12 February, 2015

Tonkatsu Burger (とんかつマックバーガー) - Japan - November 2014

Purchased on 22 November 2014, at Tokyo Narita Airport, Narita, Japan
Consumed on 24 November 2014, in Singapore
Burger Price - 380JPY = $3.16USD
Calories - 407kcal

My colleague flew this burger down from Japan for me together with the New Gracoro Burgers at the end of November 2014.  I've held off reviewing this burger because I didn't really like how the photos turned out, so much so, that if the Crab Croquette Burger wasn't available when I visited Japan recently, I would have tried it again. I'm not sure what it is about them exactly, but I really think that my photos made this burger look totally unappealing, when in fact, this was one of the tastier Regular Menu items I've had in a long time!  To give a bit of background, Tonkatsu is a traditional fried port cutlet sold in Japan.  What makes it special is not the pork itself, but rather its delicate breading and its surprisingly difficult-to-perfect tonkatsu sauce.  You can find tonkatsu served a variety of ways, but traditionally it's always served with shredded cabbage, which was the sole vegetable topping on this burger.  McDonald's Japan launched it as a promotional burger in May 2014 where it sold out within days of release.  McDonald's then brought it back as a new regular menu item in November together with an "improved" tontaksu sauce.  According to Team Yellow, McDonald’s established a 15 member “Everyone Tonkatsu Sauce Research Group” from a selection of 3,000 applicants who worked together with McDonald’s "sauce engineers" to come up with the best possible flavours for this new sauce.  I felt it was a bit daring to change up the sauce when the original was so popular, but I have a feeling this was more tactical supply decision now that it was on the menu full time, if they had to change the sauce now that it's on the regular menu at least they wouldn't get called out because of it from the lovers of the original.  

When I ate burger it had already survived 8 hours on a plane, then 2 nights in a freezer before I re-heated it. Being a pork based patty it somehow made me a little more worried about getting food poisoning, so I cooked this burger a bit more thoroughly more than I would have other flown in food.   I did my best not to burn it, but that slight overcooking is probably why the burger looks pretty disgusting in my photos. Overcooking and age aside, this burger was surprisingly tasty.  The pork patty held up well enough, in that it wasn't a completely dry failure of a patty which does happen with my flown in reviews.  Not sure if that was because it's pork, or because of the tonkatsu breading, but either way, it was still very good.  But real standout of this burger was the sauce!  The sauce had the exact sesame and garlic flavour I would expect from a tonkatsu sauce - The Everyone Tonkatsu Sauce Research Group did well indeed. Now I'm only left dreaming how much better the original was...
Rating - 4/5