The moment it was unveiled earlier this month, dozens of English-language blogs and news sites slammed Burger King Japan’s new seasonal offering, suggesting that the very notion of a hamburger topped with berries and slathered with a sweet pink sauce sounded about as appetising as a sweetfish hotdog served with a side of sick.
Aside from the occasional slice of pineapple, it is indeed rare to find fruit slipped between a hamburger’s buns, but knowing how well meats like turkey and pork go with sweet and sticky glazes and sauces, we remained optimistic that Burger King was not in fact trying to kill us with its latest creation, and headed down to try it for ourselves.
And as it turns out, the Premium Berry burger is actually kind of awesome.
In case you missed it, Burger King Japan announced the arrival of a pair of seasonal burgers that would be available until Christmas Day.
The first of the two offerings is not so unusual in terms of toppings, but with a name like Mush’n’Cheese, English speakers may not be entirely sure what to expect.
The Mush’n’Cheese features a black pepper beef patty topped with a rich sauce made with four types of mushroom and a variety of cheeses, served in a regular Burger King sesame-seed bun. It retails for 480 yen on its own, or as a medium- or large-size set with fries and a drink for 750 or 860 yen, respectively. Slightly unappetising name aside, the Mush’n’Cheese looks like more or less a typical Burger King sandwich, albeit with some slightly more upmarket ingredients.
It was the Premium Berry burger, however, that raised by far the most eyebrows when it was unveiled this week, with words like “yuck”, “gross” and even “horrific” being used in blog posts announcing its addition to Burger King’s menu.
Featuring actual berries soaked in sweet cranberry, blueberry and blackberry sauce, the Premium Berry riffs on Christmas and Thanksgiving flavours by combining sweet and savoury, and costs 100 yen more than its cheesy brethren. It’s certainly unusual, and we have to admit that we too were sceptical at first, but as regular RocketNews24 readers will know we’ll do anything in the name of science if it involves filling our bellies, so with just shy of $10 in my pocket I headed over to Burger King to procure one of each of the new burgers and bring them back to our office where I could have my way with them.
Arriving back at Rocket Towers with my lunch-cum-test subject in hand, I cleared a space on my desk and warned my coworkers that what was about to go down may not be pretty, but it was for the good of the internet masses. I also informed them to brace themselves as they’d also be trying the burgers whether they wanted to or not.
With the testing area prepped, I gingerly unfurled my brown paper bag. Inside awaited the burgers, the Mush’n’Cheese on the left and Premium Berry on the right, kept apart by a wad of paper napkins like a pair of siblings who just can’t be left alone together.
Since the Premium Berry was the burger getting so much flack online, I decided that’s where I’d start. If this burger was going to be disgusting, I’d at least be doing myself the courtesy of eating it while it was still warm.
I unwrapped the burger and took a step back. The meaty sandwich looked…surprisingly normal, albeit with a couple of tiny purple specks on its bun.
“But what horrors lie beneath that slab of seed-sprinkled bread?” I wondered as I lifted the lid and cautiously peered inside.
Instead of being horrified, I felt a minor twinge of disappointment. Granted, these are supposed to be premium–most likely privately educated and with a sizeable trust fund to their name–berries, but surely Burger King could see fit to giving us a couple more of the things, or at least spread them evenly over the surface of the patty?
It was then that I realised that one of the blueberries had somehow become smushed into the underside of the bun and had formed a lasting relationship with a wafer-thin strip of bacon, making the berry count four instead of three.
With presentation like this, it’s hardly surprising that the Premium Berry burger hasn’t been especially well-received by online commenters thus far, but then again I have yet to meet a single fast food creation that I felt the need to take home to meet my parents the moment I first laid eyes on it, so I stopped staring and got to eating.
To make it a fair taste test, I cut the burger into quarters and distributed it amongst the team, all of whom looked slightly concerned when they heard that blueberries were playing a pivotal role in this seasonal offering.
Just seconds after they’d taken their first bites, however, the office was alive with shouts of “Wow, this is delicious,” and “No, seriously, this is really good!” And I couldn’t agree more: this is one tasty burger.
On paper, the Premium Berry may sound like something the devil cooked up to ruin our love of burgers forever, but the combination of the savoury patty and sweet, slightly tart berries is an absolute winner. The burger even lives up to its premium name, albeit with rather fewer berries than we’d hoped, featuring a decent-sized, satisfyingly meaty patty that has a nice peppery kick to it and is topped with a generous helping of vegetables and sauce. The whole burger experience is a decidedly moreish one, and while it won’t fill you up in quite the same way that a Whopper or a slightly more upmarket burger like those from Japanese chain Journal Standard will, it definitely won’t disappoint, and there’s absolutely no reason to be afraid of those little berries whatsoever.
It may not sound great, and it certainly doesn’t look especially pretty when you lift the lid, but trust us when we say that the Premium Berry is a real winner in the taste department.
Despite its much less imposing appearance, however, it’s the Mush’n’Cheese that’s the loser in this seasonal burger battle. In fact, when I unwrapped it, the burger looked positively depressed from the start, sitting there on my desk with all the life and Christmas buzz of a stocking Santa missed after one too many cups of eggnog.
True to Burger King’s product description, the burger’s sauce contains some decent-sized pieces of mushroom, and the sauce itself tastes much richer than the kind of thing you’d ordinarily expect to find in a fast-food offering, but all-in-all the Mush’Cheese is a far more forgettable experience than its berry-toting brother, and peeking beneath the bun prior to gorging is definitely not advised since the cheese, mushrooms and onions don’t look especially inviting, forming a beige, goopy mass on top of the patty.
It’s perfectly tasty, and none of our team who sampled the burger had any complaints whatsoever, but the Mush’n’Cheese probably won’t break too many hearts when it vanishes from Burger King’s menu on December 26, and if it were us, we’d happy put down the extra 100 yen and go for the berries every time.
So put aside your berryphobia, boys and girls, and give the Premium Berry a go. You have until December 25 to try it and its cheesy bro.
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