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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.

The Greatest Banh Mi I’ve ever had…

…And maybe the greatest sandwich I’ve ever had, period?  It’s right up there, that’s for sure.

Banh mi, for the unaware, is a Vietnamese sandwich served on a version of a baguette.  I’ve had a few since arriving in Vietnam.  They’re typically served in roadside stalls like this one.

Banh mi in Vietnam

Or this one.

Banh mi in Vietnam

That last one featured a banh mi that was filled with grilled meat patties.  It was quite tasty, but the patties were a bit too dry.

Banh mi in Vietnam

One of the better ones that I’ve had (up until the mind-blowing best ever that I’ll get to in a moment) is from a place called Banh My Lan Ong in Hanoi.

Banh mi in Vietnam

They’re famous for their freshly-made pate (you can even buy it in little plastic tubs from the restaurant), and rightfully so.  That pate is absolutely amazing; a little bit chunkier than the norm, with a very mild liver flavour that’s balanced perfectly by the pate’s unique spicing (it has quite a strong cinnamon flavour).

Banh mi in Vietnam

But the bread itself was a bit overly crunchy; one of the great things about a banh mi baguette is the very light, crackly exterior and the fluffy interior.  This one was aggressively crunchy — it’s the type of bread that’ll tear up the inside of your mouth if you don’t eat it carefully.

Banh mi in Vietnam

The greatest banh mi of all time, oddly enough, was a random discovery.  I was just walking around in Hanoi and saw a very impressive line for a place called Banh My Pho Hue; if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you know that I absolutely cannot resist a line for food.  And even if that had never paid off for me, it still would have been worth it a billion times over for allowing me to discover this place, because oh man.  Oh man, this sandwich.

Banh mi in Vietnam

It’s so simple: a slathering of butter, a heaping spread of pate, a little bit of pork floss, a few slices of cold cuts, and a few slices of plain cucumber.  There’s none of the pickled veggies or herbs that you find in a lot of other banh mi, and you don’t miss it.

Banh mi in Vietnam

You can add on a little bit of the zingy chili sauce they have on the side (and you should definitely do this), but other than that it’s a pretty basic sandwich.

Banh mi in Vietnam

The bread is ridiculous; it’s satisfyingly crispy on the outside, and fluffy as a cloud on the inside. You can eat this sandwich as aggressively as you want — you’re not going to cut your mouth.  And yet that outer crisp is still very much there, it’s just amazingly delicate.

Banh mi in Vietnam

The pate, like at Banh My Lan Ong, is a bit chunky, and absolutely amazing.  It’s easily the star of the show, and is complimented perfectly by the creamy butter, the cold cuts, the pork floss, and the fresh crunchiness of the cucumber.

It’s a simple sandwich, but all of the components are so delicious and work together so well that it’s a revelation.  If I were to list the top five sandwiches that I’ve ever eaten, it’d be on there for sure.

McDonald’s Around the World: South Korea Edition

McDonald's in Busan, South KoreaI’ve eaten some pretty awful stuff at McDonald’s over the last few months; McDonald’s in South Korea has single-handedly made up for all of it.  It was actually kind of bizarre how good everything was.

McDonald's in Busan, South Korea

First up: the Bulgogi Burger (bulgogi is a Korean dish featuring grilled, thinly-sliced beef or pork that’s been marinated in a special sauce).  The first thing that stands out here is the burger itself; it’s made of pork instead of beef, and had a pleasantly tender texture that’s kind of like a McRib patty, but better.  The patty is completely covered in the sweet, tangy bulgogi sauce, and topped with lettuce and mayo.  It was actually quite good.

McDonald's in Busan, South Korea

The next thing I tried was the Supreme Shrimp Burger.  The patty here is kind of odd — it has whole pieces of shrimp, bound together by… more shrimp?  I think?  Ground shrimp?  The whole thing is breaded and fried, and it was way better than I was expecting it to be.  The shrimp itself had a really great texture; I was expecting it to be dry and rubbery, but it was actually quite well cooked.    The exterior is nice and crispy, and it’s topped with lettuce, tomato, and a slightly sweet sauce with a bit of a kick.  This wasn’t just good for McDonald’s — it was legitimately delicious.

McDonald's in Busan, South Korea

The last thing I tried was the Double Chocolate Waffle Fries.  This one is straight-up bizarre, and I was fully expecting it to be gross.  Basically, you get a plate of plain chips (they call these waffle fries, but they’re thin and crispy throughout — they’re chips), along with a packet containing white and milk chocolate sauces that you pour all over the chips.

McDonald's in Busan, South Korea

I’d like to note that the design of this packet is kind of ingenious — you just fold it in half,  snapping it open, and then you dispense the sauce by squeezing the two halves together.

McDonald's in Busan, South Korea

This was so much better than I thought it was going to be.  The chips were fresh, crispy, and barely salty at all, so they were a surprisingly good vehicle for the chocolate.  And the chocolate sauce was actually pretty tasty — it reminded me a lot of Nutella, only without the hazelnut flavour.  If you’ve ever had chips dipped in chocolate, then you have a pretty good idea of what to expect here.  It’s weirdly delicious.

