WHEN McDonald’s launched its Flavors of Japan limited edition a few years back, even the fast-food chain was surprised at how strong the promotion turned out to be. The lineup—Ebi Burger (shrimps), Teriyaki Samurai Burger (beef), Nori Shake Shake Fries (seaweed dust), and Strawberry Sakura McFloat—was so formidable that McDonald’s stores everywhere always ran out of supply by mid-day. I tried to order for delivery several times but was always told they had sold out. And so the campaign ended without me getting a taste of my much coveted Ebi Burger at all. I only got to taste it when they made a second run of the Flavors of Japan promotion—with perhaps double the supply they had the first time around—and I happily munched on my Ebi Burger not once but twice.
Now comes McDonald’s Taste of Korea line, which is available for a limited time only. Once again, the buzz on social media was strong, and K-Chicken Burger, K-Beef Burger, Honey Butter Shake Shake Fries, and Strawberry Banana Sundae earned the nod of most netizens, including well-known chefs and influencers.
The K-Chicken Burger is a huge and crispy chicken fillet slathered with rich gochujang sauce, topped with lettuce, slivers of onion, kimchi dressing and cheddar cheese, sandwiched in a soft black sesame bun. Koreans love their food spicy, but this burger is, thank God, of just the right level of spiciness. Perfect for the Filipino palate.
The K-Beef Burger is a generous beef patty that is also bathed in a mildly spicy gochujang sauce, topped with lettuce, onion bits and kimchi dressing, no cheese but with fried egg, sandwiched in a soft black sesame seed bun.
The Honey Butter Fries that goes very well with either sandwich is actually regular McDonald’s fries that comes with a Shake Shake Fries paper bag and a sachet of Honey Butter powder. You pour the fries into the Shake Shake bag, followed by the Honey Butter powder, fold the top to seal, then shake away. Afterwards, you pour the fries back into the famous red McDonald’s fries holder, and enjoy your Honey Butter Fries.
Strawberry Banana Sundae, which serves as a fitting end to a good Korean sandwich meal, is soft serve ice cream drizzled with strawberry banana syrup.
As with the Flavors of Japan promotion, the Taste of Korea offering got me all excited, especially after getting positive feedback from food industry influencers, such as Chef Jackie Ang Po of Fleur de Lys Patisserie and the Pastry Alliance of the Philippines and Spanky Enriquez of RestoPH. My constant FB chatmate and friend—celebrity chef, restaurateur and cookbook author Chef Myke ‘Tatung’ Sarthou—and I decided to try it out, and so he ordered K-Chicken Burger, Honey Butter Shake Shake Fries, and Strawberry Banana Sundae, complete with Coke, for me a few days ago. He had McDonald’s Brookside deliver his treat to my place in Cainta, and he would order his own from a nearby McDonald’s branch in Quezon City later that day.
To cut the long story short, my order arrived. Excited me peeked into the brown bag right away and saw that my K-Chicken Burger was ‘tisoy.’ The chicken fillet was sandwiched in a regular bun and not the black bun that it should have come in. I finished some chores first, and then I sat down to enjoy the burger. It was good, especially with the Honey Butter Fries on the side. The chicken fillet was big, its dimensions exceeding the diameter of the bun, and it was crispy and tasty. I pulled out the onion bits (I don’t like raw onion in my sandwich, or rice, or noodles), and savored every bite. The gochujang sauce was perfect, with the spice level just right for my taste, as I do not like super spicy sauces numbing my taste buds and leaving a bitter aftertaste in my mouth. The only problem was the ‘tisoy’ bun. It kind of took away the full experience of eating the K-Chicken Burger.
So when Chef Tatung—of Simpol fame—asked how the food was, I told him the chicken burger, along with the fries and the sundae, was good, but the bun wasn’t black. I sent him a photo of the burger for him to see. He was horrified. He said we needed to post it and tag McDonald’s so they would know. I hesitated. He said he would post it, not to spite them but to call their attention so that it would not happen again. And he did.
In fairness to McDonald’s Brookside, they got in touch with Chef Tatung and offered to replace the order with the right one. Very quick response. By the next morning, Chef was messaging me, saying he scheduled McDonald’s to send the sandwich at 2:00 p.m., and they were sending not just the K-Chicken Burger but the K-Beef Burger as well, plus the Honey Butter Fries and Strawberry Banana Sundae x 2. Wondering if Chef Tatung was pulling my leg or telling the truth, I got a call from Isa Gutierrez of McDonald’s Brookside. She apologized for the ‘tisoy’ burger, asked what drinks I wanted to go with the double sandwich meals, and reiterated that the food would be delivered at 2:00 p.m.
At 2:00 p.m., the food was there—K-Chicken Burger, K-Beef Burger, two Honey Butter Shake Shake Fries, two Strawberry Banana Sundaes, and two Pineapple Juice drinks. There was so much food in exchange for the ‘tisoy’ burger, which wasn’t bad at all!
While it is true that there is no excuse for a mistake—and McDonald’s Brookside made no excuses for theirs—what matters is that an establishment such as McDonald’s is quick to own up to its mistake, apologize for it, and make amends for it. Everybody makes mistakes.