As we recently reported, McDonald’s has made the crushing decision to end the sale of its medium and large size fries. The controversial decision was made due to fears of a potato shortage, meaning that the days of gleefully ordering obnoxiously large amounts of fries with reckless abandon are now well and truly over. The potato cull prompted several Twitter users to head to McDonald’s for one last order of M and L size greasy, salty fries, in order to document their “last meal” for posterity.
I’m heading back to the U.S. for a couple of days at the end of the year, and as much as I love Japan, it’ll be nice to spend some time doing things I can’t here. Aside from seeing family and friends, I’m looking forward to watching a college bowl game or two, plus soaking up some warm January sunshine, which tends to be much more plentiful in California than Kanagawa Prefecture.
And as long as I’m making a list of things you can’t do in Japan, I should probably add getting a large batch of French fries at McDonald’s, since, for the time being, the chain will only be selling small sizes of spuds in Japan.
2014 has not been a stellar year for McDonald’s Japan. The tainted chicken scandal of midyear rocked the fast-food chain so much that it’s core audience of netizens decried every offering since. It wasn’t for lack of trying as they hauled out some alternative tofu nuggets only to float back to chicken nuggets offered for free. The company then tried offering the sophisticated taste of mushroom risotto balls and a tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet) burger with sauce selected by a nationwide search.
However, all of these efforts fell on deaf ears and itchy typing fingers hammering out comments such as “Never again” and “It’s too easy to see they’re fine with using dodgy meat.” It had gotten to the point that you might think Japan had turned its collective back on McDonald’s forever, but as the New Year’s song goes: Should old acquaintance be forgot?
Maybe so as McDonald’s Japan’s latest offering has been getting a relatively warm response, and all it took was a little crabbiness.
Hello Kitty has been quite the busy cat celebrating her 40th birthday. Earlier this year, she was making rounds at theatres in Japan dressed as characters from Rurouni Kenshin, and now she has crossed the ocean to make an appearance at McDonald’s in Korea. This time, she’s cosplaying as some of her fellow Sanrio mates. Check out the cute kitty after the jump!
It’s been a pretty rough year for McDonald’s in Japan, in the same way that getting hit by a bus on your way to work would make for a rough morning. Following a widely reported scandal in which the chain had been supplied with expired chicken by a meat processing facility in China, McDonald’s has been trying everything it can think of to lure diners back, such as giving away Chicken McNuggets for free, replacing the meat with tofu, and trying to take our mind off the incident entirely by pulling our attention towards pork cutlets instead.
After all, a restaurant chain can’t survive without customers, right? There’s one other thing you need to run a business though: employees, and these days McDonald’s is finding itself losing those, too.
If you’ve been living under a rock for the past year or two, you might have missed a significant change taking place in Japanese popular culture. What are we talking about? Why, adorable collectible monster franchise Youkai Watch, of course! The Youkai Watch series, which comprises manga, anime and video games has been steadily and skilfully easing itself onto the comfy throne once monopolized by Pokémon. Kids are going crazy for it, adults are being driven crazy over it, and poor old Pikachu and pals are being seriously left in the dust. Now, Youkai Watch has pulled off another victory over Pokémon by stealing its role as McDonald’s go-to calendar star.
Back in May, McDonald’s Japan unleashed the Tonkatsu McBurger highlighting Japan’s ubiquitous piece of breaded meat, the tonkatsu (deep-fried pork cutlet). Although it didn’t entirely win us over against Mos Burger’s tonkatsu burger when it first came out, the masses were pleased and cleaned out the burger chain of supplies before the Tonkatsu McBurger was scheduled to finish.
Due to that success McDonald’s will bring back the Tonkatsu McBurger but planned an added feature for its inauguration into the regular menu across Japan – a truly special moment in any sandwich’s life. This addition is an elaborately created sauce promising to heighten its flavor to a whole new level. But is it enough to win back customers lost after this summer’s chicken scandal?
Recently, we brought you the news that McDonald’s Japan is offering free chicken nuggets in a bid to restore consumer good will in the wake of the “Chickengate” scandal. As reported, expired Chinese chicken found its way into a range of fast food eateries’ products, sparking public fears of food poisoning. We’ve been curious as to how many people jumped at the chance for free but potentially tainted nuggets, (although McDonald’s Japan has now switched their chicken supplier from China to Thailand) and how many decided to steer clear. Luckily for us, Livedoor has conducted a survey of 1,000 participants to see how many would be willing to cash in a free chicken coupon. The results are… kind of a mix.
So, usually when it comes to burgers in Japan, we prefer to let the talented burger artists at famous fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s, Burger King and especially Lotteria do their thing – because it usually results in crazy squid ink burgers, nine-patty monstrosities, and other 6th grade science experiment-esque monstrosities.
But McDonald’s has slowly been unveiling a tech- and customer-savvy new way of dealing burgers with its limited run of “Create a Burger” options at select stores.
For a while it seemed that things had quieted down over at Japan’s largest online auction site, Yahoo! Japan Auctions. Back in the day one used to be able to buy anything from idols to 1,000 NES systems (at once) to the planet Earth.
