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Beijing's latest food craze: grey ice cream

Delicious? Or disgusting? We try the new black sesame ice cream at Macky D's

Beijing's latest food craze costs 5RMB and looks like wet cement.

The new frozen treat, 'black sesame soft serve', arrived in Beijing just in time for the first sunny days of spring. We heard some interesting things about it, both positive and wildly negative, and figured it was time we had a try for ourselves.

Although comparisons to the look and taste of wet cement have been floating about, we quite liked our first run in with McCafe's latest soft serve. Our expert panel of tasters (read: co-workers willing to have ice cream for breakfast in the name of investigative journalism) compared it to 'that instant black sesame breakfast drink we drank as a kid' or simply 'cold sweetened black sesame paste'.

It sort of looks like a black and white photo of an ice cream
has been photoshopped in, right?

To be sure, the swirl of frozen cream is indeed a rather flat grey colour, but the taste has a sweet nuttiness that falls closer to peanut butter than plaster on the flavour spectrum. 'It's like a frozen peanut smoothie from Green Tea,' chimed in another of our esteemed experts, and we quite agree.

We don't recommend dropping everything, or anything for that matter, to run out and try it, but this new addition sure beats the classic vanilla soft serve.

At 5RMB a cone you can afford to try it for yourself and, what's more, when you buy two cones, the second is half price, and you know how much we love a bargain. Next time you and a friend walk past a McDonalds, we recommend investing the 7.5RMB to have a try for yourself, you just might like it.

Ice cream for breakfast – no parents, no rules

Sadly for the American fast food giant, their new grey ice cream is probably the last reason you'll see them in the news these days. Love them or hate them, the golden arches are part of our modern world. Macky D's represents everything wonderful and awful about our globalised world.

With Big Macs next to shrimp patties and apple pies on every continent, it's both a marvel of the industrial food complex and a sinister homogenising agent that harbingers the coming a-cultural culinary apocalypse, quick run and hide your unpasteurised cheese and raw pork sausages.

2014 was not such a great year for McDonalds, with rising tensions between the US and Russia resulting in closures in that country and an exposé by a Shanghai-based reporter that showed a major McDonalds meat supplier repackaging expired meat products for distribution.

Supposedly over 3,000 cases of tainted meat products were shipped. The public outcry resulted in the plant's closure, a sharp drop in McDonalds' China-based sales and perhaps most importantly (for us anyway), no chicken nuggets in northern China. In an effort to restore confidence in their products, McDonalds has run a series of PR campaigns directed at food safety and quality control.

We doubt that this new localised product is part of an elaborate scheme to win back the hearts and minds of Chinese customers, but it is nice to think so.

One way or another, grey ice cream is out there, it's pretty good and it's dirt cheap: go grab one.
  • 4 out of 5 stars