Mushy, but Good

Tokoman in Amsterdam, NetherlandsThanks to its colonialist history, Surinamese cuisine is quite common in Amsterdam (the history of colonialism is pretty horrifying, but at the very least some good food came out of it.  So… glass half full?).

Pom Sandwich from Tokoman in Amsterdam, Netherlands

I’d heard good things about the pom sandwich at Tokoman — pom is basically a mash consisting of a sweet potato-esque root vegetable called arrowleaf elephant ear root, with pieces of chicken mixed in along with some spices.

It’s basically a mush sandwich, but it’s surprisingly good.  It’s sweet, with the unique spices adding some complexity, and the chicken adding substance.   The very fresh baguette was absolutely perfect, with the delicately crispy exterior adding a nice contrast to the soft filling.

McDonald’s Around the World: Netherlands Edition

McDonald's in Amsterdam, NetherlandsRemember my post about kroket, Amsterdam’s version of the croquette?  McDonald’s has their own version, and — of course — it’s called the McKroket.

McDonald's in Amsterdam, Netherlands

It’s actually surprisingly good.  Though the exterior doesn’t quite have the same satisfying crunch as the other versions I had, otherwise it’s quite comparable.  While the filling is maybe slightly too salty, it’s creamy and meaty and quite satisfying.

McDonald's in Amsterdam, Netherlands

It’s topped with a mustardy mayo sauce that suits it quite well; it’s one of the better things I’ve had in the many European McDonald’s I’ve visited so far.

The Line Failed Me

The Green Bench Cafe in Dublin, IrelandI’ve written before about how I’m powerless to resist a line-up for food.  Yes, some restaurants can be over-hyped, but generally speaking if a place is popular enough to generate a long line, the food is probably pretty good.

So I got pretty excited when I saw the line at the Green Bench Cafe, a takeout joint (or “takeaway,” as they call it here) that’s well known for its sandwiches.  I mean, look at this crowd:

The Green Bench Cafe in Dublin, Ireland

All those people can’t be wrong!

The Green Bench Cafe in Dublin, Ireland

Or maybe they can.  I got the beef brisket sandwich, and it wasn’t bad — there was actually a lot about it that I quite liked.  But the beef (and you can’t really tell from the picture, but there was a lot of it) was super dry.  It was somewhat jerky-esque.  It kinda sucks all the moisture out of your mouth.

Grilled Cheese with Haggis

Dean's in Glasgow, ScotlandI’m starting to think that you can add haggis to literally anything, and that thing will be improved.  Because so far I’ve had haggis with breakfast, haggis on a pork sandwich, haggis in puff pastry, and haggis in a burrito, and they’ve all been surprisingly delicious.

The latest haggis mashup?  Haggis with grilled cheese (or a toastie, as it’s known in the UK).

Grilled cheese from Dean's in Glasgow, Scotland

I had this at a place in Glasgow called Dean’s, and it comes with haggis, cheddar cheese, grainy mustard, and Branston Pickle (which is essentially a sweet British chutney).

This might have been my favourite of the various haggis dishes I’ve had so far.  The haggis adds a meaty substance to the delightfully gooey cheese, the mustard adds a nice zingy counterpoint, and the sweet Branston Pickle cuts through the richness.

Like the burrito, I sort of expected this to be a bit of a novelty, and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

Porky Goodness at Oink

Oink in Edinburgh, ScotlandThere’s not a whole lot that you can absolutely, positively count on in this world, but here’s one thing:  when a restaurant has this on display in their front window, I’m gonna be going inside that restaurant.

Oink in Edinburgh, Scotland

If there’s a more glorious sight in the world, I’d like to see it.

Oink, as you might imagine, specializes in pork sandwiches.  One of the more interesting things about it are the add-ons to the sandwich; to go with the pork, you can either choose from a sage and onion topping, or haggis.  I went with haggis, because I’m in Scotland, so obviously.

You also get your choice of sauce; I had mine topped with mustard mayo.

Oink in Edinburgh, Scotland

It’s a pretty great sandwich — the pork is very simply spiced, allowing its natural flavours to shine through, and it’s nice and tender while still maintaining some texture (some sandwiches like this have a tendency to be one-note mushy).  The haggis and the mayo do a great job of complimenting the pork, but still allowing it to be the star of the show.   It’s quite good.

HOWEVER.  They get minus infinity points for having all that glorious crispy skin on display and then not including any in the sandwich. I guess you have to ask for it?  That’s ridiculous.  You’re ridiculous, Oink.  Where’s my crispy skin??

The Duck was Calling me Back

Duck confit sandwich at the Borough Market in London, EnglandWhen I was at the Borough Market, I noticed one vendor selling a duck confit sandwich that looked so good, I had to go back.

I mean, look at that griddle full of meat.  I want to shrink myself down so I can dive in like Scrooge McDuck into his money bin.  Of course I went back to try the sandwich.

Duck confit sandwich at the Borough Market in London, England

The sandwich has some greens and some kind of sweet onion jam, but what really matters is that tender, crispy, greasy duck.  They let it sit on the hot griddle long enough to get nicely browned throughout, giving you a really generous amount of crispy bits interspersed throughout the tender meat.