Three of Japan’s best foodie meccas step into the burger spotlight.

With teriyaki sauce as the star ingredient, the Teriyaki McBurger is already a pretty Japanese sandwich. McDonald’s Japan is making it even more Japanese, though, by releasing three new Teriyaki McBurger versions that each feature special ingredients representing the regional cuisines of three of Japan’s best foodie spots: Hokkaido, Osaka, and Fukuoka.

▼ From top to bottom: Hokkaido Jaga Butter Teriyaki, Osaka Okonomiyaki-style Sauce Tamago Teriyaki, and Hakata [Fukuoka] Mentai Teriyaki Chicken

Collectively, they’ve been dubbed the Otona no Gotouchi Teriyaki, or “Adult Regional Teriyaki,” burgers. Honestly, we’re not exactly sure what makes them “adult,” as two of the three foods serving as inspiration for the burgers are also perennially popular with kids. As immature adults, though, we figure we’re in the target demographic wither way, so our Japanese-language reporter P.K. Sanjun headed out to pick up all three of the Adult Regional Teriyaki McBurgers for a taste test.

● Hokkaido Jaga Butter Teriyaki (450 yen [US$3.20])

For the pork-patty Hokkaido-themed burger, the inspiration is jaga butter, a festival food popular with young and old made of mashed potato drenched in butter (Hokkaido being Japan’s biggest producer of potatoes and dairy products). What the Hokkaido Jaga Butter Teriyaki McBurger’s name doesn’t mention, oddly enough, is that it’s actually a cheeseburger.

For the purposes of this burger, the jaga butter has been whipped into a buttery potato sauce. You might think it’d get lost in the flavor profile compared to the teriyaki and cheese, but the jaga butter sauce makes its presence felt in a surprisingly strong way. If anything, it’s the cheese that as the most subtle effect, playing a supporting role as it comes on as a gentle aftertaste, and P.K. strongly recommends this sandwich to those enjoy rich but not overpowering flavors.

● Osaka Okonomiyaki-style Sauce Tamago Teriyaki (450 yen)

There’s a bit of a rivalry between Osaka and Hiroshima as to which city makes the best version of okonomiyaki, a sort of savory crepe/pancake. Osaka is definitely known as an okonomiyaki town, though, and the savory/sweet Worchester-like sauce used for the dish is what sets the pork-patty Osaka Okonomiyaki-style Sauce Tamago Teriyaki McBurger apart. As for the “Tamago” part of the name, that refers to the thick fried egg that sits atop the patty.

With both okonomyaki and teriyaki sauces, P.K. figured he was in for a very saucy sensation here, and that was instantly confirmed as he bit into the burger. But hey, a burger doesn’t have to surprise you as long as it delights you, and this one definitely did. Like jaga butter, okonomiyaki is something that’s popular with both adults and kids, and with the Osaka Okonomiyaki-style Sauce Tamago Teriyaki McBurger’s strong, straightforward flavors, P.K. thinks it’d be the one kids would enjoy the most out of the three Adult Regional Teriyaki sandwiches.

● Hakata Mentai Teriyaki Chicken (450 yen)

Hakata is the name of the liveliest section of downtown Fukuoka, a city famous for mentaiko (spicy cod roe). Riverside food stalls in Hakata sell a kind of chicken seasoned with mentaiko, and that’s the concept behind the Hakata Mentai Teriyaki Chicken fried chicken cutlet sandwich.

Just from appearances, though, we can tell that something might be off here. Usually mentaiko has a red or pink hue, but in P.K.’s photos, the sandwich’s mentaiko sauce looks orange.

Maybe it’s just the lighting at the McDonald’s branch he went to, but the bigger problem is that the sauce didn’t particularly taste like mentaiko to him either. Mentaiko has a mix of spicy and seafood-salty notes, but the sauce on this sandwich was almost exclusively heat, with hardly any cod roe flavor. If McDonald’s were calling it the “Deliciously Fiery Teriyaki Burger” or “Teriyaki Hot Sauce Burger,” P.K. would have no complaints. When you mention mentaiko in the product name, though, you build up an expectation that it’s going to taste like mentaiko, and not delivering on that promise left P.K. feeling disappointed.

That said, with its high spice level, the Hakata Mentai Teriyaki Chicken is the only one in the group that really feels like a sandwich specially made for adults. At the end of the day, though, names aside, all three sandwiches are tasty and satisfying, just as long as you focus more on the flavor than the names.

Top image: SoraNews24
Insert images: McDonald’s, SoraNews24
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[ Read in Japanese ]