Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Black burgers made for viral popularity




Black burgers made for viral popularity

Charcoal gives the soft buns an almost-black veneer.
Charcoal gives the soft buns an almost-black veneer. Eli Meixler

Black burgers made for viral popularity

A Malaysian chain hits the sweet spot with its young target market, but leaves the pre-hashtag generation in the dark

MyBurgerLab is a case study in social media marketing. The Malaysian chain restaurant’s first Phnom Penh outlet devotes an entire board to Instagram photos of customers stuffing their faces with its signature black-bun burgers, and its Facebook page has more than 24,000 “likes”. Even the name is suspiciously hashtagable: when did spaces between words stop being a thing? It’s a strategy that targets young, middle-class urbanites and it so far seems to be working a treat in Phnom Penh. However, the food may not appeal to all.

The canteen-like space – which opened on Norodom Boulevard last month – has stuck to the script in replicating the metropolitan vibe of similar chains abroad. Furnishings are industrial and an exposed brick wall almost gives the room an artisanal finish – were it not for the slogan “EAT. SLEEP. BE AWESOME. REPEAT” emblazoned in giant letters across it.

The menu’s defining feature is its black burgers – a look achieved by adding small amounts of charcoal powder to the dough. It’s an aesthetic that calls out to be photographed and posted online, but the reality is less exciting – the buns are a bit sugary and foam-like, with little bite on the crust.

The patties, on the other hand, are of a far higher quality than what you would expect from a fast food joint. The chips are also excellent – opt for the “sloppy fries” at no extra cost and you’ll get them served with a hearty portion of chicken “sloppy joe” on top.

Whether you enjoy your meal as a whole will probably depend on how much of a sweet tooth you have. The pulled pork we tried was crammed with sweet red cabbage and apple slices, while the “Hangover” was topped with a hash brown and drenched in maple sauce. I’m not sure whether it would cure me following a night of heavy drinking, and I am unlikely to find out as the doors only open at 4pm.

Food is not cheap – sets with chips and a drink come in at the $7-$8 mark – but the bustling tables at MyBurgerLab on Tuesday night indicated that they have avoided pricing a local crowd out of the market.

It’s easy to see why people are flocking to the place – and giving it so much social media love. Staff are friendly (they’re already greeting certain customers with waves of recognition), tables are spacious, and soda refills are
limitless – a rarity in Phnom Penh.

Whether it will become your standard drop-in probably depends on your age, and whether you find “#eggporn FTW” enticing. If you do, we’ve found your culinary Mecca – it’s conveniently situated just south of the Caltex petrol station on Norodom Boulevard.

MyBurgerLab is located at #160b Norodom Boulevard.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hungarian exposes 90 to Covid in Siem Reap

    The Ministry of Health has discovered 90 people who have been exposed directly or indirectly to a Hungarian man infected with Covid-19. They all are required to quarantine at home and the hospital. The ministry is searching for other affected people. Among the 90, one is the

  • PM warns of ‘new Cold War’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the possibility of a so-called new Cold War has become a significant concern and that all countries have to reject outright, any attempt to allow history to tragically repeat itself. He made the remarks in a speech during 75th Session

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • ‘Bad news is an investor’s best friend’ – unlocking investment potential in Cambodia

    It is time to shop. Economic woes provide good pickings for investors if they know where to look The poem If, written by English Nobel laureate poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling for his son circa 1895, is widely perceived as fatherly advice for John who would

  • PM requests Russia’s Covid vaccine

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that Russia provide Cambodia with its Covid-19 vaccine after the former announced it planned on mass vaccinating its population next month. The request came on Thursday through the prime minister’s Facebook page as he met with Anatoly Borovik,

  • Cambodia, CRF win rice battle in EU Court

    The European General Court has rejected the European Commission’s (EC) request to reject a complaint submitted by Cambodia and the Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF) regarding the EU’s reintroduction of tariffs on Indica rice exports from Cambodia. A court order uploaded to the European