Depending on where you stand, fast food “inventions” can either be inspired or idiotic. No one can quite be sure whether adding a mystery third bun to a Big Mac is completely ridiculous or the best thing to happen to sandwiches since sliced bread. Either way, it’s indicative of an industry where weird ideas are allowed to run riot.
Walking the tasty tightrope between madness and genius is one of the strangest sandwiches to have ever come out of the McDonald’s kitchen. A carb-heavy hybrid of Italian cheese sticks, fried chicken and arrabbiata sauce, all served in South Korea, the McChicken Mozzarella answers the question of what would happen if Guy Fieri’s mind made love to an Olive Garden menu. It looks and sounds bonkers. Naturally, we needed to try it.
Unfortunately, being based in Whitechapel rather than Seoul meant that we had a serious 5,500-mile barrier between us and cheesy chicken bliss. Uber Eats has come a long way in the last few years, but even they have their limits. In lieu of having the budget to justify a two-day chicken sandwich commute, we had to get creative.
Like a slightly less diabolical Dr Moreau, we engaged in some minor McChicken surgery - operating on the standard burger by adding two mozzarella dippers and a spread of salsa dip as per the visual aid on mcdonalds.co.kr. We soon discovered why cylindrical ingredients are best kept away from sandwiches, as our mozzarella made a series of valiant escape attempts across the chopping board. After some Jenga-style stacking, our scruffy-looking pseudo-McChickens were ready.
Judging by a brief internet search, the original McChicken Mozzarella seems to divide opinion between delicious and a crushing disappointment. Our assessment of the self-assembled imitation fell somewhere in the middle. The mixture of chicken and lukewarm cheese made everything taste beige, sticky and homogenous. Bread and filling soon formed into one indistinguishable clump. It felt like someone else had already chewed out all the flavour.
The replacement salsa failed to provide the fire needed to give everything a lift, while some sticks renewed their bid for freedom as soon as we took a bite. It definitely wasn’t bad, but there wasn’t much to get angry or excited about. Since this was a sandwich that had looked like it couldn’t be boring if it was the keynote speaker at a stationary convention, this conclusion was almost more infuriating than if it had been straight-up rubbish.
Of course, there are several caveats to our experiment. For starters, we didn’t actually eat the proper McChicken Mozzarella sandwich, so our assessment could be about as accurate as an average White House press release. We welcome feedback from anyone lucky enough to have tasted the real thing.
Nonetheless, our attempt did teach us something valuable. Just because a dish seems intriguing on paper doesn’t mean it can’t have the personality of a boiled turnip. The idiom about books and covers is apparently just as true for sandwiches - even if they do happen to be stuffed with mozzarella sticks.