A few months ago on previous episode of The Snackdown, while reviewing McDonald’s McSpicy Deluxe (which has now since been taken off the menu because we are unworthy of Nice Things like McGriddles), I the temerity of referring the world’s de facto fast food chain as “Maccas”.
Now some people took umbrage at this, and since clearly this is as unpatriotic and un-Singaporean as not defending chendol’s honour when those dastardly villains from across the Causeway decide to claim it as their own, I was rightfully pilloried on social media.
So, to that end, I shall refrain from using the term “Maccas” today, and instead refer to it by its socially and locally acceptable moniker of “Mac” or “Macs”, because the golden arches is once again in the spotlight, under the harsh (slightly cross-eyed) glare of the Snacktivist’s attention.
The time has come for yet another special bringback from McDonald’s. Specifically, the new Ebi Burger, something not seen since the dark days of 2013, a time where chaos reigned supreme (Miley Cyrus’ twerking at the VMAs), rivers ran red with blood (the godawful song she twerked to by Robin Thicke) and purple lightning split the sky asunder (“twerk” became a word).
In addition to the new old burger, there’s the prodigal return of seaweed shaker fries, a matcha-infused McFlurry and a White Chocolate Strawberry Cream Pie. How Maccas, I mean Macs, can keep a straight face while saying “cream pie” I’ll never know.
It’s not like only the most puerile person with a mental age of a 10-year-old would laugh at something like that, right?
When I was a younger Snacktivist still in his larval state, my father was fond of dropping pearls of wisdom at random intervals.
Gems that include “children should be seen and not heard” and my personal favourite, “children, like animals, understand only one language and that’s pain”.
While that set me up well for adulthood and a lifetime of therapy, he perhaps made a crucial omission. He never said anything like “seafood and especially crustaceans don’t belong in fast food joints”.
There’s a good reason why seafood is a rare sight in the junk food world. They have a shorter shelf than your average K-pop star, and to prolong that, acts that border on necromancy have to be performed.
In the case of the K-pop star, judicious use of cosmetic surgery and the sex scandal or two. In the case of fast food seafood, this involves a dark pact to extend its life, or in food science terms, freezing.
Like necromancy, freezing extends the life of dead things, but also like necromancy, when said dead thing comes back, it’s never quite the same.
Yeah sure, while the Ebi Burger’s frozen shrimp entombed in a breaded patty won’t come back and haunt your every waking hour until you are dead in a Pet Sematary sort of way, it will make you wonder why you bothered to eat it in the first place.
The breading is excellent, of course, as you’d expect from the people that have absolutely mastered the arcane art of making the perfect french fry. Fried to an almost caricaturishly perfect shade of golden brown, it gleams like amber.
What lurks within the breading, however, has about as much life as I do before I’ve had a cup of coffee in the morning. Still technically alive, but also not really. There definitely is ebi in the Ebi Burger, but only because my eyes tell me that’s so.
There isn’t really any actual taste of the shrimp, despite them coming in whole, and it might as well be the crab-flavoured monstrosity that is crab sticks as far as I’m concerned. It says quite a bit when more of the flavour comes from the breading than the shrimp contained within. Even more so when you consider prawns in general could hardly be accused of being wanting in the flavour department.
The other bit of flavour is the sauce. Roasted sesame mayo, to be specific, which manifests its dread form as a sort of brownish-grey goop. If I’m being honest, I couldn’t taste the roasted sesame or the mayo anywhere in there.
It just tastes like a sort of creamy, umami glop that I almost was kani miso for a moment. If you don’t know what that or tomalley is, I strongly advise you not to look it up. But if you must, here you go. Dont’ say I didn’t warn you.
But while it would add a touch of exoticism to a fast food burger, I would imagine kani miso isn’t the sort of thing that keeps well. Eating that stuff can be dicey at the best of times, and one wrong move in the preparation/storage process could see Macs going down in history as one of the biggest poisoners since Lucretia Borgia.
Anyway, the Ebi Burger earns a solid meh, bordering on the bad. If you really must and are in dire need of a double helping of disappointment, you can have your Ebi Burger in double-patty form.
But enough about that. Are you ready for what’s coming next?
Can you handle the kawaii (McDonald’s words, not mine) that is the…
White Chocolate Strawberry Cream Pie
It’s got white chocolate and strawberries!
In a cream pie!
No pies were creamed in the making of this, and of that I am certain.
I’m not entirely sure why McDonald’s decided to name it as such, because I can’t for the life of me find any cream in there, unless they mean it figuratively, like with the ‘Nasi Lemak’ Burger.
What’s between the crust, which is a lot more like filo and far less greasy than the one used in the standard Apple Pie is a sort of semi-solid white chocolate that carries a slight perfume of chemical strawberries.
It’s hard to tell if the chocolate solidified in between the time since its preparation and eventual consumption, but I’m fairly sure if you don’t eat it immediately and at mouth-searing temperatures, it’s more than likely your mouth is going to feel like it’s been cream-pied.
If eating an entire bar of white chocolate sounds cloying, that’s because it is. And it’s not like the chocolate is all that hot either. It just sort of coats your palate with a sort of plastic film (a la non-Japanese Pocky) and the entire experience isn’t entirely pleasant. And neither are the strawberries, which has a chemical tang on par with the oddity that was the Peach Pie.
Well, at least the slight abrasiveness of the filo scrapes your palate between mouthfuls. Unless you like your mouth to be filled with cream pie. In which case you could simply dispense with the crust altogether and squeeze out the filling like toothpaste, which is incidentally what it has the consistency of.
At any rate, eating an entire McDonald’s cream pie (like most cream pies in general) left me feeling slightly sick, of the sort you get when you consume too much sugar in one sitting.
I’d give this cream pie, and the Ebi Burger a miss if I were you. Not that both would warrant a kill-it-with-fire, but both are just so underwhelming that at the end of everything, it kinda fills you with a sense of existential ennui.
Eating bad food is one thing, but eating underwhelming food just makes you feel as grey and as colourless as the food you just consumed.
Yeah, I’d say that McDonald’s kawaii turn hasn’t been too much of a success. Oh well, it’s had an outstanding run of late, but hey, the good run has got to end some time, in this case with a little puff of roasted sesame mayo, some flavourless shrimp and a plasticky white chocolate cream pie.
Which calls to mind one of my favourite quotes from TS Eliot: “This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.”
10-word review: Fast food crustaceans and cream pies do not mix well.
Best paired with: Memories of what greatness McDonald's can achieve sometimes, as with McGriddles and the 'Nasi Lemak' Burger.