by Tony Ponce
Christmastime is here! Happiness and cheer! Even Japan can’t help but revel in the holiday spirit, with ornate decorations hung in every shop and lights strung about town. And don’t forget the most iconic sign of the season: Strawberry shortcake, orders for which opened up many weeks in advance!
But never mind all that when “Makku” – i.e. McDonald’s Japan – is here to deliver a steaming plate of Americana straight to your taste buds!
Last month, I shared my flavor odyssey with McD’s American Deluxe menu, a limited campaign that purports to transport patrons to the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, minus the stuffy 12-hour flight. I also said that a second round of sandwiches would be introduced on November 22nd, so guess what we’ll be discussing today!
The name of the game previously was “Cheese,” but this time, it’s all about “Barbecue.” We’ve got the Deluxe Barbecue Beef and the Deluxe Barbecue Chicken, once again marked at ¥490 (about US$4.37) solo or ¥790 (about US$7.05) in a medium-size value set. Also as before, the two sandwiches share all the same fixings with only the animal meat swapping spots.
Compared to the Deluxe Cheeses, the Deluxe Barbecues have gained a bit of thickness, borrowing the Big Mac’s three-piece sesame bun in order to contain all that savory goodness. We’ve got bacon, lettuce, a slice of cheddar cheese, a fluffy poached egg, and of course the liquid BBQ gold. However, it’s not that sauce that ties the meal together – that honor goes to the smoky chipotle spread!
I tackled this taste-testing task across two separate visits, though I switched up the order this time by going with the burger first. I had just gotten paid two days prior and wanted to treat myself to the emptiest of calories after a bit of shopping at the mall. I grabbed my tray, sat down, flipped open the oh-so patriotic packaging, and marveled once more at this country’s commitment to not serving sandwiches that look like they have been pressed by a flat iron.
After taking the requisite glamor shots, I sunk my teeth into that fatty and was met by two unexpected surprises: First, this wasn’t normal McD’s BBQ sauce, which I always found to be extremely tangy with a hint of sweetness. This one was indeed tangy, but as with most all sauces in Japan, the taste is subdued, which here allowed a light pepper flavor to pleasantly peek through. Second, this baby was packing a touch of heat! Closer inspection revealed the aforementioned chipotle sauce, which I never knew going into the meal would be involved! Talk about a bonus!
Regarding the egg, I’m aware that a sizable contingent of burger lovers don’t like topping their patties with this particularly incredible edible. Sucks to be them, especially since you can’t escape eggs in Japan. Tamagoyaki, a mildly sweet rolled omelet, is the perfect complement for any child’s bento box lunch. Half-boiled eggs can be found floating in many a ramen bowl. In fact, one of the simplest and fastest breakfast options in the land is to take some steamed rice, crack a raw egg on top, add a dash of soy sauce and maybe some green onions, then dig in!
Yes, I am all for eggs on burgers. I’m all for the Deluxe Barbecue Beef, at that! The fluffiness of the egg, the juiciness of the patty, and the tangy, spicy sauce tag team result in a concoction that is far more than the sum of its parts. And there’s still one more sandwich to go!
Fast forward to Sunday. The local UNIQLO clothing store was running a sale on winter garments. I was ready to add to my closet, but feeding the beast came first. I stepped into the adjacent “Makku” and placed an order for one Deluxe Barbecue Chicken set. That energy would help me brave the price conscious shoppers, whose cars were lined up on the main road, waiting for a space to open up just so they could park!
This chicken sandwich is somewhat of a one-act tragedy: Chicken and egg, mother and child, served together in one heart-clogging monument of excess. There was little time to dwell on this profound reality, as the food was already halfway to my stomach. As with the previous Deluxe Chicken, the bird was moist and tender, with the right amount of crispy breading. But as tasty as the union of flavors was, I still felt that the burger was the superior option.
Now for the big question: Cheese or Barbecue? The Deluxe Cheese Beef and Chicken were ooey-gooey with the cheddar, kicked into overdrive with a bomb pepper steak sauce. Meanwhile, the Deluxe Barbecue Beef and Chicken appear much more traditionally “American” at first glance, but conceal a secret weapon in the form of a zesty chipotle sauce. It’s a tough call, but I think the American Deluxe Cheese pair takes the crown – just a touch more flavor packed into every bite. Shame that those two were pulled from the menu to make way for the BBQ brothers.
No new side menu goodies to talk about this time, but the items from before were nothing to write home about, so no biggie. Who has room for bland mashed potato tots and soft serve with grape jelly swirls, anyway? Not when American flavors and Japanese ingenuity join forces to treat you like the king or queen you know you are!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to do some Christmas shopping for the fam, and I need a little American burger action to get me through the day!