Friday, July 27, 2012

McDonald's Japan International Burgers (product info.)

I'm on the fence about how I feel about fast food places incorporating what appear to be higher class ingredients into their offerings. On the one hand, it's kind of nice that they want to mix things up a bit. On the other, they almost always dumb things down in such a way that they're not really all that one might expect. I've read far too many reviews of sauces which are little more than mayonnaise mixed with some core ingredient to simulate an international flavor without straying too far from what a pedestrian palate will tolerate. We want our fast food to be only marginally more interesting than what we're used to because nobody goes to McDonald's for adventurous cuisine, not even the Japanese, who generally will tolerate a wider flavor range than the average American. 

In the case of McDonald's international burger options, they're offering the following:

All images from the McDonald's Japan web site.

Le Grand Tomato:
A beef patty on ciabatta bread (which is Italian, not French, right?) with mozzarella cheese (again, Italian), gravy, butter sauce, lettuce and tomato. This burger seems slightly more on the international side, or at least it suffers from a bit of a nationality identity crisis.

Le Gran Sausage:
A beef patty on ciabatta bread with mozzarella, mustard sauce, and sausage (German?) with the requisite lettuce and tomato.

These sandwiches are currently available and were introduced on July 18. 

Hot Gold Masala:
A bun topped with cornmeal houses a crispy chicken patty with tomato, lettuce, onion, cheese, and a spicy curry sauce.

Mild Gold Masala:
This is the same bun with a mild curry sauce flavored with honey and a mayo chutney. What was that I said about the special sauces just being something mixed with mayo?  However, McDonald's recommends this for chili wusses. (These sandwiches haven't been introduced yet and will be available from August 2.)

Aussie Deli:
Aussie beef pastrami on a bun that has been steamed to plump it up. Yellow mustard, possibly with stone ground seeds, is added to boost the flavor profile.

Cheese Aussie Deli:
The same as the aforementioned sandwich, but, with, you know, a slice of cheese. (These sandwiches haven't been introduced yet and will be available from August 3.)

Chicken nuggets with basil sauce:

Your favorite chicken-like product with mayonnaise mixed with basil. (Introduced on July 18 and currently available.)

Chicken nuggets with curry sauce:

And the same thing mixed with curry. I must admit that I would actually buy this if they served the nuggets on a silver tray as pictured here. (To be introduced in August)

Any time that an international version of any food is introduced, it's a reflection of a foreign country's perception of another country's cuisine as well as their own tastes. In America, anything labeled "French" which is not a fry would be served on a croissant or a baguette. In Japan, I'm guessing ciabatta bread is the closest they can come to something which isn't a regular burger bun which is easy to store and handle (and cheap to produce). The inclusion of sausage and mozzarella cheese on the French sandwich mystifies me, but I am a dumb American with little exposure to true French cuisine. It's all butter, long loaves of crusty goodness, cold potato soup, and pastries to me. For all I know, mozzarella is the national cheese of France (though I would've expected it to be brie) and they are sausage sucking fiends (read into that what you like).

The Australian option reminds me of Arby's, except without the American beef option. As I've mentioned before, the whole mad cow scare was amplified to the point where the dial was definitely at "11" in Japan so the local consumers don't feel comfortable with cows that were born in the U.S.A. The Fukushima situation has them none too thrilled with the idea of native beef, but they have strong confidence in not being somehow poisoned by cows that like to add a "y" to the end of most of their words (choccy, prezzy, grundies, etc.).

All in all, I would not be compelled to buy fast food because of these new options, though if I already had a hankering for something, I might try one of these out. If I were even slightly tempted, I'd want to try the hot gold masala, if only because it sounds like slang for a disgusting sex act. ;-)


Dustin said...

This is hilarious! I'd try the gold masala too. Although I suspect it wouldn't have a kick to it at all since the Japanese don't like anything spicy.

Orchid64 said...

I suspect you are absolutely right about there not being a kick. There are hot and spicy foods in Japan, but they don't cater to the masses. Thanks for commenting!

miyazaki said...

I saw that they have hot dogs at McDonald's in Japan, God only knows what they'd think of with that...

Orchid64 said...

Of course, hot dogs are for breakfast in Japan! ;-)

gossip_bangkok said...

I had the Gold Masala last week. I was quite surprised that the burger was a bit more spicier than I thought it would.

Orchid64 said...

Thanks for sharing, gossip_bangkok. Did you like the burger? :-)

gossip_bangkok said...

@Orchid64: I actually like it, but then, I would rather stick to my usual juicy chicken burger. :) If I do have the opportunity to try the French version, I will let you know how it goes.

Lisa said...

It's funny that they put pastrami in an Aussie burger, it seems such an American thing. What our version of Burger King used to call the Aussie burger had bacon, an egg and beetroot on top of the usual ingredients. A huge mouthful but very good!