The Nasi Lemak burger at Mickey D’s: Succulent sandwich, or gimmicky garbage?

In a month-long period that saw not only the toppling of the Barisan Nasional coalition government that had ruled Malaysia since the country’s inception, but also the resignation of Arsene Wenger as Arsenal’s long-time head coach, it seemed like an appropriate time to throw tradition out the door, caution to the wind, and some Gaviscon down our throats.

The time has come: After a 25-year-long abstinence period, Coconuts KL is back behind the linoleum counters of our local McDonald’s, and ordering a burger*.

And where else to experience a revelation than in our spiritual home: Bangsar’s 24-hour McDonald’s, the soon-to-be site of our born-again burger palate.

Apparently, a lot has changed since the last time we ate a burger at McD’s in ’93. We realize that some of this “new stuff” that astounded us during this recent visit is probably Y2K commonplace for the rest of you. Please excuse us for that.

As it turns out, Mickey D’s popularity has not waned since the years that Clinton was in office: The place was straight-up packed.

An electronic board met us (um, hi?). The last time we were in one of these, a human asked us what we wanted. It took us a minute to get our bearings and start interacting, man to machine.

As it were, that person taking your order is gone — but there are a lot more menu options, including something called a McFlurry Party (!).

The Big Mac (our childhood favorite) no longer seemed like the kind of culinary Goliath it had once been – we needed something more iconic, more 2018.

The Nasi Lemak burger (RM 14.95) was the chosen one – it was everything we were looking for – a kind of sandwich abomination that has no place anywhere else in the world but in a Malaysian McDonald’s.

Combining the flavors of Malaysia’s finest culinary breakfast creation: coconut rice, crispy ikan bilis (anchovies), spicy sambal, fresh cucumber, an egg, and our favorite addition — a side of early morning fried chicken — and making it all into a burger was something that was worth falling off the wagon for.

Yes, we’re aware that a similarly named McDonald’s burger made headlines in Singapore last year. About that: I don’t know her.

We went for the full monty: the nasi lemak burger combo meal, with fries, and Milo. We’re not here to play, and we’ve lived our lives by the adage: Go hard, or go home.

Tray in hand, and friend by our side to discuss the ins and outs of this bun’s life, we went to find a table.

But first, takeaway number one…. McDonald’s 2018 edition: The lighting is a lot better than we remembered it.

Unraveling our burger marvel, there are two things that we have to say right away. First, this sandwich looked as good as it does in the photo, and we’re not one to pay compliments easily. Also, this baby was fresh.

How fresh? The fried egg’s edges were still visibly crisp, the fried chicken breast straight from the fryer, the cucumber clean, gleaming, with nary the hint of a limp pickle. Many of our friends had commented that their experience with the burger was less than stellar, due to a soggy bun. We experienced none of this. Our bun was perfect: toasted, and lightly hugging the contents within.

The sambal looked hard on the onions, which isn’t always a bad thing; however, there was not an anchovy in sight to pay homage to the original breakfast, but to be fair, we’re not sure that’s necessarily appropriate in the given context.

Before we had it in our hands, we told our friend that we expected to only take a bite. We hadn’t eaten this fast food garbage in years and were convinced that our bodies were no longer up for it. Turns out, they were: We finished the whole damn thing.

The nasi lemak burger was everything that its appearance suggested — fresh and delicious. No single element overpowered the other, and the chicken itself was succulent, which isn’t always the case when you dress up poultry as a burger.

One thing — remember the onion-y sambal? Well, probably this burger’s weakest link, to be honest. A good sambal needs kick, and this sauce, because it’s no sambal (it’s sauce) was pussyfooting their way through our sandwich. It wasn’t terrible, but it also could not have been there. And we would have been happier for it.

McDonald’s: If you’re gonna call it sambal, at least give it the zing.

A little DIY dip of McDonald’s chili sauce (WOW WOW WOW, Is it just us, or is this better than Lingham’s?) made it more tolerable, but we would have liked to have seen this superior sauce in the sandwich itself. The other elements were so good, that so-called sambal was kind of a letdown to the whole experience.

Onto the fries: Ugh. Look, it’s not that we don’t love a good fry or 70, but we just cannot get our hearts to accept such a thin chip. Where is the flavor? Where is the potato?

We know this opinion is about as popular as Malaysia’s former PM Najib, but McDonald’s fries are the worst. Please, make way and room in our stomach, for thicc chips only. Don’t try to fool us with your MSG seasonings, either — we see past all the smoke and mirrors, and all that’s left behind the facade is the vestige of a potato. TAK NAK (don’t want).

Milo: Was there anything more perfect than the Milo mix at McDonald’s? Oh wait, the Milo mix at your local mamak. This never gets old. We got another on the way out, while we contemplated if there was time between tea and dinner to have that McFlurry party.

*Full disclosure: Coconuts KL loves McFlurries and will eat one anytime, anywhere, at any cost, and has been doing so all their lives. This review, however, is limited to burgers, and value-meal related items.

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