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What the hell has McDonald's China done now?

'Drunk food with Chinese characteristics': we try the new Menu at McDonald's so you don't have to

McDonald's is getting weird again. Really weird. A couple of years ago, culinary explorations into brave new (barely edible) territories were the norm for McDonald's. There was the 'Bacon Mashed Potato Double Beef Burger' (as gross as it sounds) and, more recently, the grey ice cream – which was actually pretty damn good.

Now is the turn of the 'Modern China Burger', a fusion of East and West that will once and for all transcend cultural and culinary boundaries. Or maybe, just maybe, it's just another vaguely offensive attempt to attract a new class of Chinese fast-food goers.

The new seasonal menu at McDonald's also features a curious new nugget, which we guess is similarly aimed at the would-be 'Modern China Burger' eaters. Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the 'Fish-Tofu-Veggie Nuggets'. Barf.

Just an idiot with a plan, a plan to eat some weird burgers...

Like the intrepid investigative lifestyle journalists that we are, we couldn't resist the urge to go out and try for ourselves. Like a car crash you can't peel your eyes away from, this culinary Hindenburg was too good to ignore.

I'll have a weird burger, some horrible-sounding nuggets and a serious rethink of my career choices to go, please.

Editor Lee Williamson and Food and Drink Editor Nick Gollner walked across the street from Time Out Towers and bought each of the above mentioned 'dishes'. They then retired to their desks to sample the food and talk about it on WeChat, like the total nerdlingers that they are. The following is a transcript of that WeChat conversation:

LW Okay, so what is this bad boy?

NG Is that cheese? No, I guess it's some kind of ‘Modern Chinese’ special sauce?

LW Yeah, but seriously, what the hell is this? I've never dreaded McDonald's so much in my life.

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The Modern China Burger, with some not-so-subtle product placement for Time Out's new merch in the background. We love the merch. Cut us and we bleed merch.

LW [Opens packaging] Oh f**king holy God.

NG So Sichuan pepper ketchup is a thing, I could be into that.


The advertising.

NG Wow, I have never been so grateful for the numbing properties of ma in my life.

LW [Takes first bite] Oh yeah, that peppercorn hits you. Not bad.

LW This is why I don't do food blogs. Man, just roll me out when there's a luxury car to be driven at the Ritz, can you?


The reality. Well, it is upside down, but still.

LW So this is being dubbed the 'Modern China Burger'?

LW It's pork and bacon, right? So pork on pork. That's pretty Chinese, I guess.

NG Double the pork, double the happiness.

LW True. I heard that China consumes half of the world's pork. I guess with monstrosities like this, it's easy to see how.

NG Except this pork tastes more like a cheap breakfast sausage than any Chinese roast pork I’ve ever been happy to encounter.

NG I think I would prefer it if the mantou bun were replaced with two more pork patties.

LW Hmm, yeah. What's the deal with the bread? It's mantou? I get that: mantou + burger = 'Chinese'. But why the hell is it grey? Surely grey is the last colour you want your food to be?

NG Well it isn't active charcoal, that's for sure. I think it's black sesame.

NG If you're bothering to add black sesame to my mantou, at least go all the way – you can't taste it at all. Maybe they meant the 'Modern Beijing Burger'?

LW Fluffy grey buns to represent clouds of pollution?

NG Nothing stimulates my appetite like respiratory failure.

LW Indeed. Oh, it's black sesame? That makes sense.


Editor Lee Williamson digging the Modern China Burger.

LW The worst thing? I actually quite like this burger. I can totally imagine ordering this weekend a few pints in. It's dangerous.

NG It’s frightening... I actually agree.

NG If you know what you’re getting into, and I expect you do if you've just walked into McDonald's, you could do a lot worse. I actually like the sauce and the pork patty combo.

LW I really wanted to hate it and disparage it for jokes, but I find it surprisingly palatable – kinda like Coldplay.

NG The Coldplay of burgers.

LW Yeah. The Chinese fast food Coldplay – I wanna hate it but it's too lovable. I'm into it.

