Archives for posts with tag: Burger King

In honor of Chinese New Year, we’re taking a break from our regularly scheduled posts to review another fast food item from China! I’ve spent far too much time in my life in Shanghai Pudong Airport, but one advantage to flying from that location is that it contains one of the few Burger Kings I’ve seen in China. Since I’m usually flying back to the United States from Pudong, it’s a tradition of mine to fill up at the local BK before hopping on a 10-15 hour flight, and this past week was no different.

Looking over the menu, there were two items which are not currently available at U.S. locations: a Spicy Whopper and an Italian Stacker. Since I guessed the Spicy Whopper was just a burger with some hot sauce, I though the Italian Stacker would make for a better post, so that was my choice.

The Italian Stacker is offered with up to four patties on the burger. I opted for the single version, which only had one burger patty. The sandwich was 23 RMB alone or 40 RMB for a meal, which came with a medium fries and medium soda. The meal price increased 8 RMB for each additional beef patty, which seemed reasonable enough.

Upon ordering the sandwich, I had literally no idea what to expect. I couldn’t access wifi in the airport, so I couldn’t do any research on the sandwich beforehand. In fact, I still don’t actually have an official description of the sandwich. A cursory Google search returned no results, and not even Wikipedia includes a mention of the Italian Stacker in its article on the BK Stacker (someone should edit that- is this blog credible enough to serve as a source?).

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Anyway, the picture on the menu looked like there was some sauce and bacon and cheese. I noticed that this location offered chili fries (which were called spicy meat sauce fries) and I hoped that this chili was not going to serve as Italian tomato sauce. I … was wrong.

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Upon opening the wrapper, the burger looked a little small, but I did order the single, which is the equivalent of a regular cheeseburger. It had the regular sesame bun and the patty looked like a regular American burger. It smelled like bacon, which gave me some hope for a good experience. I lifted the top bun, and the insides looked kinda gross. The sauce definitely looked like the chili, and the bacon was not typical American style crispy bacon: it was wide cut and soggy.

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I picked up the burger and it was a tad messy and soggy from the sauce. My first bite had an overwhelming bacon taste. I wish it had been crispy though. On the second bite, I realized the sauce was definitely chili, but it had a slightly off taste. It was a thin tomato sauce with chunks of ground beef. It could have used some more seasoning, especially salt, and maybe some spice. I thought I taste a hint of oregano, but that may have been wish casting. Instead, the main seasoning seemed to be diced onions. Perhaps it’s my personal taste in not liking onions, but the sauce seemed to get more oniony as I continued eating.

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Other than the bacon, cheese and chili, nothing else was on the burger. Luckily the bacon carried most of the taste when it was in a bite, because I was not a big fan of that chili. The burger itself had that same flame-grilled (TM!) taste you’re used to, but it was smaller than the bun. There was a good amount of bacon on the burger, and it did start to overwhelm the patty at times. I think if I’d gotten at least a double, the beef would have stood up better

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The best bites of the burger were where the sauce ended up melting the cheese, so they combined into a gooey, cheesy sauce. It helped to hide the strong onion flavor, and it paired really well with the burger and bacon. Towards the end, I tried to create as many of those bites as possible, but there was only a single slice of cheese to work with.

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As a novelty item, this was fine. I probably shouldn’t; have expected a semi-authentic tomato sauce, and I’m guessing I, and other foreigners, would be more receptive to the taste if it was marketed as a chili cheese burger, and not something with Italian flavor. I’d also prefer crispy bacon, but that’s probably asking too much. I would be interested in an actual Italian burger (free idea Burger King!), having tomato sauce paired with provolone. But until that’s a reality, I’ll probably stick to a safer choice next time I’m in China.

I love fried potatoes in any form. Waffled and hashed, shoe stringed and tatered, you name it, I’m eating it. Tater tots, in particular, are really underutilized by restaurants. When done right, their increased surface area is optimized for crunchiness, and the insides can have more of a potato taste than regular fries. Of course, they can be done horribly wrong (re: anything frozen), but tots are amazing when done right. When I saw that Burger King was bringing them back (with cheese!), I was all in for an eating experience.

