Western fast food chains are opening, re-opening and getting fancy in Japan. With over-the-top takes on familiar menu items, the country might want to start counting those imported calories. Sink your teeth into these Japanese twists on American fast food, and tell us if you still think food in Japan is healthy.
It’s always more fun to start with dessert. The newest taste sensation to threaten the once-slim Japanese waistline is Starbucks’ chocolate cookie crumble frappuccino with white chocolate pudding, launched last week. The name is a mouthful, and so is the confection. The cup is half-filled with pudding, topped up with chocolate milkshake, layered thick with whipped cream and then drizzled with chocolate sauce and dusted with chocolate cookie crumbles. Despite the pudding base, it’s served with a straw — the faster to suck down the 700 calories in a grande, or 550 in a more modest tall.
But that’s nothing compared to Burger King’s “Bacon Bomb Burger.” During a special campaign, you can add 15 slices of bacon to your sandwich for ¥100. They list the basic Whopper at 660 calories. Fifteen slices of bacon, at 40 calories a slice, doubles that. The Double Whopper with cheese is 985 calories before the bacon bombing even begins. The low price seems as much like a dare as a PR stunt, and people have been taking them up on it and posting the results online — see the video below if you’ve ever wondered what a thousand slices of bacon on a burger looks like. But don’t watch if you’re hungry — or if you’ve just eaten.
Speaking of double, the KFC Double Down made a big push in Japan, too, as the “Chicken Filet Double.” The original has become renowned even in the United States for its heart-stopping excess: two slabs of fried chicken sandwiching cheese, bacon and sauce. Not to be outdone, Japan created a campaign around modifying this monster. The basic sandwich is almost 600 calories. And KFC in Japan will see America’s buttery biscuits and raise them a layer of melted chocolate on top.
Now, you may be reading this while chomping on a stuffed-crust Pizza Hut pie somewhere in another time zone, smug in the satisfaction that Japan will never out-pizza the U.S. Yawn. Pizza Hut in Japan has had the sausage crust since at least 2006 and the pizza chains have been innovating ever since. At Japan’s Pizza Huts, you can get a ring of crispy sausage baked in around the edge of most pies. The “melty camembert” comes with bacon, camembert sauce and evenly spaced wedges of camembert cheese. It’s about 300 calories a slice. But while the toppings are big, the slices are small. Guaranteed you’re not going to stop at one.
Dominos’ Giga Meat pizza sounds like the ultimate in home-delivered indulgence. And four kinds of meat is only the beginning. Dominos’ Japan pizzas can be ordered with the “Triple Camembert Millefeuille” crust. It has two layers of camembert cheese spread between three layers of crust under whatever else is on your pizza. If that happens to be potatoes and mayo, the highest calorie option, a 1/12th slice tops 400 calories.
With national attention to a rising rate of obesity and metabolic syndrome, or “metabo” as it’s known here, perhaps it’s no wonder that the death at the Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas got a lot of buzz in Japan. Could it be that the story feels like a glimpse into a fat, frightening future?