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Font "FoundryGridnik Medium" was not found.McDonalds Goes Viral

McDonalds closed their Omotesando location a few weeks back and replaced it with a big sign reading TOP SECRET and a silly foreigner in ill-fitting black suit and bad sunglasses. (He was the bodyguard.)

Today, two mysterious new restaurants opened in Shibuya and Omotesando called Quarter Pounder offering only two options: a Quarter Pounder with Cheese meal set and a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese meal set.

‘Tis McDonalds behind the scheme, of course. Perchance they wanted a more interesting way to bring the iconic American hamburger variety to Japan instead of just throwing it on the menu next to the MacFlurry. My guess is that long lines will form, sucking the energy from H&M and Krispy Kreme. So much excitement for the most ubiquitous fast food chain already dominant in Japan! Viral marketing will probably work this time around, and judging from the Néojaponisme-esque limited color palette of black and red, probably did not even cost so much to do.

W. David MARX
November 4, 2008

43 Responses

  1. Matt Says:

    You realize, of course, that by publicizing this you’re playing right into their hands. (Everyone knows this is a trick to lure over-educated, over-analytical gaijin into the stores.)

  2. W. David MARX Says:

    Playing into their hands would be, “Oh my god! What is this new QUARTER POUNDER thing?? It’s outrageous! Who could possibly be behind it!?”

  3. M-Bone Says:

    I think that people are going to be really let down when they discover that a quarter pounder tastes pretty much like a double cheese burger but with less air between the meat.

  4. Aceface Says:

    “Perchance they wanted a more interesting way to bring the iconic American hamburger variety to Japan instead of just throwing it on the menu next to the MacFlurry”

    Both Quater pounder and Double quater pounder were on the menues of McDonalds in Japan two decades ago.Only back then it was right next to Mcshake…

  5. Joe Says:

    I haven’t had a quarter pounder with cheese (burger royale with cheese) in a while so visiting the McD’s in Omotesando was a treat. Also no standing in lines, since the choices are simple, they line moved quickly.

  6. Aceface Says:

    Anyone who wants great burger in J-fast food chains,try Lotteria,No joke.They are trying to revolutionalize the whole franchaise.

    http://www.lotteria.jp/index.html

  7. Rory P. Wavekrest Says:

    Mr. Face, I tried that little fatty they’ve had those juicy pictures of outside their shops lately… that one? To be honest I wasn’t too impressed, but I guess it was an improvement for Lotteria.

    It seems Zat’s Burger Cafe, (Sasebo burger?) is really pushing their chain these days. For my money, that’s the best burger I’ve had in Tokyo lately. Baker Bounce is great too, of course!

  8. Aceface Says:

    “but I guess it was an improvement for Lotteria.”

    True.I remember how they have been in the last two decades.Anyway it’s better than McDonalds to me.

    The best humberger I had in Tokyo would be “7025 Franklyn Avenue”,which actually locates in 3-15-18 Higashi Gotanda.But be warned.I paid something like 2k for a cheeze burger.

    http://gourmet.livedoor.com/restaurant/3111/#shopFooter

  9. Ratiocinational Says:

    This may be a little off topic, but until the Philly Cheesesteak makes its way to Japan I don’t think I could ever live there.

    That said, are there any other types of western fast food that are popular there? My brother lived in china for a while and explained that KFC is the biggest thing there as far as fast food goes.

  10. alin Says:

    i love it when you guys talk about burgers.

    does anyone know what happened to that little place in jingumae5 , i think, opposite the playground, opposite freshness burger. i’m not qualified to talk about the goods but it made a nice little presence.

  11. W. David MARX Says:

    You guys think this is MEAT.NEOJAPONISME.COM

    I am not such a big fan of Lotteria’s 絶品 burger. Maybe it’s because it has no condiments.

  12. Matt Says:

    The burger is pretty much the quintessential foreign fast food here, with home-delivery pizza probably a close second (I don’t really count the ubiquitous high-end Italian thin-crust pizza as ‘fast food.’)

    I used to pretty much avoid burgers in Japan, but for some reason have really been craving them lately. Zat’s is pretty good (Village Vanguard in Kichijoji is another good one), but the best I’ve had recently was at “Great Burger” in Harajuku.

  13. Burger Beast Says:

    Vanguard is great but burgers smaller than they appear on the menu and not many chips either.

    Believe me, best burger in Tokyo is at
    Propellor Cafe in Chofu Airport,
    especially if you have kids,
    it’s massive, lots of chips, and great views.

