Mike Chen Tries All the Burgers at Whataburger; A Story of Love & Zapped Redemption

Even a filter can't save this guy.
Even a filter can't save this guy. Lauren Drewes Daniels
Over the past six months or so food vlogger Mike Chen, who moved to North Texas from Washington, has traversed the state digging into our vast culinary landscape. He has more than 1.4 million followers on his YouTube channel, StrictlyDumpling, where he documents his travels and feasts in a lighthearted and affable way. It's been fun watching him line up in the cold rain for Snow's BBQ in Lexington and eat his weight in Buc-ee’s fare.

In a recent video, he explains that he’s in a relationship and is leaving Dallas for Chicago. Before heading out of town Chen spent his last day doing what Chen is wont to do: eating. For his Texas swan song, he ordered the entire menu of burgers at Whataburger and took them home and tried every single one, offering commentary on each.

Some called Chen out for disparaging comments about Whataburger, but most of his comments seemed fair and, in the end, he professed his adoration for the Texas burger chain.

No matter how much we admire Whataburger, any regular customer has at some point waited forever only to receive a tepid, uninspired burger. The food can be hit and miss. You may even have specific Whataburgers you go to and others you avoid.
Alas, Chen's Whataburger grazing event started out rough. He ordered in the drive-thru and took the food home where his unwrapped burgers looked "lifeless" and a chicken finger sandwich was dry and “looked like the crypt keeper's lunch.”

A viewer offered a bit of insight into Chen's error in the comment section of the video.

Snavels explained, “I've worked at Whataburger and unfortunately due to the nature of how we actually make orders, getting large orders like this is setting yourself up for disappointment. We cannot make more than 2 at one time so any burgers made will be put wrapped and just sit there until the rest of the order is made.”

Snavels recommends late-night orders because everything will likely be made-to-order.

But Chen is heat savvy and started popping his food in the microwave, zapping the burgers back to life. Things improved quickly, "infinitely better," in fact. Warm gooey cheese and grease can fix a lot of things. Chen savored a mushroom burger and swooned over a jalapeño cheeseburger. He similarly raved about a reheated pico de gallo burger and an avocado bacon burger. Hungry yet?

The real question is how do you even take two bites of every burger on the menu at Whataburger — plus a shake, an apple pie, French fries, pancakes and a cinnamon roll — and not dissolve into a pudding of misery after an hour. He's an Iron Man-level eater.

He wasn't done with Dallas just yet though. He broke to pack his girlfriend's furniture into his car (must be love) and then went to dinner at the food court at Central Legacy Plaza in Plano. Restaurants in this space include LJ Kitchen, Morefan, CMF Express, Mansasung, FULLL Boba Tea, Hakka Express (Taiwanese) and Sokongdong Tofu House.

It's hard to discern which dish he gets from which place, but he had a tomato and egg noodle soup, bao and dumplings. He loved it all, particularly the "amazing" dumplings. Chen left Texas with a bit of regret, “Kicking myself that I didn’t come here before.” So, if you're a Strictly Dumpling fan, add Central Legacy food court to your to-eat list.

Honestly, we're sad to see him go. But he's in Chicago now, and we know where to look for foodie tips next time we head that way. 
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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.