The Golden Arches’ latest handiwork in Singapore has seen “overwhelming demand,” but it remains the subject of hot debate in the city state.
In markets outside North America, McDonald’s is well known for extensive menus that cater to local taste-buds, and in celebration of Singapore’s 52nd birthday next month, it released a burger based on a well-loved regional dish.
Widely considered Malaysia’s national fare, nasi lemak consists of rice infused with coconut milk and pandan leaves, deep-fried fish or chicken wings, grilled fish cake, fried anchovies, peanuts, eggs, cucumber and a spicy chill paste called sambal.
Not necessarily an obvious flavor combination for a McDonald’s burger.
But the chain’s ‘Nasi Lemak’ burger was nevertheless released on July 13. Instead of rice, it features semolina buns served with coconut-flavored fried chicken thigh, egg, caramelized onions, cucumber and sambal.
The success of the limited-time offer thus far has exceeded the fast-food giant’s expectations.
“The ‘Nasi Lemak’ burger has proven to be one of our most successful promotions in recent years,” Agatha Yap, senior director of marketing, menu and digital innovation at McDonald’s Singapore, told CNBC. “We’ve seen tremendously overwhelming demand — in fact, double that of our expectations.”
However, some Singaporeans declared the burger was nowhere close to the original dish.
Dear Mac, you should have just used rice bun to replace the burger bun… What is nasi lemak without nasi
— 란 (@haelogic) July 12, 2017
Many said the burger’s lack of coconut milk rice didn’t warrant the nasi lemak label. Nasi means rice in Malay.
— Coconuts Singapore (@CoconutsSG) July 23, 2017
Malaysian culture is pervasive in food-crazy Singapore, which was part of the Muslim-majority nation from 1963 to 1965. And alongside Chinese and Indians, Malays make up one of Singapore’s primary ethnic groups.
To accompany the burger, McDonald’s also released a suite of other locally-inspired menu items, including a McFlurry version of cendol — a Southeast Asian dessert with rice flour jellies as the main ingredient — and the Bandung McFizz, a rose syrup drink.
In the past, other popular local promotions included curry sauce dip for McNuggets and the black pepper spice Prosperity Burger, said Yap. CNBC