Unfortunately, Burger King’s ad campaign for this product featured the terrible movie, Napoleon Dynamite. I understand the connection since they were (grossly) prominent in the movie, but I was hoping anyone who actually liked that movie ten years ago had long ago realized it was boring and not funny and wouldn’t feel shame, not nostalgia for that period in their lives. Burger King is betting I’m wrong.

Burger King’s Cheesy Tots will not receive a description because 1) they’re cheesy tater tots, there’s no ad speak that could really dress these up and 2) there is no description currently on Burger King’s site because they may have already been discontinued. We’ll proceed as if they haven’t, because maybe they’ll come back some day. They cost $1.89 before tax as a side order, and that portion gives you seven tots. The tater tots arrive in a box, which was unexpected, and classier than the greasy paper bag that I expected to receive.

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I opened the box, and was confused. Each tot looked like a fried ball/fritter or a golden brown hockey puck, not like an actual tater tot. My first bite was not good. They somehow tasted stale, which should have been impossible since I ate them the week they were released, but it seemed as if they had been sitting in a box for the past year.

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That stale taste formed a formidable duo with the lack of crunch. An uncrunchy tater tot. The one thing you need to do right! For something that looked battered and fried, the texture was as if someone had baked these at a low temperature to get them hot. It reminded me of eating crappy leftovers.

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The cheese in the middle of the tots was a Velveeta-like product. I’m not a huge fan of that taste, so that wasn’t a compliment. Because the tot itself was limp and flavorless, the cheese overwhelmed the potato and it felt like a fried cheese ball. Once again, not a compliment.

If you’ve made it pretty far, it’s evident this was not enjoyable. Without looking back through the archives, the cheesy tots are one of, if not the worst products I’ve eaten for this blog. They somehow managed to be stale, overly cheesy, grease bombs. I did not eat all seven and barely finished half the order. It appears these are no longer available, and I implore Burger King not to return these to the menu unless there’s a new recipe.

I interrupt the scheduled Taco Bell post because of the huge anticipation for Burger King’s newest creation: Cheetos Chicken Fries. These seemed to take inspiration from the Doritos Locos Tacos: a junk food mashup that would add an extra layer of flavor to an already existing product. They’ve currently featured in an ad campaign and mentions of this creation are all over social media, and not just because people now send me fast food news (thanks!). Once I learned these were soon to be sold, they immediately jumped the line and had to be the next item I ate. The eating experience also prompted me to jump this post to the top of the pile because… well, you’ll see below.

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I’m a huge fan of fried chicken in pretty much any form. My default order at most fast food locations is nuggets/tenders/fried chicken sandwich. That being said, I’ve never been a huge fan of Burger King’s Chicken Fries. Birthed from a type of food that is generally processed and doesn’t feel natural, Chicken Fries stand out even more. They don’t particularly taste like chicken, they aren’t well seasoned, and eating them gets kinda boring. Chicken Fries exist to serve as a vehicle for whatever dipping sauce you want to consume and to provide a satisfying crunch. My hope was that the Cheetos dust would actually make the Chicken Fries good. More care should be put into making the chicken taste like chicken, and cheese dust is good! Taco Bell proved that, right?

Burger King says that “Cheetos Chicken Fries are made with white meat chicken like original Chicken Fries, and are covered in a crispy Cheetos-flavored breading.” I opted for a medium sized meal, which was $5.39 and came with nine Cheetos Chicken Fries. You can order the fries alone for $2.99. I was a little disappointed that nine is the minimum amount. I’d prefer an option for six, but maybe since this is a limited time item, BK is going for volume. I also chose to get BBQ sauce, just to see how they would pair with a sauce.

