The culinary scene in Japan is one of the best in the world.
From seafood to steak, the Japanese have their food game down, and during my tour of Kyoto, I tried several gourmet meals comprised of traditional dishes with innovative twists.
While this was certainly a treat, I likely consumed more fish paste and tofu in three days than I had previously in my entire life. So when I arrived in Tokyo, I was craving something that tasted like home.
Naturally, I went to McDonald’s.
While I ordered my standard double cheeseburger, I saw a new and surprising item on the menu — chocolate-covered French fries.
The Japanese had again put a new spin on a beloved favorite. The appropriately named “McChoco Potato” — or the “McFry Potato Chocolate Sauce,” as it’s called in Japan — will be officially be unveiled there on Jan. 26. But by some twist of fate, the McDonald’s near my hotel got them early.
An avid connoisseur of all things highly caloric, I immediately asked the cashier for a piping-hot batch of chocolate fries. Actually, I just pointed at the photo and pleaded with my eyes because I have no idea how to say “piping hot” in Japanese.
(Photo: Brittany Jones-Cooper)
The initial impression was good. The box of fries looked crisp and were hot, and had the familiar smell of guilt. Next to the box was a little packet that contained white chocolate and chocolate flavored with cacao.
The chocolate packet was the first hiccup. I’m a dipper who has never understood how people could put ketchup on top of their fries — it’s criminal. But because the packet is designed for you to squeeze the chocolate out, I had little say in the matter. Even though I wasn’t crazy about the chocolate placement, I did enjoy the creative freedom of squeezing it onto my fries.
Then it was time for the taste test.
Sadly, the pretty presentation didn’t live up to the hype. First off, there wasn’t enough chocolate for the fries. The ones on top were moderately covered, but the ones underneath remained naked as the day they were fried.
In fact, I saw two children eating the chocolate fries at a nearby table. After a few bites, the little boy picked up the chocolate packet, squeezing it desperately for one more drop of chocolate. He was unsuccessful.
(Photo: Brittany Jones-Cooper)
In general, the McDonald’s fries in Japan are less salty than their American counterparts — which really works against the chocolate fries. The whole salty-and-sweet combination could be amazing, and when I took the rare perfect bite, there was a little party in my mouth. Unfortunately, the majority of my bites simply tasted like potato. Not horrible, but definitely underwhelming.
Overall, I see this as a missed opportunity. If McDonald’s debuts something as magical as chocolate french fries, it has to be state-fair-worthy. That means the flavor must be rich, and there should be enough chocolate sauce to drown Willy Wonka. If they made the fries a tad more salty, stopped skimping on the chocolate, and made the packet dip-able, I would try them again.
Typically, it’s impossible for me to eat just one McDonald’s fry, but that was not the case with the “McChoco Potato.” After one bite, I could have stopped.
I mean, obviously I didn’t … I ate them all (remember all the fish paste I ate), but it was completely my choice.
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