29 November, 2011

McCriollo Breakfast - Bogota Colombia - March 2011

Prior to my trip to Colombia, I checked McDonald's Colombia homepage in order to see if they had any special items, but nothing looked all that interesting.  My original 6 day trip to Bogota was cut down only to 2 days, so I had to make sure I stopped in shortly after my arrival.  I asked my friend to drive me to the nearest McDonald's after a nice home cooked meal, and apparently the nearest one from his flat was about a 20 minute drive.  He told me McDonald's has really struggled in Colombia, and they have been closing rapidly.  I looked over their menu, and sadly there weren't any limited time promotional items, and my Colombian friend asked the employees directly if there was anything special. They said I would have to come back for breakfast, as their only 'Colombian' item was the McCriollo breakfast set.

The following morning I was dropped off downtown by my friends mother on her way to work.  I wasn't hungry right away, so I wandered around in order to build up my appetite. When I did become hungry, it was rather difficult to find a McDonald's.  I found some free WiFi, so I used Google Maps to find the only branch in the city centre. When I found it, I found a branch similar to some Japanese outlets, with the ordering done from the store front that was nearly on the pavement, and you took your order upstairs to the dining room. At the time I was the only person ordering, and it took still a few minutes to receive my order.  I walked upstairs to the dining room, and it was large, stylish and clean, but there was only 2-3 other diners, in a dining room that could have fit maybe 75 people.  Even during these early hours, there was someone constantly cleaning the floor and the tables as people came and left. I sat in a booth next to the window which had a nice view of the square, and the museum across the street.  The coffee, was hands down, the best McDonald's coffee I have ever had.  I guess being Colombia...it better be.  I guess it was worth waiting the extra few minutes for my order, as it seemed everything had just been made to order. The scrambled eggs were surprising as they had sweetcorn mixed into it, and were slightly runnier than scrambled eggs you would get in Canada but still very good. The arepa's (corn flat bread), were slightly harder and chewier than I have had before.  Not sure if this was because it was to Colombian tastes, or if a just poor McDonald's attempt. The sausage, was meatier than the sausage you get in Canada and the U.S. but it wasn't anything special, though, even though it was piping hot, it wasn't dripping in grease, which is a nice change.

Consumed on - 2 March 2011
Location - Avenida Carrera 7, Av. Jiménez, Bogotá, Colombia
Price - 10500COP = ~$5.40USD
Rating - 4/5

26 November, 2011

Tuna Muffin - Tokyo Japan - November 2011

Before leaving for this trip to Tokyo, I saved a digital coupon for 100Y off the new Tuna McMuffin (simply called the 'Tuna Muffin' in Japan) but a few days before I arrived I noticed that it had been removed from their website. Though my coupon said it was valid for 3 days after I arrived, I wondered if it had been removed pre-maturely, a Tuna McMuffin never sounded very appetising, and with the recently sky rocketing Tuna prices, I assumed I wouldn't be able to try it.  After walking for the last 4 hours, I searched out the McDonald's near Shinjuku Stn (photo of the storefront).  I had been to this branch a few times as it is near my friend Eriks old flat and I knew I would be able to get free WiFi from the neighbouring Seibu Department Store (free working WiFi is near impossible to find in Japan).  When I arrived I didn't see any promotional material for the Tuna Muffin and when Japanese McDonald's has a limited item, they usually have big signage promoting it.  But even with the lack of signage, I still showed the coupon from my phone and the server had no problems getting it ordered for me.  

I guess the problem with the lack of promotional material was that no one else knew about the Tuna Muffin, so when I received it, the tuna inside was very, very cold.  I guess it was straight out of the refrigerator, so the muffin and cheese were hot as it was just the standard McMuffin setup, but with the tuna being so cold, the contrast made it slightly off-putting. Also, as is common in many Asian sandwiches, it was not 100% tuna, but tuna and a whole lot of mayonnaise.  I don't generally like tuna and mayo together, but this mixture wasn't that bad, just needed a little black pepper to make it taste pretty good.  I also questioned the addition of cheese on it, personally I think the egg would have worked better with the tuna, and made it a little more filling breakfast sandwich, as it currently was served, it only had ~290kcal, so with a black coffee, it wasn't nearly filling enough meal.

