Plus, a brand new contender muscles in on the competition in a big way.

Every year when the September Harvest Moon rises in Japan, the country takes part in a custom known as “tsukimi” or “moon gazing“. It’s become a tradition for the nation’s fast food chains to join in with the festivities as well, by offering a collection of limited-time tsukimi menu items that usually feature a fried egg to resemble the moon itself.

Out of all the chains, McDonald’s and KFC are the most popular when it comes to moon-gazing menu items, so this year we decided to try all the burgers they have on offer. With seven burgers in total, plus a surprise contender from a local coffeehouse chain, this is a mammoth taste test, so sit back, relax and enjoy, as we inspect each burger and consume all the calories for you!

First up, we have the tsukimi burgers from McDonald’s, the chain that first introduced the Tsukimi Burger to the masses back in 1991, ahead of the competition.

This year, they’ve brought back their annual Tsukimi Burger (top left, below) and Cheese Tsukimi Burger (top right). Making its debut for the first time this year is an all-new Sukiyaki Tsukimi Burger (bottom), which is said to contain a meat and vegetable sauce that tastes like sukiyaki (beef hot pot).

▼ The Tsukimi Burger costs 360 yen (US$2.51), while the cheese version costs 390 yen and the sukiyaki version costs 440 yen.

Lifting the top bun off each burger reveals their similarities and their differences. They all contain a creamy rich tomato sauce — an “aurora sauce” which is said to pair well with egg — smeared on the top bun.

▼ Left to right: Tsukimi Burger, Cheese Tsukimi Burger, Sukiyaki Tsukimi Burger

The sukiyaki bun was yellow in hue, suggesting it contains a good amount of butter, but other than that, there were no real differences at this stage. Beneath the bacon layer, they all had a round moon-like fried egg as well.

▼ Beyond the egg, we get to see some differences — cheese for the two on the right…

▼ …and beneath the patty, nothing but bun for the two on the left, but sukiyaki sauce for the burger on the right!

The regular Tsukimi and Cheese Tsukimi burgers tasted as great as they always do, but the burger everyone is most curious about is the new Sukiyaki version. The sukiyaki sauce inside the burger didn’t look like a lot, but as soon as you bite into it, you realise the amount is spot-on for all the ingredients.

It was sweet yet salty, and the flavour of the cheese worked well with the egg to add a creamy richness to the sukiyaki sauce. The buns were delightfully chewy, buttery, and slightly sweet, creating a fantastic blend of harmonious flavours that was moreish and addictive.

▼ The chain’s 31-year history of making Tsukimi Burgers shows in their expert ability to add ingredients that enhance the flavour rather than detract from it.

Now we move on to the KFC tsukimi burgers, of which there are four this year, all under the moniker of “Torori” (“Melty”):

The Torori Cheese Tsukimi Chicken Fillet Sandwich, the Torori Tsukimi Chicken Fillet Sandwich (top row in the image below), and the Cheese Torori Tsukimi Wafu Chicken Katsu Sandwich (“Melty Tsukimi Japanese-style Chicken Cutlet Sandwich”) and the Torori Tsukimi Wafu Chicken Katsu Sandwich (bottom row).

▼ Non-cheese burgers cost 460 yen while cheese versions cost 490 yen

Comparing sizes, we can see that the KFC burgers (bottom, below) are slightly smaller in diameter than the McDonald’s ones (top, below).

Lifting the top bun off the Japanese-style KFC burgers revealed a big mound of sauce and shredded cabbage, which clung nicely to the bread, and two discs of fried egg.

▼ The regular Chicken Fillet burgers contained lettuce instead of cabbage.

▼ Beneath the egg, the Japanese-style burgers had a square-shaped fried cutlet patty…

▼ …and the other two had a big chunk of chicken.

Beneath the meat, buns on both, although the Japanese-style ones had sopped up the soy sauce nicely.

▼ The katsu patties were firm, crispy, and really well-made.

▼ As for size, these Japanese-style cutlets were thickkkk!

They were also surprisingly moist and soft, and the sauce-to-cutlet ratio was just right.

Raw or barely cooked eggs are a signature ingredient in a number of Japanese dishes, and the fried eggs here were super soft, creating a great complement to the Japanese-style cutlet and sauce.

If we were judging this on eggs and meat alone, KFC would take the win for quality and flavour, but considering each burger as a whole, we have to give the trophy to McDonald’s. While the KFC burgers tasted absolutely delicious, the ones with cheese were overpowered by it. The McDonald’s burgers, on the other hand, presented a totally coordinated front, with all the ingredients working together to create a harmonious balance of flavours in each mouthful.

▼ But wait…what’s this?

▼ Whoah — this new contender from left field is bigger than all of them!

The tsukimi burger that had muscled its way into the ring was from Komeda, a famous Japanese coffeehouse chain that’s become known for big servings. Its larger size comes with a larger price tag, though, retailing for 720-790 yen depending on location.

▼ Unlike the others, this one goes by the name “Full Moon Burger“, although it’s so big it feels more like Jupiter than the moon.

▼ Lifting the bun on this one reveals a huge fried egg…

▼ …a huge mound of sauce, with a huge slice of cheese hidden underneath it…

▼ …and a huge beef patty.

▼ Komeda’s egg yolk was nice and soft, so much so that it overflowed when we sliced the burger in two.

Eating this one felt like a sin. Everything about it was huge, including the flavour, but we couldn’t help but feel that the patty should’ve been even bigger, to stand up to all the bold ingredients. Still, a thicker piece of meat would’ve bumped up the price so we couldn’t complain too much.

It was another great burger, but in the end, it didn’t have what it takes to knock either KFC or McDonald’s off their perches. So if you’re in the market for a moon-viewing burger, but don’t have extra money or belly room to spare, we recommend stopping by McDonald’s for your seasonal celebration. Plus, they’ve got a whole family of tsukimi sweets and sides to tempt you while you’re there!

Photos ©SoraNews24
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