QP 2

For those of us born without trust funds, there will be precious few purchasing decisions in life where cost is no object. As a result, it’s important to take advantage of, and savor, that rare opportunity to purchase the very top of the line, whether it takes the form of preferred parking or double-ply toilet paper.

Or, as it did for us at RocketNews24 recently, McDonald’s most expensive Quarter Pounders ever.

The two upmarket burgers that grabbed our attention are the Quarter Pounder BLT and the Quarter Pounder Habanero Tomato, both of which will be hitting McDonald’s branches across Japan on June 24.

“Hey, wait a second!” some of our more attentive readers might be thinking. “Didn’t you already do a habanero burger taste test? Isn’t this just an excuse to stuff your faces again?” And you’d be half right. True, stuffing our faces is our primary motivation for getting out of bed, mainly because we don’t want to get barbeque sauce on the sheets. But while we recently covered McDonald’s Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder on our travels in the USA, the Japan-spec Quarter Pounder Habanero Tomato is a slightly different beast, with distinguishing features we’ll get into in a moment.

The exact prices of the two new items vary by region, but the Quarter Pounder BLT’s range of 520-570 yen (US$5.35- $5.90) makes it the most expensive sandwich McDonald’s has ever offered in Japan. The Quarter Pounder Habanero Tomato is also a few strata removed from the value menu, priced at 480-520 yen (US $4.95-$5.35).

Sticker shock aside, we were pretty amped for this affordable luxury. The bulk of McDonald’s menu is made up of serviceable food at rock-bottom prices, so the promise of what the chain could cook up by working with a larger budget convinced us to take the plunge and order both new Quarter Pounders.

QP 3

First up was the BLT. Like all McDonald’s hamburgers, the patty is 100 percent beef, unlike some Japanese chains that cut theirs with pork. It’s a burger that respects the groundwork laid by the generations of meaty sandwiches that came before it, with no cheap shock tactics just for the sake of being different. Befitting its name, the burger comes with bacon plus fresh lettuce and tomato, and the whole thing is slathered with cheese.

QP 1

QP 5

Looking at it, we were a little worried that the moisture from the vegetables might result in a soggy texture and sloppy flavor, but as is so often the case, the bacon was our savior.

QP 9

With crispy edges and just the right amount of salt, the flavorful strips pull the whole experience together. As we chewed, we became aware of the burger’s singular unorthodox touch of sweet lemon sauce, which filled our taste buds and sinuses with the sensation of a gentle summer breeze. The Quarter Pounder BLT may not have done much to surprise us, but it certainly satisfied us.

QP 4

If the BLT plays things by the book, the Quarter Pounder Habanero Tomato is its loose cannon partner that transfers into the precinct 10 days before the BLT is set to retire.

QP 10

Japan’s Quarter Pounder Habanero Tomato lacks the bacon of America’s Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder, but instead seems to feature a stronger presence of garlic in its seasoning.

QP 14

QP 13

Of course, the Quarter Pounder Habanero Tomato’s marquee ingredient is its sauce made from the legendarily powerful habanero chili pepper. We steeled ourselves for the heat and took a bite.

QP 11

Hey, what gives? This isn’t spicy at a-aaaaaah there it is!

After a brief moment in which we thought we’d been duped, the spice didn’t so much hit us as invade, forcing its way into our palate like a blitzing middle linebacker covered in hot sauce.

But despite the intense rush of spice, the moisture from the tomato, lettuce, and onions eases it into a sort of sweetness. Initially hidden by the more dynamic flavor of the habanero sauce, the garlic and other seasonings slowly work their magic, making the Quarter Pounder Habanero Tomato enjoyable to more than just hard core spice fiends. Before we realized it, we’d eaten the whole thing.

So do these burgers justify the high prices McDonald’s is asking? Well, when we think of a gourmet burger, we tend to picture it being made from expensive ingredients, such as Kobe beef, Roquefort Cheese, or diamonds. The two new upmarket sandwiches both use the same patties as the standard Quarter Pounder however, so we wouldn’t classify either one as haute cuisine, just tasty upgrade to McDonald’s regular fare with a price bump to match.

QP 17

If these two new menu items still seem a little rich for your blood, swing by any of the four McDonald’s branches in Tokyo’s Shibuya, where a special offer until June 23 will get you one of these premium Quarter Pounders plus a medium order of fries and a drink for just 500 yen ($5.15). Even when you’re rolling large, a deal’s still a deal.

Photos: RocketNews24
[ Read in Japanese ]