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McDonald’s Around the World: Malaysia Edition

McDonald's in Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaWell, the trip is drawing to a close, which means that this is my last taste of international McDonald’s weirdness.

McDonald's in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

First up: the Golden Prosperity Burger, which consists of a chicken patty (it’s also available in beef), a hash brown, black pepper sauce, and onions.  I didn’t care for this one at all.  For one thing, it was easily the sloppiest burger I’ve ever had at McDonald’s; the soft bun was barely even able to hold up under all that sauce.  The chicken patty was really bottom-of-the-barrel — it was one of the shoddiest reconstituted chicken patties I’ve ever had.  Plus, the sauce was just one-note peppery.  It really needed pickles or something acidic to balance things out a bit.

McDonald's in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Up next was the Bubur Ayam McD, which was a rice porridge with chicken, green onions, fried shallots, ginger, and sliced chilis.  This was actually not bad at all — the rice had a good texture, and all of the flavours worked pretty well together, with the fried shallots adding some crunch.

McDonald's in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Last but not least was the Red Bean Pie.  This was about as close to a sure thing as it gets.  I mean, it’s a crispy fried McDonald’s pie filled with tasty red bean filling.  Yeah, it was quite good.

McDonald’s Around the World: Thailand Edition

McDonald's in Bangkok, ThailandYep, another country, another visit to McDonald’s.  Let’s do this.

McDonald's in Bangkok, Thailand

First up: the McD Patongko.  This is just a tube-shaped piece of fried bread.   I had something similar to this (called a youtiao) from a street vendor in China.  Though that version was actually quite good on its own, this one seemed like it would have been much improved with a dipping sauce of some sort.  It was very plain.  But it was fine, I guess?

McDonald's in Bangkok, Thailand

Next: the Bacon & Pepper Chicken Cheesy Egg Bun.  I quite liked this one; it’s basically a cheesy omelette sandwich with a fried chicken patty and some bacon.  The fried chicken patty wasn’t great, but the omelette was satisfyingly cheesy and gooey, and the bacon was above average.  I want a cheesy omelette in every burger I have from McDonald’s from now on.  I’m going to need someone to make that happen.

McDonald's in Bangkok, Thailand

I saw a bunch of people in the restaurant eating the Big Spicy Fried Chicken, so I figured I should probably try that too.  It certainly earns the “Big” part of its name — it was an absolutely massive piece of fried chicken consisting of  a thigh with some white meat attached.  It was extremely Popeyes-esque, with an aggressively crunchy outer layer.  But it was barely spicy at all, sadly.

McDonald's in Bangkok, Thailand

For dessert, I tried the Corn Pie, because how can you not try something called a corn pie?   It wasn’t great.  It was crispy and fried, at least, but the filling was basically just corn-flavoured glop.  There were also a bunch of pieces of corn in there.

McDonald's in Bangkok, Thailand

I also got the Jelly Trio Chocolate, which is a chocolate sundae with strawberry jelly at the bottom.  This was way better than I was expecting; the jelly was on the chewier side, and it paired surprisingly well with the ice cream and the sauce.  Berries and chocolate is a pretty classic combination, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised it works as well as it does.

Mind-blowing Chicken Satay in Bangkok

Jay Eng in Bangkok, ThailandThough a lot of the food I’ve been eating in Bangkok has been a bit underwhelming, there’s definitely been some good stuff, too.  Such as: this amazing chicken satay I had from a place called Jay Eng.

Jay Eng in Bangkok, Thailand

Everything about it was just right: it was super tender, the marinade was really tasty, and it had a nice smoky flavour from the grill.  And that peanut sauce?  Bananas.  It was like a nuclear bomb of flavour.  Perfection.

Jay Eng in Bangkok, Thailand

I’d say it’s the best chicken satay I’ve ever had, but then I had some pretty amazing ones in Singapore a couple of years ago; I’d have to try them side-by-side to know which was better.

McDonald’s Around the World: Hong Kong Edition

McDonald's Hong KongThe menu at McDonald’s in Hong Kong is kind of boring; nothing particularly jumped out at me.  But I’m way too deep into this McDonald’s around the world thing to stop now, so yeah — I got a couple of things.

McDonald's Hong Kong

The first thing I got is the Loaded Fries with Guacamole and Tomato Salsa Sauce (that name just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?).  I think someone needs to tell McDonald’s Hong Kong that fries with a bit of sauce on them and a tiny cup of guacamole on the side doesn’t quite count as “loaded.”

This was fine, I guess.  The tomato salsa sauce was pretty tasty — it basically tasted like a very cumin-tinged hot sauce — but the guacamole was watery and bland.

