Foodservice researcher Technomic Inc. forecast “the rise of Korean barbecue and Korean food in general” as one of its 11 emerging trends to watch in 2011. Heralding that trend, the company said, is the growing popularity of that food-truck darling the Korean taco, “an only-in-America synthesis of Korean-style fillings and a Mexican format.”
Now, mirroring this only-in-America phenomenon is an only-in-Japan creation from McDonald’s. Beginning tomorrow (Oct. 21), the chain will offer a new “KBQ Burger” in Japan, a synthesis of Korean-style toppings and an all-American foundation.
The KBQ starts with a 100% beef patty (Australian or New Zealand beef) and tops it with Korean bulgogi—a spicy barbecued beef dish—chopped lettuce, cheese and gochujang, a spicy Korean sauce with red-pepper paste. Finally there’s the familiar sesame-seed bun. (Thanks to blog Eataku for translation help.)
McDonald’s recent menu-development strategy has been characterized by self-referential nationalism in many markets. That’s shown in the Kiwi Menu in New Zealand and the McIberica in Spain, along with items such as Canada’s 1967 Burger, named for the year McDonald’s first opened there. So the Pan-Asian style of the KBQ Burger is an interesting effort for McDonald’s/ Japan.
If you’re not traveling to Japan soon but want a Korean-influenced burger, there are several on U.S. burger-joint menus. Chief among them is the Bibimbap Burger at Social Eatz in New York City, voted earlier this year the Greatest Burger in America, no less, on Eater.com. In Los Angeles, Kalbi Burger offers sautéed kimchee as a topping for its namesake burger.