Sunday 14 July 2013

Never mind the Minions, here’s the rendang burger death match

History repeating itself? So soon?

Last week on its Facebook page, a fast food chain announced that due to “overwhelming support”, it was running out of an item “way before schedule”.

For once, the item isn’t McDonald’s Hello Kitty toy. That’s so last month.

It’s also not one of the three Minion toys that McDonald’s is giving away with its Happy Meals, although the cute yellow and blue characters from the movie Despicable Me were all gone when I went to look for them on Thursday night.

All I saw was a sign at McDonald’s that said: “This week’s Despicable Me 2 Happy Meal toys had been fully redeemed.”

The sign triggered painful flashbacks to the night I queued and failed to get the Singing Bone Hello Kitty two weeks ago. The horror, the horror.

I was so disoriented that I ordered a Happy Meal anyway. Instead of a Minion toy, I was given a Hello Kitty toy, which triggered another round of flashbacks. The horror, the horror, the horror, the horror.

I’ve read that Malaysia is currently in the grip of its own Hello Kitty-like craze – over the Minions. McDonald’s customers across the causeway are reportedly keeping the toys and dumping the Happy Meals by the trolley load.

They have become minions to the Minions.

But I shouldn’t laugh at our neighbours up north as Singapore is in only the first week of the Despicable Me 2 promotion. There are still two sets of Minions to be released over the next two weeks.

The five-week Hello Kitty promotion started quietly and built up to a frenzy only in the last two weeks.

Well, the last two weeks of the Despicable Me 2 promotion are the next two weeks. I expect at least one viral video of frustrated Minion-less queuers arguing with McDonald’s employees before the end of the month. Get the riot police ready.

Anyway, the Facebook post I mentioned earlier wasn’t even by McDonald’s. It was by Burger King.

BK posted on Wednesday: “Due to your overwhelming support, we’re running out of the rendang burgers way before schedule. We apologise for that and we thank you for supporting the original rendang burger!”

I wasn’t sure how to react to this. On the one hand, it’s refreshing for a fast food chain to announce that it’s running out of food instead of a toy for a change.

On the other hand, how can Burger King run out of any burger? Isn’t it like, uh... the king of burgers?

This was especially disappointing to me since I was planning my own Singapore food face-off between Burger King’s rendang burger and McDonald’s rendang burger, inspired by last Sunday’s SingTel Hawker Heroes Challenge with Gordon Ramsay.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I went to the Burger King outlet at Causeway Point on Friday and discovered that the rendang burger was still available.

Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim should chastise Burger King in parliament for causing unnecessary anxiety by spreading false online rumours about its own burger.

Anyway, the good news is the Burger King versus McDonald’s rendang burger death match is back on!

First, a little back story.

According to, Burger King created the rendang burger way back in 1987. In 2009, the burger was named one of Travel+Leisure magazine’s global top five burgers.

Then in June 2011, after 24 years, Burger King took the rendang burger off the menu.

Someone was so upset by this that he or she created a Facebook page called “Boycott BK for killing off rendang burger”. The page has 28 likes the last time I checked.

The most recent update was eight days ago. It read: “Given that the rendang burger is back at BK Singapore for a limited period, the call for boycott by this page is suspended for this limited period.”

Did the Facebook campaign have anything to do with Burger King bringing back the rendang burger? I’m going to say no.

Four days later on the day of Burger King's misleading Facebook post, McDonald’s launched its own rendang burger as part of its Singapura Feast, which also includes curry Shaker fries, durian McFlurry and Rose McFizz (not to be confused with Rose McGowan).

It was a declaration of war.

And having tasted the rendang burgers from both Burger King and McDonald’s, I declare the winner of the food fight is... the rendang burger without the mayonnaise.

That would be McDonald’s.

The King is dead! Long live the Clown’s rendang burger!

Burger King’s rendang burger is no longer the same as the one that was named one of Travel+Leisure magazine’s global top five burgers in 2009.

That one had sliced onions and no mayo. This one has chopped onions and, yes, mayonnaise.

Rendang with mayo is a crime against nature and all taste buds.

I hope someone starts a Facebook campaign to boycott Burger King for adding the mayonnaise.

It’s despicable.

- Published in The New Paper, 14 July 2013

APRIL 2014 UPDATE: The BK rendang burger is back - this time without mayo.

SEPTEMBER 2014 UPDATE: The BK rendang burger is back for good.