Consumed on - 21 November 2011
Price - 390JPY (With Coupon) - ~$5.00USD
Rating - 3/5

22 November, 2011

McHotDog Chili - Tokyo Japan - November 2011

Dining Area

McDonald's Japan has a great website, and my last few trips to Japan I have actually visited their website prior, in order to check which limited edition item I can try.  They also have printable coupons that change every few weeks which can help minimise the damage to the wallet. A few days before my arrival they announced the Chilli McHotdog combo for just 250Y, as a part of their 1971 throwback promotion.   A McHotdog is an item I tried on an earlier trip to Japan, and is a regular breakfast menu item (full review will come one day).  This chilli version is a one-month limited edition promo.  The 'combi' did not include a hash brown, but that was perfect for me at the time, as I had a 5am arrival at Haneda airport after a red-eye from Singapore, so I wasn't very hungry and didn't need the oil so early in the morning.  A standard McHotdog combo with a hash brown was still being offered, but I don't know why you would order it, as it was still 390Y, and a hash brown on its own is only 100Y so you'd save money by ordering them separately.

The Chilli in the promotional photos online, and on the posters inside the restaurant looked pretty good. The last time I had Chilli on an item in Japanese McDonald's (look for that review soon) it was very good, and rather hearty, so I worried how heavy chilli would work for breakfast.  But, not surprisingly, the chilli on the McHotdog wasn't the same, and there wasn't very much of it at all.  Instead of the ketchup, mustard and relish on the standard dog, all three have been replaced by the chilli & onion mixture.  It was flavourful, but personally, I think it needed about 3X more to be sufficient. The lack of chilli allowed me to taste the garlic spiced bun (which is same as the regular McHotdog) and let me notice the texture of the hotdog itself.  I've only had a few in Asia over the last 6 years, but usually the skin on a hotdog here is much tougher and chewier than a western dog.  This hotdog tasted exactly like a western one, albeit with a lightly denser filling, not sure if this is a Japanese thing, or just McDonald's Japan attempting to be westernised. I didn't see anyone else ordering the chilli hot dog, and as it was the last 4 days of this promotional item, I guess the Japanese didn't really enjoy it.

A small note about this branch. Normally the full size McD's in Japan have a full smoking section (or floor), but this on was next to a busy train station (Shinagawa Stn) and only had about 30 seats. Many Japanese McD's near stations have their ordering wall's outside the dining area acting as it's store-front, so people can get their food and make their way to the trains quickly without even entering the restaurant. I commenter asked me to take a photo of the store front, and I will from now on, but now, you can see it on through Google Street View - here.  In this case, the dining area was slightly around the corner from where you ordered.  Strangely, it was entirely smoking from 5am-10:30am (breakfast hours), when it was lunch, it turned to non-smoking.  All 25-30 people sitting there were chain smoking, and as soon as I walked inside my eyes really felt the smoke.  I saw a few others walk in with their tray notice all the smoke, then walk quickly out and get it for takeaway.

Consumed on - 21 November 2011
Price - 250JPY = ~3.25USD
Location - McDonald's Shinagawa Station
Rating - 3/5

17 November, 2011

Mango Chicken Panini & Mango Hazelnut Cheesecake - McCafe - Hong Kong - November 2011

Hello again, from the sunny Maldives!  I visited Hong Kong last week before heading to Sri Lanka, so this is my McD's recap for the week.  Also sorry for being a day late, as I was in transit to get here all day yesterday.

