Forget fine dining, the next time you visit Japan, visit McDonald’s.
You’re shaking your head, you woke AF bastard, thinking it is below you.
Most of you associate their jingle with Justin Timberlake’s ‘I’m lovin’ it’, but for everyone born in 80s, we never forget ‘good time great taste’.
When they based the tagline on their product benefit rather than ‘feelings’.
Currently, in Hokkaido, there are still Ronald Mcdonalds sitting on benches covered in snow. That's how old school it is.
Observe the kitchen - clean and efficient.
The floor, san rubbish, grease or tears.
Soft serve machines, humming.
The burger bun, fluffy. Sesame seeds, intact.
Dining area - once again - clean seats, shiny furniture, occupied by people that are not addicted to meth.
My daughter with her six-year-old tongue, says the food tasted ‘juicier’.
She had a choice between Thomas the Tank Engine or some fluffy cute hamster character as her Happy Meal Toy.
Non-parents won’t know this, but since 2022 Australian Maccas have been offering … apologies as their Happy Meal toys.
This is all we’ve got. Soweeee~
Visit number 2. We parked at McDonald’s, and bought a small meal to qualify for free parking in the city.
“The childhood memories are coming back,” the wife said as she dug through the fresh fries, smoke coming out of the bag.
For everyone born in the 80s, to see a beautifully run McDonald’s is like seeing a time capsule of happiness.
We despise McDonald’s not because it’s bad now; but because of how good it used to be.
Forget Michelin stars, the Japanese McDonald’s provides a better experience than most restaurants around the world.
You know what to expect, but they still beat your expectation.
A well-calibrated Rolex watch.
I was pinged by a NYT opinion piece five minutes ago, titled ‘The Impossible Art of Keeping A Restaurant Afloat.’
I don’t know man, have you tried being McDonald’s?
They seem pretty afloat.
Anyway, with the country opening no doubt you’ll be seeing many online tour guides telling you what to do, where to go, how long to queue.
I say, take a break.
Experience the only good McDonald’s left in the world.
Take in how a good system and work ethics, can elevate even fast food.
Try the teriyaki burger, the teriyaki chicken burger, the ebi(prawn) fry burger. Items you can’t get outside of Japan.
But, to be honest, I’m always there for the chicken nuggets.
The biggest culture shock here is that chicken nuggets aren’t considered a main meal. The reason the wife waited so long in the car park was that I tried ordering a McNugget meal, and the cashier told me bad command of file name.
So I had to pivot - a meal AND nuggets.
A 5-piece nuggets cost 240 yen.
$3 AUD; $1.9 USD
Cheaper than 30-minute parking.
We’re looking at a 100% increase in value here, how?
We have the Japanese konbini (convenience stores) to thank.
In 1986, Lawson introduced Karaage-kun (Mister fried chicken), their answer to McDonald’s nuggets.
Their point of difference? Made from local chicken.
Bam, and it stayed on the menu for the next 37 years.
And only after 37 years they had their first ever price increase - 5 pieces of Karaage-kun from 200 yen to 220 yen, excluding tax.
7-Eleven, Family Mart, all have their own versions of crumbed chicken slime balls
McDonald’s can’t charge Australian prices when customers can just walk to the next block and get the same, if not better product for 200 yen. So they target the uni students, the urban dwellers: after 5pm, we’ll even give out cheap fries to sweeten the deal. They can fight our chicken, but not our fries and our brand and dine-in experience.
So put them in the UFC ring, the MMF ring.
The winner is always the customer.
My advice, get Karaage-kun (always spicy red flavour) during the day; and at night the 10-piece nugget with large fries.
Hydrate with green tea.
Food is art, because once it’s sent out on a plate, you can’t control what people think about it.
You can’t tell people that they’re ‘lovin’ it’.
The market decides.
Just like how you can’t force people to think your food is great just because it’s expensive, or philosophical, or come with stars. Once you’re talking about ‘business models’ and ‘hiring policies’, then reality closes in - in the end, it’s all about the money.
You can’t sugarcoat abandoning your customers, man.
Imagine your landlord giving you 30 days’ notice to vacate, with a long spill of ‘we’ve had a great run, and you know I stand for all things good in the world, but the industry’s business model is broken and we realise for the future we have to -
‘Dude, I need to start looking for a new place,’ is what the customer is thinking.
The Beatles sang it better, in 1965.
There are places I'll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
Apparently in the USA nuggets are even cheaper. And why am I surprised, you even have a 50-piece pack.
Once again, fine dining restaurant owners, have you tried being a convenience store? They seem pretty afloat.
I enjoyed the subtle NYT namedrop. Well done, Harvard!
You're making want to go to Japan just so I can check out McDonalds there ha ha ha.