“It’s not the worst we’ve seen…in fact it’s the best. That’s why it’s so troubling.”
~Internal Memo to AFFotD’s ‘Goddamn it Japan, You’re Doing it Wrong’ Staff
We’re going to be honest here. When we decided to do our latest “Goddamn it, Japan, You’re Doing it Wrong” segment on McDonald’s in Japan, we were really worried. Hell, we’ve already told you about McDonald’s in Japan was only so happy to follow Burger King off into the “black-burger-buns” abyss last year, so we anticipated a lot of terrifying concoctions. Google’s translation of the official Japanese McDonald’s website didn’t do much more to instill any confidence in us.
And we went through the menu items, and the limited time items, and all that Japan McDonald’s has to offer, and what we found was…strangely not as terrifying as we feared. The Cheese Tsukimi Burger is a chicken patty, which is boring but whatever, with two slices of bacon, a fried egg, cheddar cheese, and a ketchup/mayo sauce that we’d actually eat! Japan manage to avoid every bad impulse they had to put pineapple on their Hawaiian Burger, and instead went with a ¼ pound burger with egg, bacon, cheese, and a bun topped with grated cheese, which sounds kind of great! In fact, Japanese McDonald’s manages to create a surprisingly varied menu where most items look pretty tasty, and with most only going into “sorta weird, but not gross weird” territories of like, a hamburger with pastrami on it, or a savory version of the apple pie filled with bacon and potato. We’d try those out of hesitant curiosity, as opposed to what we normally cover in our articles on Japan, which is foods we’d try out of masochistic fear.
But this is Goddamn it, Japan, You’re Doing it Wrong, goddamn it. And we have a reputation to maintain. So yes, McDonald’s in Japan is largely interesting, and seems to be slightly more upscale than what we’re used to here in America, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have terrifying, horrific duds in their expansive menu.
Goddamn it, Japan, You’re Doing it Wrong: Japanese McDonald’s
McDonald’s first came to Japan in 1971, which might explain why it hasn’t had to fall to the same gimmicky approaches as other American fast food establishments looking to get ruined by Japanese culture that aren’t as firmly entrenched. That could be why most of their hamburgers range from “good” (teriyaki burger, huh) to “why is that not in America?” (the above Mega Mac). But, if ever there was an Achilles’ Heel to Western institutions expanding to Japan, it’s the maddening desire to keep going until you’ve taken a good idea and turned it into a monstrosity. Sort of like botched plastic surgery—the moment you do too much, it’s ruined forever.
And while a lot of menu options at a McDonald’s in Japan might have you saying, “You look great, have you had work done?” the following sandwiches have gone full cat lady.
Hot and Groovy Beef
When Googling Hot and Groovy Beef, we were honestly surprised that they just had pictures of this sandwich. We suspect Bing would have given us a much more treacherous list of results. And as a sandwich, it starts out promising. Two beef patties, cheddar cheese (yum!), white cheddar cheese (sure!), corn starch covered buns (we don’t know the importance of that but okay!), salsa (…uh, maybe?) and tartar sauce (okay we’ve gone off the rails people). You were doing so well, and then you had to fuck it up with the condiments. Salsa on a burger is kind of weird, because in general dips do not go on hamburgers, which is why you’d assume anyone putting ranch dressing on their burger was eight years old at the oldest. Salsa goes well with nachos, but doesn’t really scream “put me on meat!” We originally were going to make a joke about salsa being something that goes on burgers but, like, only burgers you’d find at Chili’s, but apparently even Chili’s doesn’t want to fuck with that.
So right off the bat, salsa? No.
But…salsa and tartar sauce? The fuck is wrong with you, Japan? That’s like mixing mayonnaise and ketchup to make thousand island dressing, only instead of an okay salad dressing, you’re left with a gaping hole from where some higher power struck the plate with lightning to kill the sin it just saw created. We’re not trying to make you sick, but salsa is chunky, tartar sauce is chunky, yada yada yada, you’re eating a burger with the same texture as vomit. You’re welcome for that mental image.
Beverly Hills Burger
Listen, Japan McDonald’s, we appreciate your gumption here, but you gotta stop putting things on your burger after like, the third topping. Because a guacamole and cheese covered burger? Sure! We could probably get behind that. Toss an egg-mcmuffin-ized egg on there? Like, we mean…maybe? No, but, no that’s too…oh God, wait, why are you putting Caesar salad dressing on all that? What is wrong with you for fuck’s sake? You just made a Caesar salad, tossed an egg in there, added guacamole, and then at the last minute decided to turn it into a burger because you’re probably pregnant and you have all these cravings right now that you can’t make any sense of. This is actively terrifying, and we’re not even addressing the grave issue of putting a salad on top of a damn burger. Who the hell was involved in the meeting to create this, and, more distressingly, what was the order of the agreed upon ingredients? Because we’re secretly terrified that they started with the Caesar salad on a burger idea, and then just had a collective stroke and wrote down whatever they thought they were tasting while their left arms went numb.
They then died, and they combined all the ingredients written down in their final moments to make one final burger in line with their last wishes.
German Sausage Chicken
McDonald’s food isn’t that complicated, people. You can add toppings or condiments all you want (it is a focus of the Big Mac jingle) but don’t get crazy with the proteins. The German Sausage Chicken did not get the memo. They take a lemon-flavored chicken patty on a steamed rye bun (McDonald’s in Japan really puts a weird amount of focus on their buns, and we barely stopped ourselves from making a sharking joke there), and add German sausage. Oh, sorry, we meant “a 4-year-old’s definition of German sausage” because it’s bologna, it’s just a hunk of bologna. This weird mesh of flavors and textures that should not be is then topped with dill mustard, pickled cabbage, mozzarella cheese, and yellow sweat stains appearing under the armpits of all of your shirts because look at you, you’re disgusting.
If you’re thinking “where’s the bologna on the sandwich? It’s not in the picture” we’re sorry to inform you that this sandwich doesn’t have any tomato on it. Look at the picture again with that knowledge wiggling in your brain. We’re so sorry to be doing this to you.
This is a burger made of ground shrimp, which your nightmares didn’t know was a thing they could start incorporating in your food terrors until now, so you’re welcome for that. Anyway, this is the bestselling burger in Japan, and apparently isn’t really abhorrent in taste, but we have to put it on here because the concept of grinding up a bunch of shrimps and haphazardly frying it in burger form activates some primal fear center in our brains. We can’t explain it. There’s no inherent difference between making a filet-o-fish and a filet-o-shrimp, but still, our souls are crying, and we don’t know why.
Finally, we’ve got the Croquette Burger, which admittedly is largely on this list as a protest against French things making it into our fast food (shut up, we invented French Fries, and you’re not as clever as you think in bringing up that incongruity), the croquette burger is a seasonal burger that’s flour and potato and macaroni fried up and served on a bed of cabbage, which we have to assume is a misprint that’s supposed to say “another starch. Rice maybe? Fuck if we care”. Some people think it tastes good, but we’re not here to get brainwashed, you damn frogs. There’s also a crab version of this that was released last year, which does nothing to make us change our mind in trashing it. You might say, “You’re being close-minded, if you actually bothered and tried it, you’d find that it’s delicious,” which is your right until America passes that “Free Speech Unless We Don’t Like It” amendment that we’re working on, but we’d respond with, “Fuck you, Frenchy, don’t you got a country to surrender” at which point we’d make a bunch of fart noises with our mouth until you went away. Who’s immature now, Pierre?
What’s that? Lalala, we’re not listening, your tastes are wrong, lalala.
The lesson as always. Goddamn it, Japan. Even when you’re kind of doing it right, you’re still doing it wrong.