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I got to my table, sat down, opened my special Cheetos Chicken Fries box and my initial reaction was… CONFUSION! Based on the commercials and having eaten Cheetos more than once in my life, I expected these to be a bright orange. I also expected Cheetos dust like the Doritos Locos Taco. These were dark brown. There was no dust. I actually thought they had given me the wrong order. I double checked my receipt, then Googled Cheetos Chicken Fries to see a photo to make sure I actually received the correct food.

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I bit into my first Cheetos Chicken Fry and my initial reaction was … CONFUSION! It did not taste like Cheetos. I really thought there was a chance I had the wrong order. Still. I decided to keep eating, and I started to at least get a salty-ish taste, which I’m guessing was the special breading. Still didn’t taste like Cheetos, cheese, or really anything other than salt. I bit into the breading alone. Salt. It did have a slight orange hue though, so I guess that proves that Cheetos at some point were used in the product. They also kinda smelled like Cheetos (Yes, I sat in a food court smelling Chicken Fries. Don’t judge me.).

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The Cheetos Chicken Fries also suffered from the same issues as original Chicken Fries: they were incredibly dry and at no point did I feel like I was eating chicken. When I used the BBQ sauce, these were okay, but that’s only because the BBQ sauce was okay, it was all I tasted.

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I ate all the fries, chicken and potato, and was still a little hungry afterwards. Eating was a monotonous experience. All the bites taste the same and all the bites are mediocre at best. The problem with both concept and execution: Original Chicken Fries are terrible! We’re starting with a flawed concept, then Burger King and Cheetos half assed this concoction. No Cheetos dust. No real Cheetos taste. No real cheese taste. No fake cheese taste. If executives at Cheetos actually tasted and signed off on the product I ate, they should be embarrassed by this blatant cash grab. How can this food item be so dispiriting when they had a positive example in front of them from Taco Bell, which has been on the market for years! There’s no need to rush this out to capitalize on their buzz! Make a good product, or at least try to make a good product.

I sat in a food court with Taco Bell, Panda Express, D’Angelo’s, and Sarku Japan and ate these things. I’m still angry they ruined what could have been a perfectly good lunch. These were terrible and are a waste of menu space as long as they last.

When I was putting together my thoughts back before I started this blog, I was drawn to choosing new items because fast food chains, as well as stadiums, seemed to revel in outdoing themselves in creating imaginative items that sound repulsive, but when given a second thought, intriguing in the sense that they may have stumbled across a new combination of items from their kitchen that could be refashioned into a new, and tastier treat. I’ve been writing off and on (mostly off) for the past 2.5 years, but I believe Burger King has recently released a food item that is the platonic ideal of this blog. Without further ado, I give you the first new food I’ve eaten since the restart a few weeks ago: Burger King’s Whopperito.

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Burger King frequently plays around with the Whopper, its signature sandwich, but that usually involves some BBQ sauce, bacon, special cheese, or hot sauce. This is the first time they’ve changed the actual concept of the burger, turning into a “burrito”. Per the official description, the Whopperito is “savory flame-grilled 100% beef and seasoned with a special blend of spices […] with a creamy Queso, pickles, diced onions, juicy tomatoes, and crisp lettuce all wrapped in a warm flour tortilla.” At the location I visited, the sandwich cost $3.29 on its own and $5.49 as a meal with a small soda and fries. I opted for the meal, which may have been a mistake because I’d just visited Taco Bell for some research on future blog posts. Don’t ever think I’m not dedicated to this… or have a slight disregard for my health.

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Anyway, the sandwich took a long time to put together considering no one was in front of me in line. It’s still a new item and it’s completely out of line with all other Burger King offerings, so slack can be cut, but we’re talking five or so minutes for a fast food sandwich. I originally sat down in a booth to eat this delicacy… then immediately had to move to a table with a harder chair. The sinking feeling did not sit well with the Taco Bell and the thought of eating this monstrosity. I’m saying Burger King needs firmer booths.