NG I was going to say more like the Justin Bieber or Chinese fast food. So much fun to hate, and really a soulless and offensive bastard deep down, but in my car, alone, and utterly unwatched, you know I’m really enjoying it.

LW Massive lolz.

LW The bun kinda gets stuck in your teeth.

NG Yea, you would think that the mantou would actually be the best part, this being the land of steamed bread, but alas, way too sticky and not nearly salted enough.

NG Also the shredded lettuce, Sichuan-Thousand Island dressing mess just shoots out all over your desk – not a pretty picture.

LW I love how you're actually giving a thoughtful critique to a f**king Maccas horrorshow grease monger. Let's call it what it is: drunk food with Chinese characteristics.

LW Love that sauce. Really hate leaning on this cliché, but it's like Ronald [McDonald] shifu took Thousand Island Sauce and turned it up to 11.


The packaging is innocent enough, but it can't hide the Pandora's Box of worms that lies within.

NG Those fish, tofu f**kers on the other hand... are a sin against god and nature.

LW Okay, you've moved onto the weird tofu/fish nugget things?

NG Why? It’s all I can say.

LW Holy Jesus. This isn't a nugget; it's a war crime.

NG I actually was into the idea of fried chicken nugget-style fish cake.


Just some harmless nugs... or are they?

LW Someone call the Nobel committee: these genius chemists have managed to fuse both rubber and cardboard into one bite. (Oh, and 'fish' and 'tofu', apparently).

NG They are so utterly devoid of anything resembling food it's hard to take them seriously. You half expect it to have a warning on the bottom like 'Manufactured in a facility that also processes food'.

NG I would have more respect for these fried slices of gelatinous Pee-wee Herman turd if they actually had any flavour; they don’t even merit the energy required to chew and swallow.


'Wait for it...' Food Editor Nick Gollner trying the nuggets.

LW Yeah, they do look like clown food. The chunks of colourful veg do have a kind of barfed-up-Funfetti quality to them.

NGFish veggie tofu nuggets’ – the only element they delivered was the 'nugget', and bravo for that. 'Veggie' is a stretch, but there is a visible kernel of corn and even a smear of orange carrot and green pea. But fish? I guess the fish refers more to any poor customer that shells out 11RMB for these things – they've been done up like a right kipper.


There she blows! Proof of 'veggies' in a McDonald's nugget!

LW Okay. I could go on for days about this bollocks. Dessert? I'll go to the freezer...

LW Let's get this out the way first: yes, it looks like snot. Very, very sweet. Tastes like a McDonald’s cheapo version of matcha, which can actually be really good in ice cream. Can't complain I suppose. If you want a quality ice cream and go for a McFlurry, you get what you deserve.

NG I think it has more of a sick baby diarrhoea tint to it.

NG It tastes exactly like those bottled green teas in the bright green bottles. They cost 3RMB and they're the best. This, on the other hand, is harder to swallow at 18RMB.

NG The Oreo was a bad choice; we should have stuck with the original soft serve, sans cookie. The sweet grassy matcha flavour doesn't play so well with the gravel of chocolate wafer.


Soil-covered snot or delicious confection?

LW Again, stop with the over-analysing, Gollner! Our pals over at Smart Beijing have devised a brilliant new rating system for reviews. I reckon we should be early adapters; get in from the ground up. So... how many City Weekend Ami Li's would you give it out of a possible 3.5 City Weekend Ami Li's? #MorganShort.

NG Definitely one Ami Li out of a possible 3.5 Ami Li's. I'm more of Wuyutai gal to be honest – some of the best green tea soft serve in down. At 6RMB you can't go wrong.

LW Super. Final thoughts?

NG I think people should try the new burger for a modern China – 'One bun, two patties'.

LW Ha! Nice. Right, I'm off to throw up.

McDonalds' new menu items are available until November 3 at locations all over the bloody place. Just look out your window right now, odds are you'll see a Maccas.

  • 4 out of 5 stars