A favorite returns… with surprising new ingredients.
McDonald’s has a rotating list of menu items that reappear for a limited time each year in Japan, and the Chicken Tatsuta is one of them.
This year, the famous burger returned to the chain from April 20 and brought with it a new partner, the Shin Tatsuta, with “shin” meaning “new”. Something else that’s “shin” right now is Ultramanas the hugely popular kaiju franchise returns to Japanese cinemas from May, with a new feature film titled ShinUltramanwritten and produced by Hideaki Anno.
To celebrate the highly anticipated upcoming movie, McDonald’s is teaming up with the franchise to pay homage to the Ultraman past and present with the two Tatsuta burgers. The regular Chicken Tatsuta comes with the tagline “帰ってきたチキンタツタ” (“Kaette kita Chicken Tatsuta”), which translates to “Return of Tatsuta Chickenand is a direct reference to “帰ってきたウルトラマン” (“Kaette kita Ultraman”), the 70s series known as “Return of Ultraman” abroad.
▼ Both burgers use the same font on their packaging as seen in the Ultraman movies and TV shows.
Another nice nod to the series is evident in the packaging, where the old version of Ultraman is used for the regular burger (pictured left in the photo above), and the new Ultraman from the movie at coming is seen on the Shin Tatsuta (pictured on the right). What differentiates the old from the new is the “color timer” on the chest – the old has it, while the new doesn’t.
▼ The Chicken Tatsuta (left) sells for 390 yen (US$3.04), while the Shin Tatsuta is a bit more expensive, at 420 yen.
Our Japanese-speaking reporter, Mr. Sato, loves kaiju movies almost as much as he loves his burgers, so he got to work inspecting this Tatsuta duo.
The chicken in the new one on the right looked much thicker than the normal version, and when he lifted each other’s bun, he discovered that size wasn’t the only difference between them.
▼ Tatsuta Chicken had simpler ingredients – shredded cabbage, ginger soy sauce, chicken, and a creamy sauce.
The Shin Tatsuta was much more colorful, with a dollop of tartar sauce layered over the chicken. Below, the shredded cabbage was covered in nanban sauce, which is made from rice vinegar, soy sauce, mirin and sugar. This combination of fried chicken, tartar sauce and nanban sauce is designed to replicate the taste of nanban chickenwhich is a specialty of Miyazaki Prefecture.
▼ Hence the full name of the burger: Tartare Nanban Chicken Shin Tatsuta Miyazaki Meibutsu (“New Tatsuta Miyazaki Specialty Nanban Chicken Tartare”)
Mr. Sato started with the old-fashioned burger, which always tasted like crispy chicken, soft buns and a hint of ginger soy sauce. Absolutely fantastic, and it’s no wonder it makes a triumphant return to the menu year after year.
When he bit into the New Chicken Tatsuta, the soft buns once again gave a satisfying mouthfeel. However, this time, Mr. Sato’s taste buds were greeted with the deliciously tart flavor of the nanban sauce. This elevated the flavor profile into a whole different realm, and Mr. Sato wasn’t sure he liked it.
He had never tasted a Tatsuta like this before, and although Mr. Sato likes chicken nanban, the sourness of the vinegar was surprisingly strong here. While it might be perfect for some palates, for Mr. Sato it just wasn’t what he wanted on his Chicken Tatsuta. Call it old school, but the old version was just more his style.
Whether you like your Chicken Tatsutas plain or with fancy new ingredients, Japanese customers will no doubt be delighted to see the familiar burger back on the menu for a limited time. However, it’s only available until the end of May, so you’ll want to try them soon, otherwise you’ll have to settle for a nanban chicken lookalike burger at Doo Wop in Tokyo.
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[ Read in Japanese ]