(That Thing I Do)

Pork Burger @ Cristang Restaurant

When it comes to burgers, Malaysians tend to gravitate to either one of two schools of preference.

On the left, we have the church of Ramly . These are the people who swear by the pure simple goodness that is the Ramly burger. A Ramly burger patty has more fat (by weight) than it does protein. That’s before soaking it with copious amounts of cooking oil, margerine, and/or mayonnaise.  But who cares? It’s yummy, it’s cheap, and it’s everywhere!

On the right, we have the beef purists. These are the people who cringe at the idea of a burger that’s not pure beef, and served with cabbage and ridiculous amounts of condiments. Sure, these burgers usually come at a more premium price, but that’s to be expected of something so fine.

Then there are those who can’t care less, and think a burger is a burger and just wanna eat.

Not me, though. I like to think of myself as a free thinker of the burger-eaters. Yes, I like them all, but not without a deep appreciation of each type of burger. And so my love for burgers has led to seek out the famed pork burgers at Cristang Restaurant.

One of the many nice touches in table setting of Cristang Restaurant

“Cristang” actually refers to the Portuguese people of Malacca, which both the owner and myself incidentally are. This fact automatically means that I’d be at least semi-familiar with some of the items on the menu. Indeed, looking through the menu, it was almost like a checklist of foods that I just had to try, either out of familiarity or curiosity. Well, mostly I gotta find out if he can cook better than my mum! I’ll shy my focus away from everything but the burgers on this review. I’ll certainly make my rounds on another visit to attack the plethora of authentic portuguese cuisine served here. Who better to judge than a fellow Cristang and ardent foodie?

One of the simpler burgers – pork bacon, pork patty, and cheese.

Being my first taste at Cristang’s famed pork burgers, I decided to go with one of the more basic varieties. Uninterestingly called the “P2 burger” (all their burgers are named numerically), this is just a step above the P1 burger, which is the same thing but without the pork bacon. It’s also one of the cheaper burgers at RM19.80+ (the P1 is priced at RM16.80+).

My initial visual impression: the burger wasn’t as big as I’m used to getting for the price. It wasn’t small. It just wasn’t the jumbo beef burger that I’m used to (and usually have trouble finishing). However, I was very pleased when I noticed that the burger did not come with your standard fries. No, the owner Gerald wouldn’t dare mar his masterpiece with the taint of  mediocrity. Instead, all burgers are served with Cristang Cajun potato wedges. If you’re first thoughts drift towards the ever-popular KFC potato wedges, well, these are better. Far more tender and flavorful. Sure, there’s no artificial cheese, but these are gently flavored with what I think is thyme (correct me if I’m wrong, I didn’t ace my herbology class). I am ashamed to admit that I insulted the perfect cuts of potatoes by eating them with *gasp* chili sauce!

The pork patty is where the money-shot is. It’s just firm enough to give it enough bite and chunk, while leaving plenty of room for all the sweet succulent flavor. I’ve never tasted pork this juicy. It’s so juicy, it’s hard to believe it can still maintain from crumbling after biting into it! The problem with pork patties is that if you overcook it, it dries up; but if you don’t cook it enough, it’s just gonna crumble to pieces. I don’t know how Gerald managed to cheat the rules of pork, but my taste-buds are very pleased with his work! The rich cheddar cheese (my tongue tells me it’s not the cheap Australian variety, though I may be mistaken) perfectly complements the light sweetness of the pork and gives it that smooth texture that makes it that much more of a joy to savor.

One observation, which surprises me, is that I could actually eat this burger by holding down between the buns – without creating a mess. Most of the time, my burger will be in pieces, but this one managed to stay in one piece. Credit probably goes to the slightly smaller size, but something tells me it’s yet another magical feat by Gerald.

Cristang’s pork burger is a fine display of how much care is put into their menu. And it shows in their attention to detail and the little things. They serve iced water with a wedge of lemon. It’s not a big deal. Heck, it’s not even necessary. But it’s that little extra touch to make something just that much better, which exemplifies Cristang’s commitment to culinary perfection. It even shows in their decor of the place.

Festive decor for the Christmas season.

Tea light arrangement around a flower centrepiece

Oh, and they also hold their service levels to the same high standards. I managed to create a mess by exploding a bottle of chili sauce (it wasn’t my fault, the opening was jammed) on the table and my plate. Not only did they promptly and thoroughly clean it (some places would just wipe it once, not twice like the way it should be done), they also offered to set my plate again so I didn’t have to eat my burger with an ugly spot of chili sauce on it. Maybe Gerald’s just OCD , I don’t know.

Cristang Restaurant is located at 8 Avenue along Jalan Sungai Jernih (8/1) in PJ. It’s not visible from the road, so park nearby or inside the compound of Avenue 8 itself (it looks like a pay-to-park area, I parked further down the road because I overshot it). Walk inside to Block B and you should see it. It’s not obvious, due to the unassuming signage, but you should be able to spot it by the crowd you see. You’ll need a fair bit of luck to get a table if you’re a walk-in customer (I got lucky).

Cristang Restaurant is located in 8 Avenue.

A typical weekday night scene outside Cristang Restaurant.

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