'We Try It' is a regular series where we try the latest off-beat food and beverage offerings.
Twenty-piece meals cost RMB30 and come with three dipping sauces, while a five-piece order costs RMB11.5 and has just one dip. McDonald’s patrons can choose among three flavors: Szechuan Flavored Dipping Sauce, the new Kung Pao Flavored Dipping Sauce and classic Sweet ‘N Sour sauce.
Szechuan Flavored Dipping Sauce
Despite the name, which you’d presume indicates the dip is Sichuan-spicy, the purplish-brown glaze actually tastes like teriyaki sauce.
For fast food fans this may come as no surprise, considering McDonald’s originally released the dip as ‘Szechuan Teriyaki Dipping Sauce’ during a promotional campaign for the 1998 Disney film Mulan. McDonald’s later dropped 'teriyaki' from the dip’s moniker, but a Japan-influenced sauce it remains.
Naming mishaps aside, the sauce is actually delightful, combining a plummy sweetness with the salty zip of soy sauce. One member of our editorial team noted that the dip is comparable to nar sauce, a type of pomegranate molasses used in Turkish cuisine.
But what's inside Mickey D’s 'Szechuan' sauce, you may wonder? Here's the list: fruit and grape sugar puree, water, soy sauce, vinegar, malt extract, sesame oil, apples, apple juice, smashed ginger, mountain pear (aka mountain ash) and more grape sugar.
The dip’s sweetness level is on par with McDonald's standard McNugget sauce, the Sweet ‘N Sour dip; both offer a pleasant contrast when paired with the fast food chain’s signature savory chicken bites.
Who's eating it: Rick and Morty fans, fast food junkies, lovers of teriyaki and nar
The verdict: tasty and unique but nothing to write home about; 4/5
Kung Pao Flavored Dipping Sauce
Composed of peanuts, bean oil, white sugar, egg yolk and crushed red pepper, the new Kung Pao Flavored Dipping Sauce is a winner, plain and simple.
Although greatly overshadowed by the return of Szechuan Flavored Sauce (here’s looking at you, Rick), this dark horse nevertheless offers a subtle, peppery kick complemented by nutty notes.
With a taste that is reasonably faithful (for a fast food chain, anyway) to the world-famous gongbao marinade, we feel this new, orange dipping sauce is far more representative of Sichuan cuisine – renowned for its spicy, mouth-numbing peppers – than the so-called Szechuan Flavored Dipping Sauce.
Who's eating it: McDonald’s patrons underwhelmed by Szechuan Flavored Dipping Sauce
The verdict: tangy, nutty and mildly addictive, this sauce is a step above (for a McNugget dip); 5/5
Both sauces are available at participating Middle Kingdom McDonald’s locations until April 17, 2018.
For more 'We Try It,' click here.
[Photos by Matthew Bossons]