- McDonald’s boasts more than 36,000 locations in over 100 countries.
- Across the world, different McDonald’s restaurants have varied and exciting menu items to offer.
- Between Taro Pies, Carbonara fries, and McSpaghetti, there are plenty of items to dig into before returning to your tried-and-true Quarter Pounder.
Boasting over 36,000 locations in over 100 countries, McDonald’s has fashioned itself as one of the world’s most ubiquitous brands. That doesn’t mean you’ll find the same menu at every McDonald’s, though. Instead, the fast-food chain seems to carefully tailor its menus to cater to the diverse communities it serves.
Staples like the Big Mac still remain at some locations, but unexpected twists on existing fare – along with surprising new additions – have become the norm in McDonald’s locations the world over.
Before digging into your tried-and-true Quarter Pounder, take a moment to consider some of these popular staples available to McDonald’s enthusiasts around the world.
China and Hong Kong’s “Taro Pie” could make you rethink dessert.
A notable twist on one of its most classic menu choices, McDonald’s locations in China and Hong Kong have long offered a neon-coloured alternative to its famous apple pie. Deep fried and filled with taro – a root vegetable popular in Asian cuisine – along with a gooey filling meant to resemble ube, or purple yam, it’s a far cry from the 50-year-old pie Americans have grown up with, with reviewers describing the taste as being like a “sweetened” sweet potato.
India’s “Maharaja Mac” is the Big Mac’s not-too-distant cousin.
During an international expansion in the ’90s, McDonald’s faced an Indian subcontinent whose population largely didn’t eat beef, which either abandoning the restaurant’s most iconic item or adapting it to fit local needs – and the latter choice, as we now know, reigned supreme.
Though it might look close enough to a Big Mac, the Maharaja Mac is comprised of different ingredients. Made with a chicken patty, much of the Maharaja Mac remains familiar to Big Mac enthusiasts, save for a leaner patty and a healthy heaping of extra vegetables.
No one knows the convenience of the McRib like Germany does.
Though the McRib was invented in America, it’s not available there year round, but McDonald’s serves the cult sandwich year-round in Germany. Within the McRib is a barbecue-drenched pork patty, though there are no actual pork ribs to be found.
Try the sweet potato-based “Purple McShake” if you’re in Japan.
A recent addition to McDonald’s Japan’s slew of eclectic shake flavours (namely its matcha, peach, and Hokkaido melon), the new Purple McShake departs from the restaurant’s usual fruity offerings, employing murasaki imo, a native Japanese variant of purple sweet potato, savoury in taste.
“Bubur Ayam McD” pays homage to traditional Malay cuisine.
Originally an Indonesian variation of congee (a rice porridge common in East Asian cuisine), McDonald’s introduced its own version for Malaysian customers. Chicken strips, ginger, onion, and chilies add to the porridge for an eclectic combination of flavour and textures popular amongst congee newbies and lovers alike.
Celebrate American-Canadian relations with McDonald’s’ very own poutine.
A fixture of Canadian culture,poutine is undoubtedly one of the most iconic dishes to hail from North America. McDonald’s’ version of the dish combines its signature fries with gravy and cheese curds.
Japan’s “Idaho Burger” is an attempt to bring a taste of the US to Japan.
According to some, the Idaho Burger served at McDonald’s Japan is not the most visually appealing. Nevertheless, the burger captures the culinary essence of the American heartland, made with a beef patty, pepper relish, a hefty hash brown, bacon, and plenty of onions. The burger comes as a part of a larger series of dishes dubbed “Big America.”
Yes, there even is a “McSpaghetti.”
At McDonald’s locations in the Philippines, you can order the McSpaghetti, a dish of al dente spaghetti served with tomato sauce, shredded cheese, and pieces of sausage.
McDonald’s had once trialed spaghetti and other fast-Italian options in America in the late 1980s to little success, so anyone disgruntled by the lack of Italian fare at their local McDonald’s should find some solace in the fact that McSpaghetti has found a home.
McDonald’s pays tribute to Brazil with “Pão de Queijo.”
Loosely translated as “cheese bread,” pão de queijo is a baked, starchy cheese roll that has been a staple in Brazilian diets for centuries, earning its status as one of the country’s most famous dishes. Understanding its ubiquity, McDonald’s started selling the roll at its own locations across Brazil.
Scandinavia is lucky to have the Toblerone McFlurry.
McDonald’s patrons in Denmark and Sweden can order a Toblerone McFlurry, which combines the iconic nougat and honey-flavored triangular chocolate bar with whipped vanilla soft serve ice cream. A regular staple of the McDonald’s menu for over 20 years, the McFlurry has spawned a flurry of creative and regionally-exclusive varieties, the Toblerone McFlurry being no exception.
“Carbonara fries” are a recent addition to the McDonald’s menu in Japan.
The latest to come out of McDonald’s Japan is a simple yet delectable concept: McDonald’s fries topped with a carbonara sauce. Rather than the typical cream, the sauce is made up of a three-cheese blend flavored with bacon and black pepper. Released in October 2018 and available for a limited time, the dish is being sold at most major McDonald’s outlets in Japan.
Cocoa lovers are in for a treat with Singapore’s Hershey’s ice-cream line.
In partnership with the Hershey Company, McDonald’s Singapore announced the creation of the “Chocolate Hershey” series, a collection of signature McDonald’s desserts made with Hershey’s chocolate. “Chocolate Hershey” desserts are available at McDonald’s Singapore outlets for a limited time, and consist of the “Chocolatey McFlurry,” the “Chocolatey Sundae,” and the “Chocolatey Cone.”
McDonald’s in Japan offers a “Gracoro Burger” in the winter months.
According to the Huffington Post’s Rachel Tepper, McDonald’s Japan’s “Gracoro Burger” features a “patty of macaroni, shrimp, and white sauce with a breadcrumb crust.” Though it seems like an unusual combination, the fresh seafood known to Japan may just be enough to make this sandwich a tasty treat.
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