McDonald's serves up some pretty weird menu items in overseas markets. During a recent jaunt to Hong Kong, we tried out the company's black-and-white heibai liangdao tongchi burgers. Read on for our taste test. (Plus tips on how to make your own!)
When working abroad, we always make it a habit to try at least one fast food product that isn't available on the local menu. Sometimes, these products eventually make their way down under, so it's an effective way to give our readers an advanced taste test in addition to advising takeaway-loving travellers.
We recently attended the Lenovo Tech World conference in China. On the way home, we swung by the McDonald's at Hong Kong International Airport to sample two of Macca's Asian staples: the "Black" and "White" burgers (AKA "heibai liangdao tongchi").
Like the Black & White Cookie made famous on Seinfeld, the heibai liangdao tongchi promotes racial harmony in snack form. The black burger consists of mashed potatoes, black truffle sauce, bacon, lettuce and two beef patties, while the white version comes with mashed potatoes, pepper mushroom sauce, bacon and a fried chicken patty. But their main claim to fame are their black and white buns.
The name of the burger is apparently a play on a Chinese phrase for people with business connections to both government (white) and organised crime (referred to in China as "black society"). This allows them to eat meals comfortably with either group. Apparently, McDonald's Chinese marketing team are pretty edgy.
Naturally, we ordered both versions which came in dinky colour-coded boxes.
As mentioned, the black burger packs in mashed potatoes, a pair of beef patties smothered in black truffle sauce, chopped lettuce and a rasher of bacon sandwiched between two buns blackened with squid ink. The white burger substitutes the truffle sauce for mushroom and comes with a fried "white" chicken patty.
Here's what the finished result looks like. We particularly like how the black bun is topped with white sesame seeds while the white bun goes for black; a simple yet clever touch.
As you can see above and below, the burgers weren't put together with much care or attention. It would seem Macca's sloppy burger assembly is a worldwide problem. (They could have tucked the bacon into the bun at least. Tch, eh?)
But we're not here to judge appearance today. Instead, it's all about how they taste.
Personally, I wasn't a particularly big fan of either. The buns had an odd, chewy texture that had the effect of making the unconventional bread colour rather off-putting. Also, the "black" truffle sauce on the dark burger appeared to just be a slightly thicker version of Big Mac sauce:
Of the two, I think the White/Chicken version was probably slightly better. It had a pleasantly sweet aftertaste that remained on the right side of subtle. The Black/Beef version, meanwhile, just tasted like a Big Mac with bacon and mash chucked in.
The next time I'm in Asia I'll probably stick to my usual order of two cheeseburgers sans sauce. Either that, or give Burger King's Kuro Black burger a try.
Incidentally, if you're not planning a trip to Asia anytime soon but are still keen to try the black version yourself, this step-by-step guide explains how it's done. [Warning: Involves manhandling slimy cephalopods.]