16 May, 2017

Spicy Jalapeno Chicken Burger (狂惹火辣脆雞) - Hong Kong - May 2017


Spicy Jalapeno Chicken Burger (狂惹火辣脆雞) + Potato Grid (脆薯格). The reviews of the sides will be coming up soon.
Consumed on 09 May 2017
Location - McDonald's Smithfield Road, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong
Spicy Jalapeno Chicken Burger Combo Price - 39.80HKD = ~$5.11USD 
Calories - Unknown
McDonald's Hong Kong Receipt 2017
This actually story starts in Singapore, where I failed to find a Buttermilk Chicken anywhere just a few days prior to ending up in Hong Kong...I mentioned not being able to find it in my last Veggie Crunch review, but I did make one last ditch effort at the Singapore airport to find it by making 2 terminal changes to go visit all the in-airport branches, but alas, I never did get one. If you are ever interested in these exploits, I usually Tweet in real-time amongst other things. The Wife was staying in Singapore for the rest of the week and McDonald's Singapore re-stocked all their branches after I left so she was actually able to give it a try and rub it in a bit, but she wasn't able to get me a Seaweed Sesame McShaker, those never reappeared.

My trip to Hong Kong ended up being a bit last minute, so I didn't really get a chance to check out the menu on the website in advance, and if I did, I probably wouldn't have made such an effort to find one in Singapore as there was a nearly identical burger being sold under the same "Signature Collection" branding in Hong Kong called the "Spicy Jalapeno Chicken Burger", and although there were two other options available, this was the one I went with. 

It was interesting in that the Singaporean promotional material make a huge point in stating that the chicken thigh patty was seasoned with buttermilk, whereas the same patty was being used here in Hong Kong, but it was little more than a token mention on the official website. The Spicy Jalapeno Chicken Burger, true to its name had two different Jalapeno toppings, the first being a Tomato Jalapeno Relish, and then topped off whole sliced pickled Jalapeno peppers.  At first you think, like I did, that the peppers were just part of the relish, but they were called out separately on the official website, and if you looked closely they were also from two different sources as their colour and texture were completely different.  Hidden in there was a whole ring of pineapple, which is something that has appeared on McDonald's burgers in the past, but it's definitely been a few years since I've spotted one.  Also tucked away were grilled onion, whole leaf lettuce, and a "bakery style bun".  When you look back on it, it really was one busy burger!

McDonald's Hong Kong Signature Collection 2017
Since the burger was a part of the "Signature Collection" and supposed to be a premium option, rather than being served in a typical promo box, or paper wrapper, the burger was served in an special open tray, half wrapped, which was a nice bit of presentation, similar to the Create Your Taste plating, but created quite a lot of unnecessary waste. I counted four layers of paper between the food and the tray, three of which were purely decorative. The burger itself didn't look huge on the plate, but it also didn't look like it wasn't worth the money either, I thought it was a pretty decent size for the price.  At $39 HKD, or about $5USD for the combo it was about a 20% premium over standard larger burgers, which wasn't horrible, and worked out to be about $3.50USD cheaper than the smaller burger being sold in Singapore.

When I took my first bite, as expected, the first taste to hit me was the jalapeno.  I love peppers on anything, but I've always felt mass-produced pickled jalapeno peppers have a vinegary flavour that is overpowering for most sandwiches, this was no exception.  But as soon as the vinegar passed, you could really taste the rest of the tomato jalapeno relish, which I thought was easily the star of this burger.  It was chunky, flavourful and had a relative kick it to it, not hot by any means, but zesty enough. The whole leaf lettuce added a nice balance to the zestfulness, but I would have liked slightly larger pieces rather than the three smallish leaves that were on mine.  The chicken, being a fried thigh in a Chinese speaking country, I expected it to be oily, but it was actually pretty tender, I just wasn't getting anything from the buttermilk flavouring at all.  Sure the batter looked a bit different than it usually would, but if you told me it wasn't anything different I would have believed you, because it tasted no different than a standard McChicken patty, but again since it wasn't oily, there wasn't really anything bad about it, just nothing that special.

The real disappointment was the pineapple, as I just didn't see any real purpose of pineapple being on this burger. Every single other topping down to the bun and grilled onions were a "promotional" topping, so they could have probably gone with something simple like tomato to give it a bit of juiciness in an attempt to cut down on the spice from the jalapenos.  The pineapple wasn't even good and of rather poor quality, as mine was very white, with not a hint of yellow at all and very tough, almost like it was the core of the pineapple rather than anything fruity.  At least it wasn't canned, but it really was a poor attempt.

The thing is, even though this had some ups and downs, I rather enjoyed it. It was one of those promo burgers that was just trying a bit too hard with some of it's special toppings, but it would be something I might try again if I was hungry.

Rating - 3.5/5

I just wanted to touch on more of the similarities between The Signature Collection being run in both Hong Kong and Singapore right now. Singapore has two,  Buttermilk Chicken and Angus Cheese. As mentioned, the Chicken shares the same patty as Hong Kong, but it also has pineapple as well.  The Tomato Jalapeno relish and grilled onions that were on my burger? Well, those are served on the Angus Cheese. 

Hong Kong has two other burgers in their range, the first being the Cheesy Champignon Angus Burger. Not much stands out on this one but that it has grilled mushrooms on it, which long time readers know I'll never eat as I cannot stand mushrooms, but it's the same Angus beef patty used in Singapore. 

The Signature Collection 芝味蘑菇安格斯 Cheesy Champignon Angus Burger - Hong Kong 2017
The final option is the Garden Breeze Grilled Chicken Burger.  I probably would have gone with this one had I not wanted to see what the Buttermilk Chicken was about.  The Herb Aloli on this one was also on the Singapore version of the Angus Beef (yes, it uses two sauces), but also Guacamole, which I've never had at McDonald's yet.  The Hong Kong marketing material called its cheese a vague sounding "White Cheese" whereas in Singapore, they specified that it was New Zealand Colby Jack cheese.  They looked pretty similar in the photos, so I'm not sure why they didn't reference it and gave it such an unappealing name? 
The Signature Collection 清新田園烤雞 Garden Breeze Grilled Chicken Burger - Hong Kong 2017