Top 10 Ways McDonalds in Japan is different from McDonalds in the US

It is common knowledge that we have McDonalds in Japan to go along with the native Japanese fast food. What most people don't know is just what they actually serve in the Japanese McDonalds and in what ways it differs from the original US version. First off, the Japanese don't say McDonalds, they say Ma-ku-do around the Kansai area or Ma-ku-do-nal-do in the rest of Japan. Of course, the name change is just the beginning…

  1. Ebi Burger a.k.a a shrimp burger: The taste is reminiscent of a New Orleans style shrimp Po'Boy sandwich. Ebi Burgers contains no individual shrimp. The burger patty is formed from ground shrimp meat. This shrimp patty is then coated in panko (Japanese bread crumbs) and deep fried. Makes for top notch eats if you ask me.

  2. Teriyaki Burgers: This one was to be expected. It's your basic McDonalds hamburger with a healthy dose of teriyaki sauce slathered onto the meat.

  3. McPork Sandwich: Thankfully, no one is afraid of pork in Japan. This sandwich is made from a ground pork meat patty. In lieu of mustard and ketchup, the McPork is served with a savory brown sauce and what appears to be lightly sauteed onions. The logo for the McPork features an outline of a cartoon pig wrapped around the “McPork” text.

  4. The Mega Mac: a large double patty burger similar to the Big Mac. You will also find the Mega Tamago which is just a Mega Mac served with a fried egg in the stack (as you may have learned at your local sushi restaurant, tamago means “egg” in Japanese). Both versions of the sandwich come with a special sauce that differs from the Big Mac sauce. The Mega Mac is not always available. They rotate it in and out along with other burgers (such as the Canyon Burger or the California Burger) on a promotional bases. Overall however, the other burgers are similar and often have the egg layer, but frequently a different sauce. Big Macs are available in Japan as well and appear to be identical to the US version.

  5. As with KFC in Japan, the drink sizes are much smaller than the drinks in the US. Rather than actually saying “small medium or large”, they refer to them as “S size”, “M size” or “L size”.

  6. Chicken McNuggets in Japan are still edible. This is largely due to the fact that, unlike their American counterparts, Japanese Chicken McNuggets are are still made from dark meat chicken (see the dark meat/white meat issue on the KFC in Japan vs KFS in the US page).

  7. McDonalds Fried Apple Pies: The apple pies in Japan are still deep fried, not baked like the ones in the USA. As you might expect, this results in a 100% improvement in taste and texture. How can the Japanese get away with flagrantly ignoring the obvious health concerns inherent with fried apple pies? The answer is surprisingly simple. They don't eat them everyday (on a side note, I still miss the fried McDonalds Cherry Pies which i have not seen in decades).

  8. As you likely already know, Japanese customer service is exemplary. This of course, extends to McDonalds as well. Drive through service in the US (particularly near my home in Miami) often fails in a spectacular way. Employees there frequently act as though they are doing you some type of special favor by taking your order and delivering your food. The Japanese drive through employees bow to your car as you drive away. Compare and contrast.

  9. At McDonalds in Japan you have Sokenbicha as a beverage choice. Sokenbicha is a Coca-Cola brand name for a particular tea blend.

  10. The all new McDonalds Bacon and Potato Pie. Basically just another fried pie, but in place of apples the pie is stuffed with a mixture of seasoned mashed potatoes and bacon bits.

Another difference is price. McDonalds in Japan is a bit more expensive than it's counterpart in the US, but the difference is not nearly as obvious as it is with Japanese Kentucky Fried Chicken. As far as similarities go, the french fries are cooked the same (perhaps salted a bit less, but that's an easy fix). They now have the Quarter Pounder and the double Quarter Pounder, both of which are the same as the US versions (these are recent additions). They have the same ice cream cones but they are called soft twist in Japan. And to answer a very common question, I've yet to see rice on the menu at any McDonalds in Japan.

I mentioned the customer service issue above and I genuinely meant what I said. We've been to the Micky D's drive through here well over fifty times and our order has only been wrong once (got a “S” size fry instead of an “M” size). Even then they swiftly corrected the problem and gave us the new order of fries for free.

If during your travels to Japan, you have the chance to check out a Japanese McDonalds it might be interesting to see the differences first hand. I would not however, cancel a trip to any more culturally significant eating establishments (such as okonomiyaki or a ramen house) in order to do so. By and large, McDonalds is McDonalds, wherever in the world you happen to be.