Aji WOW is my series of unusual Japanese food/drink reviews. 'Aji' (味) means 'flavour', and the name's also a pun on 'ajiwau' (味わう) - 'to enjoy the taste of'.
This time: the McDonald's Morinaga milk caramel milkshake.
In my pursuit of the strange, unusual and time-limited edibles Japan has to offer, I feel like I've ended up at McDonald's a lot.
Over here, they bring out rather more special menu items than the UK manages. They've just revived the Texas burger (which is full of mustard), and will be bringing the iconic (in Japan) Bacon Potato Pie back very soon. Yes, I will try and eat it.
The Morinaga milk caramel shake is an autumn limited edition drink. Both McD's and Morinaga have a long history and a big brand reputation in Japan. They've been playing this up in a series of TV CMs for the new shake. Like this one:
Nice concept, shame about the inept foreign employee. Who happens to have a name that begins with M. As does 'marketing'.
The gist of the whole thing is that they can't agree on whether McDonald's or Morinaga is the more important brand name. This leads to some uniquely Japanese confusion, like who should take the most important seat in the meeting room, and where to put the drink on screen for filming.
From the ads and the promo materials, I was expecting a special edition caramel yellow and purple milkshake cup. So what did my Morinaga caramel shake look like from the outside?
Well, what does it look like on the inside?
Putting your face closer to the cup and inhaling did bring the subtle scent of caramel out. That was the only way I knew I hadn't been bait-and-switched with a standard vanilla milkshake. And everyone around me thought I was taking pics of a standard vanilla milkshake. As if I'd come from a country that doesn't have McDonald's.
...do those exist?
The first drag I took on the straw was... confusing. I'm vaguely familiar with the flavour of Morinaga caramel. This shake tasted like a liquidised marshmallow. There was caramel in there somewhere, but my tongue was working overtime trying to recognise it.
Glad I only ordered a small shake, because the sweetness started to get overwhelming. You can choose it with a meal set, but it's not at all the kind of thing to wash a burger down with.
It'd work better as a dessert. Except McD's can't do that. They've not long launched a new Pompompurin McFlurry and another dessert would be overkill.
As the Morinaga rep in one of the other CMs (below) says: it's so tasty it's awful.