Unfortunately I came to Hong Kong at a time where their promotional item was the McRib, and since I have tried the McRib before in Long Beach CA.  I didn't want to have that again, so I thought it was a perfect time to get one the McCafe Sandwiches which I hadn't ever bothered to try before.  I have always avoided the McCafe menu from HK as they were always more expensive than the standard menu, and usually when I am there, they have limited edition items for me to sample .  

Of all the sandwiches and wraps on offer, the most interesting and unique sounding one was the New 'Mango & Chicken Panini' (which, strangely, isn't on the McCafe website).  It was rather small, and had a strong mango flavour.  It almost tasted more like mango jelly on flat bread, rather than a chicken Panini, I guess the mango puree is cheaper than the chicken strips, so they put more mango than chicken.   The sandwich on its own was 26.50$, but you could add it to any drink for only 15$, so I ordered a ‘long black’ coffee for 15$ and added the sandwich to get the coffee for pretty cheap.

Thinking my mate Hugh would try half of the sandwich, I also went with the new cheesecake offering, as it was something I haven’t tried before.  Keeping with the mango theme, I tried the Mango & Hazelnut cheese cake, and also did the combo thing. I got a HK style milk-tea for 15$ and added the cheese cake for an additional 12$ (original price was 23.50$) so the milk-tea was nearly free.  Living in Korea, where the cakes look great, but are mostly air and tasteless, this cheesecake was  rich, dense, and heavy, just like a cheesecake should be.  The mango wasn’t overpowering like in the sandwich, and the nuts were evenly distributed throughout the piece.  The chocolate crust was a nice touch too, it was thick and also quite rich. 

I can’t say anything positive about the milk-tea at all.  I love HK milk-tea, but this was the worst I’ve ever had.  Usually, they give you a sugar packet on the side, to sweeten it to your liking (I don’t add any), but I watched them make it, and they added three pumps of liquid sugar without asking, which pretty much ruined it for me. I had the coffee to drink and Hugh had a coke with his McRib, so I wasn't going to bother asking them to remake it.  Two obligatory tiny sips, and straight into the trash it went.

In retrospect instead of the coffee with the sandwich I probably should have tried one of the promotional coffees on offer, Ginger Bread Latte, or a Mint Mocha, but knowing my hatred of sugary coffee drinks I'm sure their fate would have been the same as the milk-tea.

Consumed on - 11 November 2011
Price - 60.50HKD = 7.70USD (Total for the Panini, Cheesecake, Milk-tea and Long Black Coffee)
Rating - Panini 3/5, Cheesecake 5/5, Milk-tea 1/5, Coffee (its coffee)

13 November, 2011

Fish McRice w/ Gravy & Veggie Burger w/ Cheese - Colombo, Sri Lanka - November 2011

Consumed On - 12 November 2011
Price - Fish McRice - 230LKR ($2.05USD), Veggie Burger Combo - 440LKR (~4.00USD)
Location - McDonald's Sri Lanka 
Rating - Fish McRice - 4/5, Veggie Burger W/ Cheese - 3/5

08 November, 2011

McPepper - Hong Kong - November 2009

This review is for 'mr&mrs' from FlyerTalk.  He/she originally asked if I had tried the Chicken McPepper in Singapore, but seeing as I make it to Hong Kong far more often,  I have only been able to try the McPepper in Hong Kong, and it uses a beef patty.  The McPepper is a promotional item that McDonald's HK brings back about once every two years.  I originally sampled it in November of 2009, but I do not know when it was first introduced.  They brought it back in October 2011, and it this time, they had the 'Mega McPepper' (which you can see in the photo above).  The burger itself its pretty simple, a double hamburger, but smothered in a black pepper gravy and topped with cooked onions.  But they had so much sauce on it, that I was able to scrape some off to dip my fries in it and still have enough on the burger to enjoy the taste (and it was a great topping for the fries!)  Personally, I didn't find it 'spicy' at all (but then again, people think my taste buds are damaged, as nothing is ever 'spicy'), but the black pepper taste was wonderful, I enjoyed it, and if they had it is a main menu item, I would easily order it over anything else. I wish I made it back to HKG in time to try the 'Mega' edition, but I feel that might be a sauce/sodium overload.  As is everything in Hong Kong McD's, it was a great value just 23$ for the combo.