McDonald's Hong Kong

The other thing I tried is the Spicy Jalapeno Chicken Burger.  This was actually pretty bad.  The jalapeno slices and jalapeno tomato relish were zingy and spicy, but it’s also topped with a very thick slice of pineapple which absolutely overwhelmed the sandwich with sweetness.

The worst part was the chicken itself.  Though the exterior was nice and crispy, it was ridiculously dry on the inside.  I finished this, but I’m really not sure why.

Amazing Japanese Curry in Tokyo

Kitchen Nankai in Tokyo, JapanCurry isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Japanese food, but yeah, they love it here.  And if a hole-in-the-wall joint called Kitchen Nankai is any indication, that love is very much justified.  Like pretty much all of the food I’ve had in Tokyo, it’s good.

Kitchen Nankai in Tokyo, Japan

There isn’t a single word of English to be found anywhere in the restaurant, but — as is fairly common in Japan — they have plastic replicas of their dishes in a display out front.  This is a godsend for clueless travelers such as myself; the grizzled older lady who runs the place followed me outside, I pointed, and that was that (in retrospect, I probably could have just said “katsu curry” and saved her a trip outside.  Oh well).

Kitchen Nankai in Tokyo, Japan

The place specializes in katsu curry, which is a deep-fried chicken cutlet and a side of rice that’s been slathered in a tasty curry sauce.

Kitchen Nankai in Tokyo, Japan

That curry was bonkers.  It was so good.  I’ve never had anything quite like it — it had a really rich, beefy flavour, and tasted more like a long-simmered chili or a stew than like any curry I’ve had before.  It was also spicy enough to get some sweat going, but not so spicy as to distract from the flavour.

The chicken katsu was the perfect vehicle for the curry; it was perfectly tender, and crispy enough to stand up to the deluge of sauce.  It would have been delicious on its own, but with that curry it was out of this world.

So Much Fried Chicken

Gukje Market in Busan, South KoreaI was at the Gukje Market in Busan, a huge street market that sells, among many other things, a variety of street food.  Nothing was particularly catching my eye until I saw a restaurant on the outskirts of the market serving up some seriously delicious-looking fried chicken.  Korean fried chicken (or, confusingly, KFC for short.  I was on a food forum once, and someone was asking where the best KFC could be found in Toronto, and I was thinking “uh… at… KFC…?” until I realized he was talking about Korean fried chicken) is kind of a big deal.  So I figured I’d check it out.

By the time I realized that this place only served enormous plates of fried chicken meant to be shared among multiple people, I was already sitting at a table and felt like I was committed, so I just went for it and got the original/spicy combo plate.  I ordered a beer, too, because if you’re going to eat a sharing plate of fried chicken by yourself, you may as well be drinking a beer.

Gukje Market in Busan, South Korea

And yeah, as I suspected, it was a ridiculous amount of fried chicken for one person.  I did my best — I ate most of the spicy chicken, and made a small dent in the original.  The rest I brought back to the hotel to eat later.

Sadly, though, it wasn’t the fried chicken perfection I was hoping for.  It was fine — it particular, the sauce on the spicy chicken was sweet, spicy, garlicky, and delicious — but it was all white meat with a few wings thrown in, and it was overcooked and dry.

Gukje Market in Busan, South Korea

It’s also cut in that typically Asian style of chopping up chicken into small, ostensibly bite-sized pieces of meat that aren’t actually bite-sized, because if you try to eat them in one bite there’s a very good chance you’re going to end up crunching down on some configuration of bones and/or cartilage.  But it’s almost impossible to tell what’s what when it’s battered and fried like this, so you just have to take tentative little bites until you figure out what’s going on inside of each piece, and then try to navigate around tiny little bone shards and cartilage fragments.

Sorry, everyone in Asia, but the way you cut up chicken is absurd.  Either give me deboned bite-sized chunks, or give me full pieces that I know what to do with.  There is no third option.

McDonald’s Around the World: China Edition

McDonald's in Beijing, ChinaMcDonald’s in China is an absolute treasure trove of menu oddities.  It’s amazing.  There were a few countries where I struggled to find even one or two things that I wanted to order; meanwhile, there was so much stuff I wanted to try in China that I actually wound up having two separate meals at McDonald’s.

McDonald's in Beijing, China

Up first: the Jumbo Wing, which is literally just a full chicken wing that’s been skewered on a wooden stick.  It’s not bad.  The meat has a salty, almost cured flavour — it’s definitely been brined in something.  The skin could have been more crispy, but it was a pretty good wing.  I guess there’s nothing particularly odd about a chicken wing, but this really seemed like a strange thing to be eating at McDonald’s.

McDonald's in Beijing, China

The next thing I tried was the Italy Stewed Flavour Big Chicken Cutlet.  This is basically just the chicken from a fried chicken sandwich, but without the sandwich.  Eating it like this just made me miss the sandwich parts of the sandwich.

