If you’re a foodie who dreams of eating at Michelin and Zagat rated establishments, perhaps you’ve also fantasized about saying to the Maitre d’ at a fancy restaurant, “Can I speak with the chef? I’d like to thank him/her for a superb meal.” Granted, such a dining situation may not come up very often, but what you may be able to do more easily instead is to order “whatever the chef’ recommends.”
And that’s exactly what our RocketNews24 Japan staff decided to do at a series of restaurants, the first one being none other than…McDonald’s! Now, we’d like to think that all people working in a kitchen, whatever the type of restaurant, actually want to serve tasty food, and to that end would likely have a definite opinion on what they would most like customers to try. So, asking for the chef’s recommendation should result in a more than satisfying meal, right? Well, we were certainly excited to find out what the recommendation would be at one of the world’s best-known fast food chains!
The idea behind our project is simple. We order “whatever the chef recommends” and ask the reason for the recommendation. But since we didn’t want to cause any disruption by going into the kitchen and having the chef come out, we decided we would settle for a recommendation by any staff with experience cooking at the shop.
Now that our mission was set, we paid a visit to a McDonald’s in Tokyo, making sure to arrive at a time of day when the restaurant wouldn’t be too crowded, as we expected our order may take a little time for the staff to deal with. The employee at the counter was a young lady in her twenties, and just as planned, we placed our order by saying, “We’d like whatever the chef recommends.”
The lady taking our order appeared a bit confused at first (and we can’t really blame her, poor girl). When we repeated our order, another member of the staff, this time a young man with a bright smile who also appeared to be in his early twenties, came out to deal with our order. To our delight, we found out that he has experience working in the kitchen. Perfect! We immediately asked for his recommendation.
In reply to our inquiry, he told us smoothly, “If you haven’t tried it yet, I would recommend the Loco Moco Burger that’s now available for a limited time. It’s been quite well-received by customers.” Well, we couldn’t argue with that recommendation. The Loco Moco Burger it would be!
▼ The Loco Moco Burger recommended by the chef, offered for a limited time as part of McDonald’s Hawaiian campaign:
▼ The burger with the egg and Loco Moco gravy was indeed tasty.
Since we wanted to make this a complete meal, we then asked what drink would go well with the burger. The young man again gave us an efficient reply saying, “The Loco Moco Burger is quite American in taste, so I would recommend an American drink like Coke or Sprite. Between the two, Sprite would seem to have more of a ‘Hawaiian’ taste and might be the better match.” We have to say we were thoroughly impressed with the man’s professional answer!
▼ The recommended drink was Sprite.
We also asked what other side item would go well with our meal, and the young man, who by this point had won our respect, told us, “The apple pie, to add a bit of tropical flavor, should be nice.” Naturally, we followed his recommendation without hesitation and ordered the apple pie. The recommended selection on the whole was well-balanced and seemed to make perfect sense as a combination. Our hats were completely off to him!
▼ To complete the meal, we ordered an Apple Pie for some tropical fruitiness.
▼ As we enjoyed our apple pie, we couldn’t help but be impressed by the thoughtful recommendation we were given.
So, as of March 2015, the chef’s recommendation at a McDonald’s in Tokyo consisted of a Loco Moco Burger meal with a Sprite and apple pie. When we actually tried the combination, the barbecue-flavored sauce in the Loco Moco Burger packed quite a punch and mixed very well with the refreshing taste of Sprite.
▼ Here’s what the chef’ at McDonald’s recommended — and the explanations for the recommendations were convincing indeed!
Of course, this is just what one chef at the McDonald’s we happened to visit suggested, and the recommendation wouldn’t be the same at all McDonald’s, but in this instance, we were definitely satisfied with the answers we received. Times haven’t exactly been easy for McDonald’s Japan which has been suffering from scandals and declining sales, but our experience ordering the chef’s recommendation went a long way toward restoring our faith in the fast food giant. We hope we can enjoy many more well-matched combination meals from McDonald’s in the future, and we also look forward to trying the chef’s recommendation at other joints as well!