  14. M-Bone Says:

    “Mr. Face”

    This Mr. Face thing is classic.

  15. W. David MARX Says:

    I just had a Double Quarter Pounder, as the post portends. I forgot how bad drinking a Coke and eating fries makes you feel.

    Good gimmick though. I tried to trick them by asking for ketchup, but they gave me some ketchup in a little plastic bowl thing.

  16. alin Says:

    >That said, are there any other types of western fast food that are popular there? My brother lived in china for a while and explained that KFC

    KFC is christmas food in this country (that’s just how crazy this country is.; viva obama from obama..

  17. Aceface Says:

    I remember way back in the 90′s when Bill Clinton first visit Japan and one of the foreign correspondents wrote about best burger joint in town,so that Clinton’s(and all the American journalists come along with the Airforce One) could pay a visit.That was now gone “Johnny Rocket’s” in Roppongi,if my fading memory is accurate.Weird thing about JR was all the employees were foreigner.

    “KFC is christmas food in this country (that’s just how crazy this country is.; viva obama from obama..”

    Should also add this is the land where people spend an hour to get a donut from Krispy Kreme,alin.

    Talk about Obama,how about KUA’AINA Burger joint.It’s supposed to be Hawaiian joint but the webpage says they now have 11 shops in Japan and only 2 in Hawaii including the original in Haleiwa.

  18. Rory P. Wavekrest Says:

    Yeah Kua’aina’s pretty good.
    Kinda like there are very few Shakey’s left in the US.

    Maybe we should get a meat.neojaponisme.com or at least eat.neojaponisme.com!

  19. alin Says:

    >Should also add this is the land where people spend an hour to get a donut from Krispy Kreme,

    but only so that the majority can come to the conclusion that mr donut is much better (i perfectly understand that and agree )

  20. Ratiocinational Says:

    Krispy Kreme is delicious! As are Dunkin Donuts of course. I have never had this Mr. Donut as I’ve never been to Japan, but what’s the difference? I read somewhere that they are more cake-like, which is a huge turn off to me. I hate cake-like donuts. I need them to be light and extremely soft. Krispy Kreme is about as good as they get for me.

  21. Daniel Says:

    Doughnut Plant donuts are far better than Krispy Kreme – they have this Pumpkin Cream donut right now that tastes like pumpkin pie. Definitely worth trying.

    And KUA’AINA has a killer pastrami sandwich, too. Not exactly a reuben, but…

  22. Matt Says:

    Kua Aina! How could I forget those guys. The problem with them is that their seating (in the Shibuya location anyway) is more of a fast-food layout that isn’t really conducive to hanging out and talking afterwards. Good for lunches, not so much for dinners.

    Trader Vic’s also has a decent version, if you’re willing to throw down 3,100 yen and wait thirty minutes for your burger. Then again, that’s thirty minutes you can spend swilling flaming volcano drinks.

  23. Matt Says:

    Incidentally, my favorite part of eating a burger in Japan is when the waiter/waitress timidly asks me if I know how to eat a hamburger. This is usually followed by an equally timid suggestion to wrap the burger in paper before eating it, and then curious glances throughout the meal when I don’t.

  24. DB Says:

    Oh man, I have been sleeping on the burger thread!!

    I wept bacon-y tears of joy when Kichijoji got a Zat’s, but I can’t believe nobody has mentioned Freshness Burger! For my ¥580, that is the best burger in Tokyo hands down. Or more like one hand shoving it into my face and the other one dealing with my infant son.

    Kua aina is great but too far away. Vanguard and Zat’s are delicious but I hate all the ‘baggage’ surrounding Japanified burgers and you can’t eat them with one hand. Fast food remains garbage.

  25. DB Says:

    Wait, sorry, it’s the ‘Classic Cheese,’ or クラチyou want at Freshness. Skip the other ones, trust me. Plus, they have beer.

  26. Aceface Says:

    “Incidentally, my favorite part of eating a burger in Japan is when the waiter/waitress timidly asks me if I know how to eat a hamburger.”

    Yeah,they did just that in Villege Vanguard last time we’ve met there,didn’t they.
    But they do that to everyone.I get that lecture every time I go there in the last three years.

    Kinda-odd-topic.

    Talk about beer,VV offers you the Czech beer named Budějovický Budvar,which to me is the best beer in the whole world and naturally I ordered that when I was there in July with Matt.And I\’ve noticed a weird thing.

