Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Nacho Stacker Box Meal Review

Yep, it's that time again. TLO time. The latest and greatest to come out of the secret labs at KFC UK HQ is the Nacho Stacker Box Meal. Promotional material for this new release has appeared all over London in the last week or 2 and I have to say, I was quite excited when I spotted it. The poster shows off the new product and describes it as "Packing a mean crunch", while packaging uses the line "It's crunch time". Personally I prefer the image posted on the KFC Facebook page, with a simple, sparse design and the line "Nacho + Burger...there is a god". Hopefully this new streamlined and refined style will continue because it feels quite effective to me.

After the initial excitement, I took a closer look at the details - this is essentially a Fully Loaded Box Meal, except with the new Nacho Stacker burger. The burger itself is also very similar to the Fillet Tower, with the addition of a nacho layer and a slightly different salsa-type sauce (more on this later). I felt a little disappointed that there wasn't more to it, but was keen to give it a go (hoping that it would at least come up on par with the Nacho Cheese Tower Burger that I had in Australia).

I tried the Nacho Stacker at the Brighton KFC restaurant (branch review coming soon!) where the service was swift and I was soon sat in the upper level seating ready to tuck in. The unboxing...

As expected, the Nacho Stacker looks nearly identical to a regular Fillet Tower. The crispy corn nacho can clearly be seen above the hash brown, and the new sauce oozing out at the base. I could immediately tell by the dark, rich red colour of the sauce that this wasn't regular ketchup or zinger salsa. It was time to take a bite and find out how it tasted.

*CRUNCH* As my jaw clamped down, the satisfying sound of cracking nacho could be heard, certainly matching expectations set by the promotional material. The nacho layer added a slightly different chewing texture, but didn't seem to add much to the flavour. I guess a nacho isn't much else besides corn and salt, so this is to be expected. In stark contrast, the new sauce is full of flavour and reminded me of a tangy but cool salsa with a hint of mango chutney, ever so slightly sweet. I enjoyed it but did wonder if an overly generous amount of salsa (which can happen sometimes) might be a bit too much. One to watch out for.

All in all, the sauce and nacho texture combined with classic Original Recipe chicken and hash brown made for an enjoyable meal. Interestingly, the salsa in my burger was under the chicken, but in the promotional material the sauce appears to be on top of the nacho. This may have been an error in the construction of my meal, and I wonder if having the salsa on top of the nacho would give it more of a complete nacho/salsa experience and while making more of the nacho layer (although there is a risk of soggyness).

It's good to see some new, interesting ingredients coming into the mix rather than just a different sauce every now and again. A step in the right direction, and although the Nacho Stacker won't be winning any awards here at KFB, I'm hungrily looking forward to what the next TLO might bring.

Taste: 8/10
Value: 6/10
Innovation: 6/10


Tuesday, 10 July 2012

July 4th in Japan Means All You Can Eat KFC

While most Americans were busy celebrating Independence Day, it seems Japan had a different reason to be jumping for joy. KFC in Japan chose this monumental day to roll out an all-you-can-eat KFC buffet to its 381 restaurants nationwide.

As reported by Kotaku, "On July 4 between 1pm and 4pm, you could shell out ¥1,200 (US$15) for 45 minutes of original recipe face stuffing". This seems like a pretty good deal, with the average person managing 7.6 pieces of chicken (not to mention fries and soft drinks). Value for money indeed!

We have to admit that we're pretty jealous here at KFB, the idea of an all-you-can-eat KFC buffet is something we've only dreamt of.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Streetwise Cheese Top Burger Arrives in the Philippines

In a stroke of genius/moment of madness, KFC in the Philippines has seen fit to introduce a new addition to their Streetwise menu...a cheese topped burger. That's right.
The first and only cheese topped bun burger with KFC’s signature Original Recipe chicken patty with rich Garlic Parmesan dressing. Satisfy your craving with KFC's new Cheese Top Burger!

The description and promotional shot there are taken directly from the KFC Philippines Facebook page. Here at KFB we are skeptical as to whether this burger is, strictly speaking, "Streetwise". The essence of street food is the ability to be consumed on the move, which would normally mean using your hands. A burger bun acts as the perfect tool for containing delicious, hot and messy fillings, and keeps your hands nice and clean. Surely putting the cheese on the top of the bun makes this a logistical nightmare?

On the flip side, we're intrigued by this Garlic Parmesan dressing and would love to see it make an appearance over here to the UK. Maybe a special edition Chicken Caesar Fillet Tower burger, using this new sauce? Perhaps this whole thing is a publicity stunt, a cunning way to attract the public's attention and cause a storm in the social media world? If that was the idea, it's certainly worked.

We'll be sending a KFB reporter out to the Philippines to get his grubby (certainly will be afterwards) mits on this new burger as soon as our budget permits.

Friday, 1 June 2012

KFC Ad causes massive mastication outrage

It was revealed this week that a 2005 ad for the Zinger Crunch Salad is the most complained about in the history of UK advertising. Apparently people felt it encouraged singing with your mouth full...