However, recently there has just been a bunch of stuff like clothes and furniture to be had, and what fun is that? Thankfully, someone has brought the crazy back by auctioning off a truly rare item.
It’s a McDonald’s french fry in the shape of the number one and bidding starts at 10,000 yen (US$93).
Living in Japan, we realize we’re pretty blessed when it comes to special burgers and cool comic book fast food tie-ins. But while we’re deeply grateful for our black burgers and giant-sized Attack on Titan French fry buckets, today, we’re not hiding our envy of Hong Kong’s fast food scene, since right now, that’s the only place where you can get a Batman Burger.
Most of us have probably heard of the weird questions people get at top-paying tech companies like Google, Apple, Facebook and, whatever, Chia Pet or something. You know what we’re talking about: “How many toilets do you think are in San Francisco?,” “If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?,” “Why is a tennis ball fuzzy?,” and, of course, “Why did you sleep with my sister and did you really think you’d get away with it?” (Just me?)
But we bet the last place you’d probably expect to get one of these abstract, no-right-answer kind of logic puzzle questions would be, say, an interview for a part-time job flipping burgers at McDonald’s, right?
Have you ever wondered what the equivalent of the phrase, “as American as apple pie,” would be in other countries? For other nations, what widely loved dessert produces that same mixture of traditional comfort and nostalgia?
For Japan, you could make a strong case for anko, or sweet red beans, which show up in all manner of snacks and sweets. As we’ve talked about before, anko makes everything better, and it’s about to do the same for the Golden Arches, as McDonald’s Japan is about to start selling anko pies.
It’s been just over a week since the release of Burger King’s two pitch-black hamburgers, which might have left some fast food fans in a bit of a bind. On the one hand, they’re definitely eye-catching and intriguing, but their buns owe (and cheese) their sinister shade to an infusion of bamboo charcoal.
While it’s perfectly edible, we imagine some people are just a tad averse to eating charcoal. So if your palate isn’t quite that wide, but you’re still adventurous enough to eat squid ink, McDonald’s has got you covered with their own dark burger.
Last weekend, McDonald’s Japan launched a new Happy Meal, or “happy set” as they’re known here. As with all of the fast food giant’s kid-centric food boxes, these sets come bundled with a gift guaranteed to appeal to children so much that they’ll bug their parents incessantly to take them to the Golden Arches.
This time, however, the bundled gift was a little bit more special than usual, with McDonald’s securing a deal to offer sets of arcade cards for anime sensation Yo-Kai Watch. While that name not (yet) mean much to anime and Happy Meal fans in the West, this collaboration pretty much allows McDonald’s Japan to print money, and there were lines out of the door at dozens of locations from the moment the sets went on sale.
If we’ve learnt one thing from the vast number of articles on this site, Japanese fast food chains like McDonald’s come up with some really good ideas to keep people coming to their restaurants. Regardless of whether they turn out delicious or disgusting, inventions such as the luxury burger line-up, avocado burger, and tofu nuggets are hard to ignore.
It’s gotten to the point that people in Japan may have grown too accustomed to the nice things served at fast food outlets. For example, McDonald’s recently announced their new autumn special – Mushroom Risotto Balls – and online reaction could largely be described as righteous indignation with comments like “only an idiot would eat that!”
When I was a kid, we never had Oreos in my house. This wasn’t because my parents had a no-sweets policy, but because the pantry was well-stocked with similar Hydrox sandwich cookies instead.
But while Hydroxes actually predate Oreos by a whole four years, it’s the latter that went on to international fame and fortune. It’s a pretty similar tale to that of Dairy Queen’s Blizzard, which has been largely overshadowed by McDonald’s McFlurry, a nearly identical dessert of ice cream mixed with cookies or candy that came out more than a decade after Dairy Queen’s original.
So while the double imitation of an Oreo McFlurry might seem completely derivative, starting next month in Japan there’s a tasty bit of innovation you can look forward to, as McDonald’s Japan is bringing back matcha Oreo McFlurries.
McDonald’s joints all around the world have some of the most interesting items. There’s of course Chicken Curry Rice in Thailand, American vintage burgers in Japan, and ramen at one McDonald’s in the US (of all places!). But we’ve never seen anything quite this fancy at a fast food restaurant anywhere, so we sent one of our reporters to check out the colorful macarons at a McDonald’s in Shanghai.
Just days after the taking Chicken McNuggets off its menu in the light of the China food scandal, McDonald’s Japan has unveiled a brand new, rather unusual product: Tofu Shinjo Nuggets and Ginger Sauce, a combination of bean curd, fish and vegetables shaped into bite-size pieces and deep-fried.
Turning to tofu–a food that has long been a favourite in Japan and known for its health benefits–is certainly a wise move, and McDonald’s is undoubtedly in need of something new to entice customers back with, but while we’ve no doubt all craved deep-fried chicken at some point in our lives, we’d hazard a guess that very few have ever longed for a box of tofu nuggets at the end of a night on the town.
Curious cats that we are, we headed over to our local McDonald’s to grab a few boxes of the new nuggets. Join us after the jump to find out how they taste.