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McDonald's Takes on the Mantou, and It's Delicious

writer: Steven Schwankert source: thebeijinger.com

McDonald's ventures off-menu into localized, limited-edition products has produced some very mixed results. Unlike rival KFC, which boldly goes into Chinese-style items as if it's actually a Chinese restaurant, McDonald's is keen to retain its foreignness.

So each new foray is viewed with skepticism. McDonald's has adoptedyoutiao as a permanent breakfast menu item, and now it's taking on themantou, the traditional, unstuffed steamed bread that is popular in northern morning meals (and some evening ones too). Called the Man Huo De, this burger's name is a play on "very cool" or "very popular," but using the initial character from mantou.

Upon first glance, the Man Huo De is two thin pork patties, a slice of bacon, topped with lettuce and a spicy mayonnaise (it could very well be spicy Special Sauce), all served on a spongy, black and white speckled mantou variant. The mantou's color is a turn-off -- it reminds us of McDonald's unsuccessful wall-paste concoction that was peddled as black sesame ice cream.

But looks would have deceived us had we not ordered one. The Man Huo De is delicious. The bun is spongier than most good mantou, which works in the burger format. The double-pork patty format works well -- it's enough meat to be substantial, but the breaded crust around each patty adds extra crunch when presented together. It goes without saying that bacon makes everything better and two kinds of pork together on one sandwich are enough for two thumbs up.

Best of all, the spicy mayonnaise/Special Sauce is almost properly spicy -- people who prefer blander fare may not love this. It's not a jalapeno burger, but with the pork and the bacon, it really works.

The Man Huo De sells for RMB 15 by itself, RMB 27.50 when sold as a meal with the utterly disgusting pao pao cha, or RMB 25 if you want a meal with the pao pao cha exchanged for soda. If you eat fast food, order one of these.