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An untold story behind the creation of Pho Burger

First launched in August 2020 by McDonald's, with a mix of the distinctive taste of Vietnamese fine relish and the western signatory dish, Pho Burger marked a new chapter in the brand's journey of “localizing” its menu in Vietnam.
Pho Burger 2022 by McDonald’s 

What inspired the localized menu concept?

McDonald's is known as a giant of Burger worldwide, with signature burgers such as Big Mac, Cheeseburger, Fillet o Fish… In each country where McDonald's is located, McDonald’s always endeavors to understand, study and incorporate traditional specialities in order to create products that blend the native culture while still emphasizing McDonald's highlights. 

Anyone who has tried McDonald's in Europe has undoubtedly had the McBaguette. If you visit Italy, you could have also experienced the pasta from McDonald's or McSpaghetti in the Philippines. If you visit Japan, you might perhaps also have Teriyaki Burger, and if you visit Singapore or Malaysia, you should probably try Nasi Lemak Burger… 

In Vietnam, McDonald’s also earned the hearts of customers by the “localization” approach in menu-design. With standouts products such as The Iced Milk Café, Rice, Crispy Fried Chicken with skin crispy skin and well-marination, Chicken in Garlic Sauce… and Pho Burger, those meals embody regional culinary hues as well as unique McDonald's imprints. The dish was sold out only in its initial establishment.

Why must it be pho-flavoured burger? 

“Driving from inspiration and pride in Vietnamese cuisine, the McDonald's product development team has launched a menu that combines Vietnamese-American culinary quintessence and the Pho Burger is one of them. This familiar yet deviating feature we believe will bring about an extraordinary experience. Pho Burger's condensed essence of Asian cuisine is the hallmark of the dish's success when it is first launched in 2020,” a McDonald's representative said.

What about this innovative journey sticks out in your mind?

It takes a long time to diversify the menu and adapt its offerings to different locales to fulfill McDonald's standards as a major worldwide brand. Combining burgers with Pho is a challenge, yet we must still adhere to McDonald's gold standards.

Pho Burger 2022 by McDonald’s 

According to the product development team, first and foremost is the flavor. Burger has its own aroma from typical European - American food, which is starkly different from Vietnamese sweet taste. Next is the soft porosity of the real burger that can't be compared with the toughness of Vietnamese noodle soup. Only until it appeared that the study process had come to a halt, an excellent idea emerged. To fill the cake mold, why not use noodles? While the concept was excellent, the difficulty we had in locating a supplier who could meet McDonald's criteria made the race to the finish line considerably longer.

This artistic voyage was fraught with countless obstacles. “Pitching and reconstructing, two years have gone by in an instant. Resuming where we left off with the experience segment, we dared to let English muffin bread ‘tell the story’ for pho narrative this time. The cake's flavor has more effectively merged with Vietnamese cuisine; however, the material still has room for improvements regarding softness, toughness and taste…,” said a member of the product development team.

“After several attempts, the bread product for the Pho Burger has finally found its way in the right direction. The original burger origin is still there in this new meal, which has been prepared to best capture the chewy-yet-soft texture of the noodle soup. The bun is white, has a mild flavor, is light in texture, and is moderately chewy and spongy - neither it's too soft nor too firm. The buns, in particular, have been entirely hand-dusted with flour. When baked, it will be slightly scorched and fragrant. Whether eating a whole piece of buns or dipping it separately with Pho sauce, it stays distinctively delicious,” he added.

What is the secret behind Pho Buger? 

The best pho doesn't include pho noodles only.

Meat, veggies and broth are the must-have ingredients in pho. The essence of a bowl of pho, which is adorned with succulent beef and vibrant veggies, is the broth in particular. 

"The success of McDonald's Australian steaks, which have been well accepted by customers for many years, gives us additional self-assurance. Now the problems left are broth, onions, and veggies. Since it's a burger, we undertake a new variation of the Pho sauce using the Pho broth concentrate. To enhance the flavor of a superb bowl of beef noodle soup, this sauce is packed with the same species found in a typical bowl of pho, like cinnamon, anise, and others, along with real Australian beef,” said a McDonald's representative.

The last issue is vegetables.

One year prior to opening in Vietnam, in 2013, the McDonald's team started looking for and training local suppliers for the vegetable items used in their standard burger lines. Choosing the right veggies to complement the product is equally as vital as meeting the quality requirements. Following a series of testing, it was discovered that the product used basil and cilantro rather than scallions. 

 Every McDonald's burger product meets the necessary quality benchmark

In light of this, the Southern-inspired Pho Burger with two varieties of basil and coriander has been set. And in 2020, the final standards that assure quality from the farm to the shop, in addition to the Global Gap standard, will also have been finished, assuring that every McDonald's burger product meets the necessary quality benchmark.

Pho Burger is back, in commemoration of Vietnam National Day 2022.

Although the journey of exploring and experimenting encountered many ups and downs, it also provides the product development team with a wealth of unexpectedly fascinating experiences. McDonald's driving force to keep developing and perfecting its products is the encouragement and affection of consumers during its initial introduction. Acknowledging customers' support, Pho Burger is “back in town” from 26/8/2022 to 30/10/2022 in the celebration of Vietnam National Day.

On this comeback occasion, the brand also express its gratitude to lovely purchasers with special promotions: stylish totes; a variety of deals on the McDonald's app; and limited-time deals to purchase Pho Burgers with VND9,000…

PV

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