McDonald's in Beijing, China

There was also the Chicken Patty Rice.  This was a bowl of rice with some kind of sweet sauce, bits of mushrooms (I think — I can’t find any information about this online.  That’s what it tasted like, at least), lettuce, and pieces of chicken.

This was actually quite tasty.  The sauce had a slightly sour flavour to balance out the sweetness, and the chicken was dark meat (the general preference for white meat back home completely baffles me — dark meat is more tender and more flavourful.  It is objectively better than white meat).

McDonald's in Beijing, China

Then there was the German Beef Double Sausage Burger.  I’ve mostly been skipping the  burger options at the various McDonald’s I’ve been to, because for the most part, they’re pretty boring.  But this one has two German sausages on it, so yeah, obviously I had to try it.

It was okay, I guess.  I think the sausages were supposed to be bratwurst, and they were fine.  But the two burger patties were even more dry than usual (and at McDonald’s, that’s saying something), which made it hard to enjoy.  Still, the tasty horseradish mustard helped.

McDonald's in Beijing, China

And finally, I tried the Passion Fruit and Peach Jumbo Cone.  This was pretty good: the sauce was quite tart, contrasting well with the very sweet soft serve, and the couple of whole peach slices on top were a nice touch.  I think the cone was a charcoal cone?  Either that or chocolate.  Either way, it didn’t taste like much, and it was slightly bitter (but not unpleasantly so).  It was fine, but a cup probably would have worked a bit better — it was a mess.

What Else can we Stuff with Rice?

Stuffed chicken wing in Beijing, ChinaI just had a wing that was stuffed with rice, and I need to say that whoever invented this is a goddamned genius.  Wings are good.  Rice is good.  Why not stuff one into the other?

Why not indeed.

Stuffed chicken wing in Beijing, China

I got this from a street vendor, and it was even more delightful than I had hoped.  I thought I’d have to navigate around bones and cartilage (I love Chinese food, but their insistence on making many dishes a minefield of bones and cartilage can be a bit vexing), but nope: the genius who invented this thought of that.  It’s completely deboned, aside from the very bottom part of the wing, so you can just hold on to that and eat it like a hot dog on a stick.

Stuffed chicken wing in Beijing, China

The skin, which has been glazed and sprinkled with sesame seeds, is crispy and tasty.  The wing is filled with sticky rice with little bits of veggies, which is surprisingly spicy (it’s definitely not just plain rice).   The crispy, sticky-sweet exterior contrasts very nicely with the dense, spicy interior.  It seems like a novelty — like something you might get at the carnival — but it’s surprisingly delicious.

McDonald’s Around the World: England Edition

McDonald's in London, EnglandLike in France, McDonald’s menu in England is pretty boring.  It’s mostly the usual suspects, though they do have something called Cheese & Herb melts that are basically just mozzarella sticks, but in nugget form.

Cheese and Herb Melts from McDonald's in London, England

It’s gooey fried cheese, so yeah, it’s good.  It comes with what they call “Rich Tomato Dip,” which is an overly sweet marinara sauce that was way too cloying to be particularly edible.

Spicy Jerk Chicken Sandwich from McDonald's in London, England

They also have a “Great Tastes of the World” promotion running right now, so I got a fried chicken sandwich from that menu: Jamaican Chicken with Spicy Jerk Sauce.  It was fine, I guess, but it basically just tasted like a standard McDonald’s fried chicken sandwich.  You could barely even tell the jerk sauce was there, and it certainly wasn’t spicy.

McDonald’s Around the World: Spain Edition

McDonald's SpainWho can say no to ham croquettes at McDonald’s?  Or chicken wings?  Well, most people, probably — not this guy.

I’m not very smart, you see.  As most people would reasonably imagine, neither of these things were very good.

Um...

The croquettes were probably the better of the two.   They were sort of okay, though the exterior wasn’t particularly crispy, and the interior was unpleasantly gummy, without much flavour other than a generic saltiness.

Or at least I thought it was salty, until I tasted the wings and learned the true definition of that word.

So much salt

I honestly think those wings might have been the saltiest thing I’ve ever eaten. They were fine otherwise — nice and crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. But holy jeez, I’m surprised I didn’t have a stroke right there on the spot. They were so salty they actually kind of burned my tongue.

Nope

I was craving something sweet after that salt overload, so I got the Nocilla McFlurry (Nocilla is basically a Spanish version of Nutella).  I had high hopes for this one; if you put enough Nutella on literally anything, it’ll eventually become delicious.  But that’s the problem — there wasn’t enough of it, and the little pieces of brownie they mixed in were overly chewy and completely tasteless.

The ice cream itself wasn’t even particularly creamy, so all in all: boo-urns, McDonald’s Spain.  Boo-urns.