Jet black charcoal buns, juicy meat patties that ooze pure flavours, unique combinations of toppings that no one thought of putting into a burger up till then – when myBurgerLabopened in the unlikely Petaling Jaya suburb of Seapark in 2012, where they sold out on the very first day and changed the way we ate burgers. Four years, three more outlets and a joint venture in Cambodia later, the lines are still long on any given evening but the turnaround is quick, the service is friendly, and the burgers continue to elicit oohs and ahhs.
The team behind the phenomenon constantly innovate new ways to let everyone savour their favourite sandwich. With more than 20 options on the current menu and a ‘secret menu’ of by-request-only variants, even regulars face a happy dilemma each time they visit. But most will tell you if there is one burger you must try, it is the Ultraman, a bounty of fried chicken thigh topped with a salted egg yolk buttermilk sauce infused with cili padi and curry leaves. It’s so popular that pre-ordering is advised to avoid disappointment.
myBurgerLab’s first outlet at Seapark, Petaling Jaya
Does it live up to the hype? Burger lovers in Penang can check it out for themselves when myBurgerLab pops up in George Town for the very first time this month during Muntri Fest 2016(27 & 28 August 2016). We speak to Ng Kah Fai, myBurgerLab’s Operation Manager to find out what they have in store for Penang.
Why Penang and why now?
Since we opened, we’ve been focusing on the Klang Valley but we’ve always wanted to tap into the Penang market. So when the organisers of Muntri Fest approached us about doing a pop-up, we said yes. It’s a great opportunity for us to test the market and hopefully, eventually open an outlet there.
Where will the pop-up be and what’s on the menu?
We’re taking over 44 Muntri for the entire weekend of the festival, and will be introducing two of our burgers: The Ultraman, and the Shroom Bomb. The latter consists of a whole fried Portabella topped with Swiss cheese, shiitake and enoki mushrooms.
Why did you decide on these two, and only two?
We created Ultraman to cater to the salted egg craze in the Klang Valley and it is still our bestselling burger, so we want to give Penang folks a taste of it. Shroom Bomb, on the other hand, is a safe bet as mushrooms are generally popular. We decided to pare down the selection to just two to ensure that the quality will be up to mark and consistent, which is our main priority. The prices will be the same as in the Klang Valley.
Ultraman promises to be a treat for lovers of salted eggs
Is there a signature burger?
Initially we thought we did, but then we realised that each of our burgers has its own fan base. Our flavours are unique, and different people like different ones. Take our Jammin With Elvis for example (Cheddar beef patty slathered with peanut butter and jelly) – you either love it or hate it!
You guys roll out new burgers all the time, what’s the creation process like and do you have a big R&D team?
There are just two people handling the R&D – our Managing Director and co-founder Ren Yi and Jeremy Lee, who is also our Marketing Manager. The rest of us are the guinea pigs! One of the things that help us decide what new creations to come up with next is to watch the trends. We have also created burgers for special occasions, such as the Tiffin Throwdown at this year’s Taste of Tiffin where our Umami Bomb beat nine other burgers to win both the People’s Choice and Judges’ Choice awards. We’re always tweaking our burgers anyway, even after they’ve hit the market. The Ultraman, for example, was into its third version within a week-and-a-half of its release. That’s why we are called a Lab!
You’ve used charcoal buns from the beginning and for all your burgers, any plans to innovate that too?
When we started, as a pop-up at Red Bean Bag in Publika, we used regular buns. Then we thought of charcoal buns as a gimmick. We got lucky, it’s worked out very well for us. A lot of people refer to us as “the ones with the black buns” so we’re happy to stick to them for the time being.
Jammin with Elvis plays on the King’s love for peanut butter and jelly
Besides unique burgers, what do you think is key to myBurgerLab’s success?
Good food, good service, reasonable prices – we started with those in mind and have kept to the same approach. We believe that if we offer good value and good burgers, people will always come back.
You’re currently four outlet-strong; any more coming up?
Our fifth outlet in the Klang Valley will open by end of 2016. In September, we will commence a weekend pop-up at APW Bangsar.
What are your expectations for Penang?
We’re very excited to pop up at Muntri Fest and serve the people there. We’re targeting to move about 1,000 burgers that weekend.
myBurgerLab will be in Penang during Muntri Fest as part of 44 Muntri’s Pop-Up Series from 27 to 28 August, with a special preview on 26 August from 5pm to 11pm.