- McDonald’s has thousands of locations all around the world.
- We asked six of our international colleagues — in Singapore, Japan, India, Sweden, and the Netherlands — to visit a McDonald’s location near them.
- They found that the chain catered to local tastes with regional variations on popular items like mayonnaise-flavored French fries and coconut pies.
- While some were surprised by the quality of McDonald’s regional items, others were disappointed.We also tried one of the new items featured at US locations of McDonald’s.
With over 36,000 locations in more than 100 countries, McDonald’s is one of the most recognizable brands in the world. While it made its name with staples like the Big Mac and Quarter Pounder, the chain tailors its menu to local tastes, which means that a McDonald’s in India will look very different from one in the United States.
After trying one of McDonald’s newest items in the United States, we asked some of our international colleagues in six different countries — Singapore, Japan, India, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the UK — to go to a McDonald’s near them and tell us about the experience. We found that each catered to regional tastes with variations on the chain’s traditional offerings that surprised us.
See what our colleagues had to say below.
Who would’ve thought that our quintessential local dish, Nasi Lemak, could actually be turned into a burger?
Commonly eaten for breakfast, Nasi Lemak is a fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk, and it’s usually accompanied with a range of side dishes such as fried egg, cucumber, ikan bilis and most importantly – some spicy sambal chilli.
So imagine our doubt when we heard about McDonald’s new item.
What could be better than our regular McChicken sandwich and iced Milo?
We purchased the bundle set ($9), which comprises the Nasi Lemak burger (of course), coconut pie, Bandung McFizz and French fries, which can be upsized to the criss-cut fries option.
Juicy coconut-flavored chicken patty? Check. Fried egg? Check. Cucumber slices? Check. Caramelized onions? Check. Oh, and all these were served between semolina buns – not the basic sesame seed burger buns.
The verdict for just this burger alone? We’re absolutely digging it.
We went into the test filled with skepticism. Little did we expect to be mind-blown by how the burger could taste just like a dish of, well, Nasi Lemak. Consider us sold.
Most of us at the taste test enjoyed coconut-flavored desserts, except for one. But this coconut pie might have changed her perspective on all coconut-y sweets.
The coconut filling was warm and silky-smooth — so good that it managed to win over a non-fan of coconut-flavored food.
We also tried the Chendol McFlurry ($3) and Bandung McFizz.
Once again, the ice cream exceeded our expectations and was actually pretty good. There was a generous amount of gula melaka sauce and bits of coconut shavings. It was a tad sweet, but still enjoyable on the whole.
The Badung McFizz was supposed to taste like Bandung, a rose syrup drink enjoyed by locals, but it barely tasted like the real deal. It was like drinking a cup of pink-hued Sprite. We say – skip this drink.
McDonald’s, you’re doing something right this time. We’ll put the tragic episodes involving truffle fries and salted egg burgers behind us. In the meantime, we’re looking forward to even more fancy creations.
— Andrea Saadan, BI Singapore
We purchased the “Cheese Tsukimi Burger set” (¥670), upgraded the French fries to “Mentai-mayo,” or fries flavored with seasoned cod roe and mayonnaise (+¥30), and upgraded our drink to McFizz Yuzu flavor (+¥30). Yuzu is a Japanese lemon.
The Tsukimi burger is a special burger that is served at McDonald’s in Japan during the fall. In Japan, there is a festival honoring the autumn moon. From this, McDonald’s got the idea for the Tsukimi burger, and this is its 26th year selling the burger. The egg is supposed to represent the moon.
Here’s a closer look. Inside the “Tsukimi” burger were a beef patty, cheese, fried egg, bacon, and sauce. In Japan, people often eat soba noodles in soup topped with an egged called “Tsukimi” soba, and “tsukimi” means moon.
This was our first time trying the Tsukimi burger (although McDonald’s has been selling it for 26 years) and we wouldn’t order it again. The main part of this burger was the egg, and we didn’t like the egg at all. We could only taste the egg whites when we got to the middle of the burger, and after eating it for a while we got tired of eating the egg whites before getting to the egg yolk.
The cheese, beef patty, and sauce were fine.
We upgraded our French fries to “Mentai-mayo fries,” and a mentai-mayo-flavored powder was put in a paper bag to shake the fries.
After shaking the fries for about 20 seconds, the “Mentai-mayo” flavored fries were ready. It had a stronger taste of mayonnaise than mentai. It kind of reminded us of mayonnaise-flavored potato chips.
We also tried the Yuzu McFizz. This was supposed to have the sour-sweet citrus flavor that the Yuzu has. However, it was like drinking a yellow, more citrus-flavored Sprite.
We also purchased the “ginger fried pork” burger and Chelsea (butterscotch candy produced by Meiji) milkshake.
“Pork Shogayaki,” known as ginger pork, is one of the most popular dishes in Japan.
The first thing we noticed after eating this burger was the Shogayaki sauce. The sauce tasted similar to teriyaki sauce with a bit of spice in it.
The flavor of spicy ginger and the soy sauce with a touch of Mirin mix matched well. McDonald’s created the special Shogayaki sauce, which actually tasted like Shogayaki. Shogayaki is often served with a bowl of rice, however, McDonald’s did a really great job. It went well with the bun.
— Lisa Nonaka, BI Japan
McDonald’s has a McAloo Tikki Burger on its India menu. “Aloo” means “potato,” and the word “tikki” means “a small cutlet.” Commonly eaten as a snack in North India, aloo tikkis are crispy, spicy, round-shaped potato cutlets topped with various sweet and tangy sauces and spice powders. They are served piping-hot.
Traditionally, aloo tikkis are cooked by deep-frying boiled, mashed potatoes and peas. They are the most popular street food in India.