To get to the actual food (finally!), the Whopperito comes wrapped in sandwich paper. With the way it was wrapped, you couldn’t quite unfold it and keep it wrapped as a regular burrito, so I took it completely out, which of course imperils the integrity of the bottom of any good burrito. Upon first glance, the Whopperito looked thin for a burrito, but it was, uh, quite lengthy. The tortilla also was slightly frayed at the edges and didn’t look fresh. I tore off the top because the first bite was only going to be that old tortilla, which would be a terrible first impression.

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My first bite was beef and tomatoes. Not gonna lie, it was weird. It wasn’t bad, but my head was having a hard time wrapping itself around the idea of this being a burrito. After that bite, there was some spice that crept up on me. I realized that it came from the raw onion, which is a taste I usually hate, except for Mexican food. And it pains me to say it, but it really worked here. I liked the taste of raw onion in a Burger King burrito. Words I never thought I’d say.

The burrito was really beefy, because there was no rice or beans filler. Think of it like a legit carne asada burrito, San Diego style. Except instead of carne asada, it’s a Burger King burger… with Whopper toppings. So just like the concept of a carne asada burrito. Of course that simplicity also meant that the Whopperito lives and dies with the burger meat. The beef was a typical Burger King burger, just chopped up. The pieces were inconsistently spiced, but when the special blend of spices showed up, the sandwich was really good.

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Around halfway through, as I was pondering the sandwich as well as my own existence, I came to the realization that if I thought of the Whopperito as a cheeseburger wrap, and not a burrito, the concept makes sense and is easier to accept. If you go into the experience thinking you’re eating a burrito, you’ll likely be disoriented and disappointed.

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In that vein, the pickles really shone though. While they’d be unwelcome on a burrito, they provided a good burst of flavor and contrast with the other ingredients. Since there’s no pico de gallo or hot sauce, the pickles were the only acid represented and my favorite bites of the sandwich always had a pickle. The tomatoes were good for the juiciness, but were cut way too big. I think instead of chunks, they should have diced. This would have been helpful on two fronts: 1) I think they’d be distributed better inside the tortilla and 2) more of the juice would be released, so the sandwich would be moister. The lettuce was filler. I don’t usually get lettuce in my burritos and I wasn’t a fan, but it makes sense with the sandwich as presented.

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Now onto more of the actual problems and not my quibbles with the Whopperito. The creamy Queso was there, but it was flavorless. Cheese would have been a big addition. I think a melted piece of cheese would have served this better than the flavorless sauce, or a cheesier queso. It also had the consistency of a sauce, and wasn’t as thick as a decent queso. In addition, the sandwich, particularly the meat, was extremely oily. I don’t think regular burgers at Burger King are like that and I don’t know where it came from here. The leaking also produced a giant oil slick on my tray as I was eating. Lastly, the tortilla added nothing. The best that could be said is that it held the ingredients and didn’t fall apart, though it could not contain the meat oil.

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So where do we end? Burger King took a giant swing on this one and came up with a surprisingly bland sandwich. The queso didn’t work, which is probably the real failing. Without that cheesy flavor, the Whopperito lived and died on the meat and pickles. In what was already an unorthodox sandwich, maybe adding bacon would work. I understand calling this a burrito produces intrigue and marketing #buzz, but embracing this as a wrap could allow Burger King to be more creative. Or, if they want to follow the burrito route, get some guacamole in there. This isn’t a complete loss, but it was disappointing. The Whopperito just needs one more flavorful ingredient to shine through and make this a win.

Apologies again for the delay between posts, but there will be THREE (3) coming up this week to make up for things. First up, Burger King’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich… AGAIN.

The idea to come back to certain items was suggested to me when I first started the blog, and it was an idea that I filed away. I didn’t expect to come back to a product so quickly because I have so many current products on my list to review. However, sometimes circumstances get in the way, and you find yourself at a Burger King drive-thru at 9:30PM, having not eaten since 10AM and mistakenly ordering a Spicy Chicken Sandwich instead of an Original Chicken Sandwich! Here we are!

