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Daily DripLifestyle

McDonald’s Launches Xinjiang-inspired Meal… and Cilantro Sundaes

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McDonald’s China is no stranger to bizarre culinary concoctions and quirky marketing gimmicks. And while public reaction to the stunts tends to be mixed, there’s no question that they generate plenty of buzz on the internet.

Now, the ubiquitous fast-food franchise is doubling down, dropping not one but two culinary bombs for double your dining delight — or dismay.

We’ll let you decide.

The Xinjiang specialty combo and cilantro sundae are both brand new to the McDonald’s China menu, and we tried (or made) both of them. See our genuine thoughts on the unusual offerings below.

Xinjiang Meets McDonald’s

In recent years, Western brands in China, including McDonald’s and KFC, have created items catering to the Chinese market, such as McDonald’s roujiamo and KFC’s snail noodles and hot and dry noodles.

Now, McDonald’s China has introduced a combo featuring the flavors of Northwest China’s Xinjiang province: For 40 RMB (about 6.3 USD), you get a big plate chicken burger, two cumin chicken wings, a yogurt McFlurry with grapes and oats, and classic Coke.

McDonald’s China xinjiang

McDonald’s new Xinjiang meal. Image via Meituan

The new burger, containing two slices of potato, a fried chicken patty, and secret sauce, is a decent reimagining of the popular chicken stew dish dapanji (大盘鸡), which originated in Xinjiang.

And of course, cumin seeds, grapes, and yogurt are also grown and commonly used in Xinjiang cuisine.

The chicken burger has a noticeable heat, and we found it an enjoyable fast-food experience (although, obviously, it pales compared to the dish that inspired it).

The cumin-spiced wings and yogurt McFlurry, however, were the stars of the meal: The seasoned chicken reminds us of the cumin-drenched barbecued meats found at roadside stalls across Xinjiang (and much of China, for that matter), while the McFlurry makes us wonder why all McDonald’s ice cream doesn’t come infused with yogurt.

A Sundae for Cilantro Lovers

McDonald’s new cilantro ice cream is said to be available this week, from February 21 to 25. Sadly, the shops we visited in Shanghai had sold out of the product on the first day it came out.

But don’t worry, we treated ourselves to some DIY cilantro ice cream instead. We bought McDonald’s standard strawberry sundae and topped it with some fresh cilantro leaves that we got from the jianbing shop downstairs from our office.

Once again, this is a creation from McDonald’s China that absolutely nobody asked for. We still remember McDonald’s soul-sucking innovation from two years ago, the Oreo Spam Burger, and KFC’s durian chicken nuggets in 2019.

Though netizens appear to be excited about the ice cream — the related hashtag on Weibo has 120 million views — many say it’s basically vanilla ice cream topped with lime dressing and a pinch of dry cilantro leaves.

“Both cilantro fans and haters fall silent seeing this product,” reads the top-upvoted comment under McDonald’s official announcement on Weibo.

“Personally, I don’t think there is much cilantro flavor, and the taste is refreshing and amazing!” another diner commented.

Well, no matter whether the new products are delicious or not, they have made waves in the market and attracted considerable attention.

Cover photo via Weibo

Lu Zhao
Lu Zhao is a bilingual and multimedia journalist with a focus on human interest and social issues. Her work has appeared in USA Today, UPI, SupChina, Pandaily, Chicago Reporter, and other publications.
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