A favourite returns…with some surprising new ingredients.

McDonald’s has a revolving roster of menu items that reappear for a limited time every year in Japan, and the Chicken Tatsuta is one of them.

This year, the popular burger has returned to the chain from 20 April, and it’s brought along a new partner with it, called the Shin Tatsuta, with “shin” meaning “new”. Something else that’s “shin” right now is Ultraman, as the hugely popular kaiju franchise is making a return to Japanese cinemas from May, with a new feature film called Shin Ultraman, written and produced by Hideaki Anno.

To celebrate the hotly anticipated upcoming film, McDonald’s is teaming up with the franchise to pay homage to the Ultraman of past and present with the two Tatsuta burgers. The regular Chicken Tatsuta comes with the tagline “帰ってきたチキンタツタ” (“Kaette kita Chicken Tatsuta”), which translates to “Return of Chicken Tatsuta” and is a direct reference to “帰ってきたウルトラマン” (“Kaette kita Ultraman”), the ’70s series known as “Return of Ultraman” overseas.

▼ Both burgers use the same font on their packaging as the one seen in Ultraman films and TV shows.

Another nice nod to the series is evident in the packaging, where the old Ultraman version is used for the regular burger (pictured on the left in the photo above), and the new Ultraman from the upcoming movie is seen on the Shin Tatsuta (pictured on the right). What differentiates the old from the new is the “colour timer” on the chest — the old one has it, while the new one doesn’t.

▼ The Chicken Tatsuta (left) retails for 390 yen (US$3.04), while the Shin Tatsuta is a little more expensive, at 420 yen.

Our Japanese-language reporter Mr Sato loves kaiju flicks almost as much as he loves his burgers, so he got to work on inspecting this Tatsuta duo.

The chicken in the new one on the right seemed a lot thicker than the regular version, and when he raised the bun on each, he found that size wasn’t the only difference between them.

▼ The Chicken Tatsuta contained more simple ingredients — shredded cabbage, ginger soy sauce, chicken, and a creamy sauce.

The Shin Tatsuta was a lot more colourful, with a good dollop of tartar sauce sitting atop the chicken. Beneath it, the shredded cabbage was slathered in nanban sauce, which is made with rice vinegar, soy sauce, mirin and sugar. This combination of fried chicken, tartar sauce, and nanban sauce is designed to reproduce the taste of nanban chicken, which is a specialty dish of Miyazaki Prefecture.

▼ Hence the burger’s full name: Shin Tatsuta Miyazaki Meibutsu Chicken Nanban Tartar (“New Tatsuta Miyazaki Specialty Chicken Nanban Tartar”)

Mr Sato started with the old-style burger, which tasted like it always does — crispy chicken, fluffy buns, and a hint of ginger soy sauce. Absolutely fantastic, and it’s no wonder it makes a triumphant return to the menu year after year.

When he bit into the New Chicken Tatsuta, the fluffy buns provided a satisfying mouthfeel yet again. However, this time Mr Sato’s taste buds were greeted by the deliciously sour tang of the nanban sauce. This lifted the flavour profile into a whole other realm, and Mr Sato wasn’t sure if he liked it.

He’d never tasted a Tatsuta like this before, and although Mr Sato likes nanban chicken, the tartness of the vinegar was surprisingly strong here. While that may be perfect for some palates, for Mr Sato, it just wasn’t what he wanted on his Chicken Tatsuta. Call him old-fashioned, but the old version was just more his style.

Regardless of whether you like your Chicken Tatsutas plain or with fancy new ingredients, customers in Japan will no doubt be pleased to see the familiar burger back on the menu for a limited time. It’s only available until the end of May, though, so you’ll want to get in quick to try them, otherwise you’ll have to settle for a chicken nanban lookalike burger at Doo Wop in Tokyo.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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