    When I go to Ulaanbaatar,Mongolia,I always go to the bar that locates right next to Sukhbaatar square where they only serve this beer.But funny thing is in Mongolia,”Budějovický Budvar” is sold by the brand name of “Budwiser Budvar”.I learned that is the original Czech name since the bar is owned by a Mongolian who have connection with Czech republic and directly import from there.

    I’ve got curious with the name change after my dinner with Matt,so I checked the web and learned that Czech brewer is now fighting legal case with Anheuser-Busch throughout the world and can’t use the name “Budwiser”in Japan,thus it’s served as “Budějovický Budvar”or simply “Budvar”.I’ve also learned this beer is sold in the U.S and Canada,as “Czechvar”.

    Not exactly related with general direction of the thread,but what I wanted to say was,make sure you try this Czech beer with three names when you are in VV next time.

  27. cee Says:

    Aceface, it’s ‘budweiser budvar’ in the UK as well (and i think in the rest of europe?). ‘budvar’ for short: it is one of the best lagers. Apparently Budvar and US-Budweiser are rival branches of the same brewing family: one lot emigrated and changed the recipe, one lot didn’t.

    My burger-eating these days is pretty much limited to ‘falling out of a club at 7am and going to freshness’, but: does no-one like Mos any more? Did anyone except me like Mos?

  28. alin Says:

    i used to like mos burger but they’ve been in terminal decline since the start of the millenium.
    their rice-burgers actually ‘worked’ too.

  29. W. David MARX Says:

    I realized at some point that I like the idea of Mos Burger and Freshness Burger more than the product. Although I do like Freshness once in a while. Too bad they got rid of the ham sandwich.

  30. alin Says:

    freshness is idea + decent atmosphere and late or non-stop hours. they deliver where indie cafes fail almost as a rule (who cares about consumables;; sad but true)

  31. Daniel Says:

    now i’m all hungry for a burger. mega-muffin for breakfast tomorrow.

  32. Mulboyne Says:

    A burger thread on another forum also identifed Franklin Avenue but came up with Burger Mania in Shirokane which was started by staff from the Firehouse in Hongo and The Great Burger in Harajuku.

    http://www.burger-mania.com/
    http://www.firehouse.co.jp/
    http://www.the-great-burger.com/

  33. Aceface Says:

    “does anyone know what happened to that little place in jingumae5 ”

    alin:

    You mean 一番東京ハンバーガー?
    I just googled.And I’learned the place was re-born of once died Humberger Inn in Roppongi,which stood right close to the notorious Gas Panic.Somehow it came back to life in Nishi-Azabu and started franchise shops in Sangenjyaya and Jingumae,but now both shops seems dead according to there webpage.

    http://www.thehamburgerinn.com/history.html

  34. alin Says:

    yes, yes that’s it. here it is. the old location

    http://palstage.blog.ocn.ne.jp/palog/2008/04/080405_a297.html

    relieved to see they’re alive , i was worried their cashflow might have been eaten up by freshness or something // any shop that puts tables outside gets my accolades regardless what they sell // for some reason that area (between the burger and the ex-burger) is my favourite in all of jingumae. nice energy.

  35. alin Says:

    looks like the dude i just linked is doing some hardcore meat(dot) bloging

  36. hitstun Says:

    Are you sure that’s McDonald’s, not Burger King? McDonald’s doing Quarter Pounders is just weird.

  37. hitstun Says:

    Nevermind. I are stupid. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a Quarter Pounder, since McDonald’s Double Cheeseburgers are so cheap.

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  42. sloane Says:

    In no way is this brand-free…the Quarter Pounder is one of McDonald’s brands.

    A press release from McDonald’s (at least according to a few other blogs) says that this is just to create buzz marketing for the Quarter Pounder (not yet on menus at McDonald’s in Japan) as it’s introduced.

    Dr. Tantillo’s just published a post on McDonald’s on his marketing blog, in which he praises McDonald’s for being so flexible and adapting to demand but prefaced this with: “The big things about McDonald’s cosmetic image (i.e., colors, designs, clown mascot) have never essentially changed. Neither has the basic serving and restaurant setup.”
    Guess they are even more flexible though… Tantillo’s full post

    Even though this is supposed to just be temporary/buzz marketing, I wonder if cultivating this sort of aesthetic wouldn’t make sense for them–a move to diversify their holdings (they own a significant portion of Chipotle, or did last I knew) and expand/diversify their customer base (Ex. their ‘unsnobby coffee’ campaign. Tantillo did a post on Starbucks/Dunkin’ Donuts mentioning McDonald’s coffee, too.

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