but don’t care for the bun portion.
This over-the-top burger features three thick boneless chicken thighs fried to a crisp crunch stacked on top one another, slathered in melty cheese and Monyeng’s signature sauce spiked with Sarawak black pepper.
As if that’s not enough, for added meatiness, the burger is scattered with ground beef.
Monyeng is Sarawakian slang for “messy”, and they’re not kidding. There’s really no tidy way to eat this burger, so don’t even try.
Pak Nasser’s Nasi Lemak Burger
Nasi lemak – coconut milk-infused rice served with sambal chilli paste, a hard-boiled egg, cucumber slices, fried peanuts and crunchy anchovies – is undoubtedly the breakfast of champions in Malaysia.
Santan’s Pak Nasser’s Nasi Lemak Burger, essentially a hunk of deep-fried batter-coated chicken thigh sandwiched between fluffy coconut milk buns, pays homage to this beloved national dish.
To begin, a chicken thigh is soaked in buttermilk infused with aromatics before frying to ensure the meat stays juicy on the inside and crisp outside.
Mirroring the flavours of Santan’s signature nasi lemak, creamy peanut butter is slathered on the bottom bun and studded with a sprinkling of fried anchovies, while additional toppings of pickled cucumber, sweet onion sambal and rendang sauce up the flavour quotient.
A sunny-side up egg with a runny yolk completes the delicious package.
Chili Krab Burg
The Singapore outpost of VeganBurg, an American fast food joint that is completely plant-based, prides itself on its range of burgers inspired by popular local eats, from satay to dal.
But nothing screams Singapore more than its Chili Krab Burg, an Earth-friendly burger that riffs on the iconic seafood dish.
VeganBurg’s best-selling burger stars a konjac “crab meat” patty that has a crisp exterior but is fluffy on the inside.
The vegan patty is complemented by farm fresh romaine lettuce, and house-made chilli crab sauce made from rempah (spice paste) spiked with bird’s eye chillies, red chillies and ginger.
Artisanal fibre-rich wholemeal buns complete this healthy and addictively spicy package.
According to airasia.com