Consumed on - 07 November 2009
Price - $23.50HKD = ~$3.00
Location - Salisbury Road/Star Ferry McDonald's, Kowloon, Hong Kong (Just out of view on the right)
Rating - 5/5

05 November, 2011

Chicken McMini Thai Chilli and Pesto - Lasalle, Canada - May 2010

My hometown of Windsor, Ontario Canada (and the surrounding Essex Country) is often a McDonald's test market for Canada (and sometimes for all of North America).  In the past, we were the first (and I believe only) McDonald's market in North America to deliver.  We were the first also McDonald's market to have Pizza (which never made it out of Canada), and the first to start the McCafe changes in North America.  The McMini is also another Windsor-first.  But at the time I sampled, they had gone nationwide.  Back in 2010, McDonald's Canada offered two options, grilled or crispy chicken, for each of their two flavours, Thai Chilli, and Pesto.  Each consisted of 1/2 a chicken sandwich on a mini-baguette with the topping, and garlic mayo, regardless of your combination, it was only $1.99CAD each.  Cheap on the wallet, and cheap on the waist, as each sandwich only had ~230kcal. I guess they were intended for the dieting market.  The Thai Chilli was more sweet than spicy, actually, it wasn't spicy at all, and the pesto was a bit watery, but still decent.  In retrospect, I probably should have tried the Thai Chilli on the crispy chicken.  I guess in order to keep costs down, they do not include any veggies on the sandwich, and I think even a simple pieces of lettuce would have made it even better.  I just checked www.mcdonalds.ca and they are still on the menu, but it seems you no longer have the grilled chicken option, only the crispy chicken.  Also, Pesto has been discontinued and replaced by 'Zesty Mango', which doesn't sound over appealing, but I will give it a go on my next trip home.

Consumed on - 28 May 2010
Price - $1.99CAD = ~$2.00USD
Location - Ojibway Parkway McDonald's - Lasalle Ontario, Canada
Rating - 4/5

02 November, 2011

Kapraw Chicken Rice - Udon Thani, Thailand - July 2011

I have had McDonald's only in Bangkok before, and I had never noticed this on the menu, nor had my Bangkok-based Thai friends ever mentioned it before.  So when I saw these rice dishes on the menu, I had the urge to order all three, and at the price, I nearly did, but as I had lunch just an hour prior I chose the Kapraw Chicken Rice.  I cannot read Thai, so I picked this one randomly because this had egg, and the others didn't.  None of the signs in this McDonald's had English (being in North Thailand, near the Laos border, one shouldn't expect it anyway), but the receipt was in English, so that's how I found out what its called. Hopefully on my next trip to Thailand they will still have that fish one, as it looks pretty good too.  When I ordered it, I had to go sit down and wait for about 5-10 minutes as they did not have any rice prepared, being 4pm, and not really anyone else in the restaurant, I was surprised.  Though, when I did get served, it was definitely worth the wait.  It didn't taste like McDonald's at all!  First off, because it was cooked to order, it was piping hot, the egg was soft, and the chicken was very flavourful and slightly spicy. Upon further research, Kapraw sauce is a Thai-basil based sauce, and I brought a few packages of it from Tesco's to bring back to Korea.  Also, I couldn't believe the size of the portion, for only 39THB, just over a dollar, it beats any of the dollar menu items in the rest of the world.

Consumed on - 20 July 2011
Price - 39THB = ~$1.25USD
Location - McDonald's UD Plaza, Udon Thani, Thailand  (Google maps has an outdated image of UT, so the McDonald's nor the shopping complex it is near, exists yet)
Rating - 5/5