We therefore felt it appropriate to canvas the opinion of you, our dedicated readers to see what you thought. Personally we think it's very catchy and funny. Let us know in the comments, folks.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Reggae Reggae Box Meal Review

So the time comes once again for a new TLO (time-limited offer) at KFC. If you've been following us here at KFB recently you'll know that the TLOs have been on a steady downward spiral ever since the incredible peak that was the Hot Rods Box Meal, primarily due to a lack of innovation. Could Levi Roots' famous musical sauce turn things around? Could this be the shot in the thigh that the Colonel has been looking for of late? Or will this be yet another disappointment? Read on to find out.

The prospect of a new TLO is always an exciting one (if tinged with a little trepidation these days) and the Reggae Reggae Box Meal was no different. A Caribbean-influenced addition to the menu surely couldn't go far wrong. After all, jerk chicken is a famous national dish of Jamaica, the home of Mr Roots and almost always delicious. With this in mind, we ordered at Marble Arch: KFC UK's flagship branch.

The first shock was the price: KFC has recently taken to automatically upgrading all meals in their largest central London branches to 'large' sizes (something this blogger complained directly to HQ about) meaning the meal cost a whopping £5.69. Naturally, we felt the need to Tower Up which adding a shocking 50p extra.

The meal arrived:

Reggae Reggae burger, fries, drink, side, mini breast fillet and a dipping sauce (which was totally absent). Sadly it seems the branch had run out of the special TLO boxes which dampened the spirits somewhat.

Let's cut straight to the chase: this is a fillet tower burger with Reggae Reggae sauce instead of ketchup. Nothing else is different. No special ingredients, no additional marinades, no Jamaican inspired bun. Nothing. Our hopes were immediately dashed: once again the Colonel has seen fit to simply take an existing product, make a tiny variation and sell it as something new and exciting. Still, we cracked on with the eating.

The accompaniments to the burger were all of high quality. Crunchy, hot fries, 3 step gravy and a succulent (if unusually small) mini fillet. No complaints here. 

The main event

A Fillet Tower is a consistently delicious burger (though obviously no Zinger Tower). The real question here is around the sauce and the first issue was that it wasn't spread equally around the bun, meaning the last few bites contained none of that Jamaican flavour. When we did taste it though, we liked what we were experiencing: zingy, tangy, fruity and spicy all combine in the mouth to provide a flavour never before known at KFC. And despite the fact that the mayo was still included in the burger, it all worked together very well. We just wish there was more of it or that the chicken had been marinaded in a jerk seasoning to add that special extra punch.

We've said it before and we'll say it again: the Colonel needs to bring something new to the table. Simply adding a new sauce to an existing product is just not good enough. What's happened to the creative geniuses that suggested the Hot Rods or Wrapstars of this world? The most innovation we get today is the Supercharger: a new type of roll containing two mini fillets and a sauce recycled from a special edition Zinger Tower from many moons ago. The depressing thing is, having visited KFC's HQ in the UK and toured the test kitchen, we know that they're experimenting with some products that are seriously pushing the boundaries (one of which didn't even contain chicken!). It's just a real shame that they don't have the guts to bring them to market.

Taste: 6.5/10
Value: 5/10
Innovation: 2/10


Saturday, 11 February 2012

KFC World Tour, Part 7: Singapore

It's been over a year since I returned from my KFC world tour, so I think it's about time I wrapped this thing up with a final post. It's long overdue, but worth the wait. The homeward leg of my journey saw me stopping off in Singapore for one last chicken banquet.

With only a couple of days to explore Singapore, I had limited time but made sure to prioritise a KFC visit. The branch I selected was situated at the entrance to Singapore Zoo which made for a grand final day including monkeys, tigers, snakes, crocodiles and some of the finest chickens I have ever seen - deep fried and kentucky style of course!

The Singaporean KFC menu was one of the more interesting and exotic I had seen on my travels.

Of note were the Fish Zinger, Cheesy BBQ Meltz and Bandito Pocket meals, all of which come served with a side of "whipped potato" and coleslaw. Although tempted by the Fish Zinger, I decided to try the Cheesy BBQ Meltz and went all out by adding a side of "cheese fries".

The Cheesy BBQ Meltz is essentially an exploded Wrapstar, but more closely resembling a taco laid on its side. Unfortunately mine had arrived cold, and due to language problems I was unable to seek a replacement product (although I'm sure this would have been no problem). My assumption was that the item had been assembled some time ago and wasn't particularly fresh, but the thin wrap would have also extenuated the problem. Inside the Meltz wrap lurked a spattering of chopped Original Recipe chicken, melted cheese and diced tomato; on paper a winning combination, but in reality, it missed that certain edge that you only get with zing or a peppery mayo.

Interesting to note, the cheese fries were topped with some finely chopped chives. A nice touch that gave the meal a high quality, gourmet finish (at least to look at, the fries were quite soggy).