The focus of my original review was that the sandwich was good, it just wasn’t spicy, which is a problem for a Spicy Chicken Sandwich. However, I can now safely report that the sandwich is spicy!!! I have no reasons why the sandwich suddenly had some bite, other than maybe they needed a few weeks to work the kinks out of their product (which I assume had been taste tested for several months before roll out, but whatever).

Once again, the breading had a reddish tinge to it (sorry, no photos for this post), and everything else was the exact same as the Original Chicken Sandwich: lettuce, mayo, and oblong bun. The patty was still crispy and juicy on the inside (which is a compliment to that location for having fresh food that late). The spice wasn’t overwhelming. I didn’t find myself gasping or needing gulps of water to calm down my taste buds. However, it was noticeable, and it definitely adds something to a sandwich that can be very plain.

I know this is a short post, but after I ate the sandwich, I did feel obligated to update my thoughts since the sandwich was different, and now that we have some spice, I actually would recommend it.

Before we begin, some quick housekeeping on the blog. I apologize for not posting last week. I’d like to give some valid reason for that, but I don’t. Laziness and the Super Bowl. That’s it. Sorry. However, my eating did not abate! Therefore, expect two posts, in addition to this one over the next week.

'S' is for sandwich, because it definitely doesn't mean spicy.

‘S’ is for sandwich, because it definitely doesn’t mean spicy.

For this post, we’re thankfully moving on from the unholy combination burgers of the last few weeks. Burger King just released a Spicy Chicken Sandwich. From the commercials it appears to be like their Original Chicken Sandwich, except spicy. As a long time fan of the Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich and the style of Burger King’s Original Chicken Sandwich, this one had me really excited. Our base here is already good, so we could only improve, right?

In all her glory

In all her glory

For a change of pace, I decided to dine in the restaurant this week. I wasn’t sure if taking the food home had been causing problems in previous weeks, and I didn’t want to take a chance. Of course, it took so long for my food to be prepared that they actually apologized to me. That never happens. Anyway, another medium meal this week, costing $8.07. I’d have liked it to be cheaper, since this is not a large sandwich, but I was full at the end of the meal, so I can’t complain too much.

Sandwich guts

Sandwich guts

The sandwich came in the standard paper of the Original Chicken Sandwich with a black ‘S’ written on the paper. When opened it looked…. exactly like the Original Chicken Sandwich, but the chicken was a reddish color. The patty was a bit too small for the oblong bun, but not overly so.  Some shifting of the patty allowed for no chickenless bites.

That ratio of lettuce to chicken can't be right...

That ratio of lettuce to chicken can’t be right…

After a lettuce dump

After a lettuce dump

Burger King describes the Spicy Chicken Sandwich as “made with white-meat chicken and a light breading mixed with cayenne and black pepper. Topped with a simple combination of fresh lettuce and creamy mayonnaise and served on a toasted sesame seed bun.” My first bite was good! It tasted exactly like the Original Chicken Sandwich. And I mean exactly. No spice. Chicken was still juicy and crunchy, but I really couldn’t tell the difference between this sandwich and the Original Chicken Sandwich.  For my final bite, I made sure it was just chicken, and still no spice! Perplexing. In addition, there was waaaay too much lettuce on the sandwich. Maybe there was extra to serve as a cooling agent for the spiciness of the chicken, or maybe the lettuce was just carelessly strewn by someone who does not take pride in their sandwich work. However it got on there, it shouldn’t have. As you can see from the picture above, there was twice as much lettuce as chicken. I had to drop a bunch of it just so I could taste the other components of the sandwich.

It looks like it should be spicy

It looks like it should be spicy

So this a mixed reaction. As I mentioned, I like the Original Chicken Sandwich, and if you like it too, you will like the Spicy Chicken. However, if you order this expecting some actual heat, either don’t bother, or bring along some hot sauce (and I do like the imagery of people ordering this with bottles of Sriracha or Crystal’s or Frank’s in their hands). So we took a positive step this week. Hopefully the next post contains an unqualified approval.

The aftermath

The aftermath