With the World Cup fast approaching, it was inevitable that McDonald’s China would ape the other Mickey D’s and launch over-the-top Brazil-themed hamburger specials. Enter the “Hot Samba Hamburger” (热力桑巴堡) and “The Glory of Rio Hamburger” (里约荣耀堡), also known as the “Shrimp and Chicken Hamburger” (珍虾鸡腿堡).
Before we delve inside, let’s talk about the exterior. Yeah, it’s supposed to resemble a soccer ball, but the version we ordered looked more like a bun with the mumps, or a turtle’s carapace – like the bastard son of a Big Mac and Bowser from Super Mario Bros. Fortunately, this poofiness provides a nice cushion for soaking up the sauce-meat runoff that cascades down the side when you bite in.
And there’s quite a bit of juice in the “Hot Samba Hamburger,” which entails four stories of Wendy’s-style square beef patties topped with the lettuce-tomato-onion, and a spicy Thousand-Island-based dressing that’s supposed to symbolize ‘Brazilian passion.’ Okay, it’s a bit hokey, but considering China’s past ‘fast food’ tributes to other cultures, we half-expected the bun to be wearing a ‘dental floss’ bikini. And the flavor’s not bad. Hard to go wrong with a quadruple-decker beef burger whose spiciness actually packs a wallop for fast food.
But it’s far overshadowed by the “Glory of Rio Hamburger,” which, on paper, seems like it’d glorify Rio about as much as the movie “Turistas, and sounds just as revolting with shrimp, fried chicken, and curry sauce – like they condensed one of Long John Silver’s surf and turf options into a burger. But for whatever reason, this seemingly terrifying threesome synchronizes marvelously with the curry’s tang adding welcome tropical zest to the high-octane chicken-shrimp cake duo. So what if the most Brazilian thing about it is the behemoth ‘bunda‘ you’re going to sport afterwards?
Speaking of, the fries fall in line with the theme as well, coming in blindingly-colorful soccer-motifed cartons. Check them out.
The “Hot Samba” runs you 26RMB for a meal with fries and a drink, the “Glory of Rio” 31RMB.
Benjamin Cost is Shanghaiist’s Food Editor. Email tips, recommendations, and news updates on Shanghai’s dining scene to [email protected].