14 March, 2017

Daigaku Imo Fries (大学いもの味) - Okinawa, Japan - February 2017

McDonald's Japan Daigaku Imo Fries (大学いもの味) - Okinawa, Japan - February 2017
Daigaku Imo Box (大学いもの味)

Consumed on 20 February 2017
Location - McDonald's Kokusai Dori, Naha, Okinawa, Japan
Combo Price - 330JPY - $2.87USD ala carte. 60JPY - $0.52USD with a meal.
Calories - 503kcal

McDonald's Japan Receipt February 2017
A couple weeks ago when I was able to review the Chicken Taruta (チキンタルタ) I paid the 60JPY add-on to get myself an order of the Daigaku Imo Fries alongside my burger.  Daigaku Imo roughly translates to "College Potato" and it's traditionally a candied sweet potato snack which is supposed to be a cheap, calorie-dense meal for students on a budget.  Unlike McDonald's Australia and Singapore, McDonald's Japan didn't want to give proper sweet potato a try, so they topped their standard fries with the Honey-Sesame sauce that usually glazes the original...but at least they didn't try to make it into a pie!

Like the rest of their previous "squeeze fries" items, the fries are served in a small low lipped box, completely unseasoned, to which you need to break the seal on the sauce packet (by folding it backward and squeezing) and spread it all around.  These unique packages were released a couple years ago with the American Vintage Cheese & Bacon, and I've had them a couple other times over the years, but most recently in with the McChocolate Potato (マックチョコポテト) when it was McDonald's Japan first attempt with a sweet sauce flavour.  Last year around Halloween they had a Pumpkin and a Chocolate Pumpkin flavour, but apparently sweet, but I wasn't lucky enough to try (or get someone to send me) either flavour.

As expected, the fries are just standard McDonald's fries, so really the only thing I can speak about is the sauce.  The sauce was mostly honey, but clearly not 100% honey as it was less thick, and noticeably less sweet than just honey would have been. I couldn't find a full ingredient list anywhere online, but it didn't seem like it was cut with any additional sugar or fructose as it wasn't sickeningly sweet, so it was likely the sesame paste included gave it that consistency and subtleness. The problem was that the honey hid pretty much any other flavour in the sauce.  I tasted absolutely no sesame flavour even when I tried to pick out some of the whole black sesame seeds to eat them individually. I suspect the strong honey flavour was because they used  low quality honey, and when I looked it up online I found that it was actually from China, which explains that, but interestingly enough the black sesame seeds come from Myanmar, and the sesame paste comes from Paraguay of all places.  The honey didn't even wash out just the sesame, but also the fries in general.  Every bite tasted only like the sauce, whether or not you had a small drop worth, or your fry were covered in it.  I wonder if the sauce for College Potato that you'd eat outside of McDonald's used slightly higher quality ingredients than this, as I was pretty disappointed, especially for Japan.  

This is definitely one of those items that sounds interesting on paper and probably only to get people to pay the 60 Yen to give it a try once, but I couldn't find any redeeming quality from it.  Maybe there's something nostalgic about it that only Japanese that grew up eating the real College Potato could understand, but three of us tried it that afternoon, and not a single one of us wanted to eat more than a handful of fries...so we threw out more than 1/2 the portion.  
Rating - 1.5/5

McDonald's Japan even has 6 different box designs for this fry.  I don't think previous editions went anywhere near this far, so I'm not sure what prompted this. With the stickiness of that sauce, it's not like you could collect them. Speaking of which - one big change from previous fries was that the plastic fork they provide was 100% necessary for this version as that sauce was sticky, and you didn't want it anywhere near your hands.