Let me begin by stating that this is not a sponsored article.
McDonald’s has had its fair share of terrible items, but the nasi lemak burger is not one of them.
In fact, it is great.
And I’ll tell you why it’s great.
Rice bun debate
But first, here’s a little background on why I even started writing an article to defend the burger.
When the nasi lemak burger was first launched in 2017, some people argued that it would have been better with rice buns instead of the usual burger buns.
This is what a rice bun looks like (I know it's from MOS Burger, but this is just for reference okay):
I shook my head in disbelief at those comments.
Now in 2019, with the nasi lemak burger back in stores, people are at it again with the rice bun comments.
And two years later, I’m still shaking my head in disbelief.
I'll say it again in case the headline isn't clear enough: The nasi lemak burger does not need rice buns.
Other nasi lemak ingredients are important too
Now, I know nasi means rice, and yes, rice is an essential part of the dish.
But there are also other ingredients that make a nasi lemak, a nasi lemak.
Egg, chicken, otah, fish, sambal, etc.
And the thing is, the most important ingredient in a nasi lemak is different for everyone.
Some might not be able to accept a nasi lemak without some spicy sambal, while some might say it's not a nasi lemak without a perfectly fried ikan kuning.
There are loads of variations out there, and it's impossible to condense all the ingredients into a single version that everyone would agree with.
But for a fast food version, McDonald's nasi lemak burger is a pretty well-executed one.
This is what fusion is about
The nasi lemak burger was never meant to be a proper representation of nasi lemak.
It was always meant to be fusion food -- The lovechild of nasi lemak and burger. Equal DNA from both parents.
Therefore, as much as the it needs elements of the well-loved rice dish, it also needs elements of a burger.
If it had rice buns instead of burger buns, it would lose much of its burger-ness, and just become a compressed nasi lemak.
Perhaps something like this:
No doubt still delicious, but definitely not a nasi lemak burger (sorry colleagues).
But yeah, this is basically what those rice bun enthusiasts are asking for. Where is the innovation, might I ask?
What's the point of creating a nasi lemak burger in the first place? Why don't we just buy a packet of nasi lemak and stack it up vertically then?
With the bread buns as its source of carbohydrate, the nasi lemak burger is telling the world, "Hey, let's not forget the burger side of my heritage."
Reinvented coconut taste
As for the coconut rice in nasi lemak, McDonald's spin on it comes in the form of the coconut-flavoured chicken patty.
Now, before you launch into a "WTF, a coconut-flavoured chicken is nothing compared to the coconut rice that holds HiStOriCal significance in the HiStOry of nasi lemak hIstOry" speech, remember that this is fusion food, and is not supposed to be 100 percent like any of its predecessor.
Also, since the coconut taste is already in the chicken, a coconut rice bun would probably be quite overpowering.
Let's be more open to fusion food
Fusion food is super common these days.
And if you think about it, a lot of food are a mishmash of different cultures.
Take the Bánh mì for example, a Vietnamese-French hybrid that was invented in the 1950s.
It is a party of ingredients from both types of cuisine -- Pickled carrot, pickled radish, coriander, Chả lụa (pork sausage) from its Vietnamese side, and baguette, Pâté, and mayonnaise from its French side.
It might sound like a crazy combination, but it's a combination that has won the hearts of many.
One that has made it as an internationally-loved sandwich.
While the nasi lemak burger might never have its own Wikipedia page, it is a dish that deserves to be loved as it is, burger buns and all.
So please stop bun-shaming it.
Top photo collage by Olivia Lin