Sitting on the quiet train in Tokyo comes the sound, “ba da ba ba baaa” from a pigtail clad little girl as she eagerly pulls on her mom’s coat, unable to suppress her excitement for a family trip to Mcdonald’s. The king of all fast food has become a form of childhood nostalgia and household name within Japan.
Different Culture, Different Menu!
Even blindfolded, the particular smell wafting from within the golden arches can not be mistaken anywhere in the world, and the island country is no different. Walking into a Mcdonald’s in Japan may come as quite a surprise for an American, there are no screaming kids, mad rush to grab and go, and strangely immaculate.
The menu items is unlike the western world, from shrimpy burgers to hot soups. This is a country that likes to get creative with food, and Mcdonalds is no different. For those foreigners who prefer to stick with what they’re familiar with, Japan has all the American classics; quarter pounder, double quarter pounder, big mac, hamburger, cheeseburger, double cheeseburger. And the infamous chicken mcnuggets. But you’re in Japan for God’s sakes! If you’re going to go to Mcdonalds, step outside of your comfort zone and get yourself an Egg Cheese burger! If you’re the adventurous type, go straight for the chocolate covered fries:
Let’s check out some of the other different items on the Japanese menu:
Daigaku Imo French Fries
Japan is constantly throwing limited-edition and seasonal items out, and the newest is the “Daigaku Imo French fries!” Daigaku imo meaning college potato. The idea comes from a popular snack eaten by broke college students that is commonly made out of sweet potatoes. But this item will be made with the classic Mcdonald’s fries but topped with sweet honey, sesame sauce along with black sesame seeds. The Daigaku imo French Fries are priced at 330 yen and they’ll be joining the menu February 15th for a limited time!
If you miss out on these Japanese college student inspired treats, fret not! There are specialty menu items being released all the time.
A burger that can be found annually is the mouth watering Gurakoro prawn and macaroni croquette burger (Yes, Macaroni!!!!), and of course the McChocolate french fries that left everyone stunned at how confusingly delicious it was. During Halloween 2014, Mcdonald’s released the Ikasumi or squid ink burger with completely black buns and in 2016 the uber popular Halloween Choco Potato topped with black and orange chocolate and pumpkin sauce.
There’s even releases for traditional events such as the Moon Viewing Festival where a Full moon cheese tsukimi burger popped up on the menu:
If you’re an American, ordering your favorites at a Japanese joint, at a quick glance you may be disappointed that the burger looks a little smaller, there aren’t as many fries but you could’ve sworn you ordered a large and what’s with the kiddie cup? The portions might be smaller, and a little pricier (not that much) but the menu items available make up for that! Japan offers 17 types of burgers and sandwiches, which is more than America! Which includes:
Teriyaki Burger with a beef patty, lettuce and mayo inside a sesame patty drenched in yummy teriyaki sauce.
Shrimp Filet-o is filled with a breaded shrimp burger, lettuce and a rich sauce similar to tartar all inside sesame buns.
Egg cheese burger a.k.a Egchi has the Mcdonald’s breakfast sandwich egg, ketchup, cheese and a beef patty surrounded by the classic cheese burger buns.
Barbecue Pork Burger a.k.a Babepo is a burger bun filled with grilled pork patty, lettuce, pickles, onions and American bbq sauce.
Chicken tartare burger is a crispy chicken burger with lettuce and an awesome potato egg and tartare sauce!
McDonald’s also had a limited edition Premium Burger! Chris from the YouTube Channel “Abroad in Japan” reviewed it a few years ago:
What about the sides?
Japanese sides include Shakachiki with is crispy chicken that comes in three flavours, regular, cheddar cheese and red pepper. And warm corn cream and minestrone soups.
Japanese Quality Service
Food isn’t the only thing that’s awesome about Mcdonald’s in Japan, you feel like you’re walking into an actual family restaurant! Not the loud teenagers, overflowing trashcans, stressed out employees with grim expressions and screaming children (Emphasis on screaming) chains you’ll find next to big box stores in North America.
First thing you will notice at Mcdonald’s in Japan is the lack of a pushy crowd, and no one seems to be in a hurry. This is because visiting the fast food giant is more of a special opportunity for Japanese people to try American food, not something they quickly grab because it’s convenient and cheap. They have ramen for that!
At the register, there is a smiling and helpful employee ready to take your order with a menu for those who prefer pointing due to their Japanese being limited to “konnichiwa“. Once arriving at a seat with your food and there is a feeling of awe at how clean everything is! Not a single napkin on the floor or smeared sauce on the table. Culturally, Japanese people are very considerate of others and always clean up after themselves, plus the crazy efficiency of the work force.The other day my order took longer than usual to be ready, and when it finally came the employee escorted me to the exit and bowed to apologize! But that’s still not the best part.
Imagine being in bed with pyjamas and you suddenly have an urge to eat a big mac. But you don’t want to get out of bed so instead with a click of a button, 15 minutes later, a man with the magical golden arches on his shirt arrives at your door with the burger in hand. But that’s just a dream…or is it? Yes! McDonald’s delivers in Japan! Using their online service, you can really get that big mac at your door.
On that note, it’s safe to come to the conclusion that everything really is better in Japan! Mcdonald’s included. It’s probably the only place in the world that Ronald Mcdonald’s jaw drops when he takes a bite out of the teriyaki burger while sitting at a sparkling, clean table. Which yummy burger would you try from the “Maku-donarudo” menu? Do you prefer Mcdonald’s in Japan or America?