McDonald's Japan Serves An Unbeatable Shrimp Burger

The Ebi Filet-O is a shrimp sandwich worthy of McDonald's Global Menu Restaurant in Chicago.

Though the establishment is coming up on its sixth anniversary, many Chicagoans might still be unaware of the McDonald's Global Menu Restaurant, part of the McDonald's Global Headquarters in the city's West Loop neighborhood. Though it's located on the site of the fast food behemoth's corporate offices, anyone can mosey up to the sleek glass building and enter its thoroughly corporatized dining room, where they'll be treated to a menu full of international McDonald's items not typically available in the United States. Right now, that means the Ebi Filet-O, a shrimp sandwich from McDonald's Japan that ought to be on the U.S. menu year-round.

The Ebi Filet-O has been available at McDonald's in Japan since at least 2016, featuring a fried seafood patty, shredded lettuce, yellow mustard, and a sauce that's closer to secret sauce than the tartar sauce found on McDonald's perennial North American Filet-O-Fish offering. Also unlike the Filet-O-Fish, the Ebi Filet-O contains no cheese.

The official menu photo appears to feature a croquette bursting with whole, juicy pieces of shrimp tucked beneath a layer of breading, even though the reality isn't quite so photogenic. Still, in the realm of fast food, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the fried shrimp patty contained at least a slightly textured interior, rather than a completely emulsified shrimp paste. (Mmm, shrimp paste.)

This being the McDonald's global HQ, the execution was flawless. The order kiosks were free of finger grease, tables were swiftly turned over and sparkling clean, and the food arrived at our table before I'd fully removed my jacket. Even if you only ever order a McMuffin here, it's worth making the trip at least once. On-site McDonald's fare really is a step above anything that has traveled in a bag on your passenger seat.

The Ebi Filet-O is hot and crispy without being greasy or overly salty, and though it appears diminutive, it hits the spot perfectly. Just as a Chicken McNugget doesn't boast much poultry flavor, I can't say this sandwich tastes "like shrimp" in any meaningful way, but the patty's slightly springy consistency and relative lightness (by the standards of anything deep-fried) definitely matches that of a satisfying plate of shrimp tempura. By contrast, a cod filet is rather dense and oily.

The sauces are applied on either side of the shrimp patty, making it easy to differentiate them; each one is applied in the ideal ratios to lend both acidity and creaminess. Given the West Loop location's high turnover, the sesame seed bun is going to be soft and fresh every time—a key differentiator in the world of fast food and particularly with this offering.

It's as though each bite underlines how McDonald's has come to its global dominance: not merely by imposing its signature menu of burgers and chicken onto the rest of the world, but by finding creative ways to cater to each market's existing preferences while retaining the brand's essential character. Believe me, I don't want to heap pure praise upon McDonald's—the brand has flopped on a number of fronts in recent years—but no one can deny that as a corporate entity, it knows how to cater to our cravings, even if it means serving us sandwiches from 6,500 miles away.

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