The stand out success story of the meal was, again, the whipped (mashed) potato with gravy. Why oh why KFC UK have shunned this classic accompaniment I have no idea. I hold out hope that one day I will be able to replace my BBQ beans side order with a tub of delicious mash (or order both for an explosive combination of flavour and texture).

On my way out, I noticed an advert for the KFC Roasta, a roasted skinless thigh fillet in a "signature marinade" topped with creamy mayo, salad and all served in an oat bran dusted bun. This delightful concoction really seemed to push the boundaries, and I was very disappointed to have missed this ad on my way in as I definitely would have tried it. Sadly, I had to leave and catch my flight home, but I hope that the Roasta and its "signature marinade" make it to the UK.

All good things must come to an end, and after a 13 hour flight I was back in the UK. The colonel had some real surprises for me up his sleeves and I hope some of what I experienced finds its way back to our shores. All in all, my trip had been a resounding success, opening my eyes to a whole new world of KFC.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Dippin' Strips - Current TLO is not VFM

Yesterday I sampled the current TLO. Whilst I am pleased to announce that this is a new one (technically), Dippin' Strips is hardly a good one.

For £4.69 you can grace your plate with 3 mini fillets, Chips, regular drink and 2 dips.

Now of course the chicken is of good quality, that's not in contention....After all this is KFC. However for an extra 90p you could be enjoying what even KFC acknowledge is a meal fit for a king.... the Boneless Banquet. For your 90 pence you'd get extras worth over £2 in the form of regular side and Small popcorn chicken. Then simply ask your server to be presented with a tub of mayo and BBQ sauce and hey presto you've bettered the current Time Limited Offer by miles making it not much of an 'offer' and not very good Value For Money!

This is a further cynical attempt to monetise condiments which has been tried time and time again, wheras competitors provide condiment pumps on their ancilliary items islands this is not a route KFC has chosen to go down. The only time this worked was the Sauce 2hot4you which came in larger 50 gram tubs and was so delicious paying 20p for it felt like a privlege. (PS. watch out for 150ml bottles of this available for sale some time this year).

In short..... this is a poor excuse for a TLO showing a lack of imagination. I don't think any TLO's have yet utilised the brazer line of products to tempt a more health conscious audience through the door at lunch time.

Come on KFC up the game.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

KenTurkey Fried Chicken

Always keen to sample exotic strains of KFC, KFB recently visited the world's foremost poultry related nation: Turkey - to try their take on our favourite food.

I'm sad to report that KFC in Turkey is massively outnumbered in Istanbul by its two main rivals, but we located one in the fashionable district of Beyoglu and got down to business.

Being at the opposite end of the continent from where I usually eat my chicken I was surprised to find a near carbon copy of the UK menu, and restaurant design. This did however have one advantage, I could give a side by side appraisal of the strengths of the Turkish operation when compared to our own UK version.
I opted for one of my favourite TLO's, the Boxmaster, which arrived in good proportions and was well constructed. The meal price was 10.95 Turkish lira which works out at a very agreeable £3.85. On top of the meal I opted for some Hotshots (think scaled up popcorn chicken with a kick - delicious) and of course I had to sample the 'Gravy Sos' which was a pretty good attempt at emulating the British version.

One area that put us to shame was the Turkish version of the Freshen Up Wipe which really was of premium quality and extra large in comparison to our own.
Another great feature, delivery... which KFB has seen offered in a few places, I think it's high time this made its way to the UK.

Overall, however, although in appearance it matched the UK, in quality it just didn't quite measure up, the meal was... ok.

The best thing however was being able to get my very own souvenir KFC fridge magnet which now proudly adorns the KFB northern office's fridge... check it out:

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

A Bun deal

The Kaiser is dead.....Long live the new bun.

It is with great joy that I report upon the barely noticed phase out of the Sesame Kaiser bun that has graced UK burgers since 2003. It has been replaced by the as yet un-named 3 striped variety as seen in the below picture sporting a rather sexy Zinger tower interior.
I did not want to report upon this phenomenon, first witnessed in the closing months of 2011; in case it was a temporary measure due to supply issues, but I now feel confident enough to herald its arrival as a staple of both Fillet and Zinger burgers.

The new bun crucially maintains its sprinkling of Sesame seeds which really offer a touch of class to KFC burgers above and beyond their rivals at other well known burger chains. On the 10 or so occasions I have tried a burger with the new style bun, it has not disappointed; remaining soft and fresh even on Sunday's, the day I was statistically most likely to be disappointed. My amateur photography does not really do it justice in comparison to the artistically captured second picture this is a good looking bun.

Although it has served us well since the great burger overhaul of 03 the Sesame kaiser seen here in the second picture could really let down a meal.

A sunday lunch was often ruined by its tendency to become stale and break apart, making the already messy ZT a nightmare. In fact I have been known to turn my ZT's into open sandwices by the removal of the top layer altogether such was the effect of a stale bun!

Here's hoping the new bun continues to shine and suffers a better fate than its predecessor, quietly consigned to the annals of history recorded only here as another footnote in the greatest story ever told .........KFC