I was in Japan last week. So you bet your ass I was going to track down and eat a black hamburger.
The "Ikasumi" (イカスミバーガー), a Halloween-themed burger, is a limited-run menu item currently being served at McDonalds in Japan.
Like Burger King's similar offering, it looks disgusting. But it's actually one of the best McDonalds burgers I've ever had.
The black buns dominate aesthetically, but actually have zero effect on flavour. They taste exactly like a regular McDonalds burger bun (or at least the fancier type you get on stuff like an Angus burger), and really, they're not even black; in the flesh, the bun is more of an ashy-grey colour.
The guts of the burger are made up of a couple of patties, a chipotle sauce, fried onions, cheese and a second, black sauce. Which has squid ink in it. More on that later.
Each bite is initially dominated by two things: the fried onions and the chipotle. The onions have a strong flavour of their own but also a dry crunch, while the mildly spicy (its spicy enough to let you know it, not enough to make you reach for some milk) chipotle gets close to overwhelming the taste of everything else in your mouth, before pulling up just short.
But then, a few seconds after biting, the ikasumi (squid ink) sauce hits you. It's a strange taste, one I'm not exactly familiar with, and while McDonalds say it's squid ink there was also a hint of barbecue tang in there as well. That little sting in the tail goes great with the double patties, onion and chipotle.
There are enough off-kilter ingredients in the mix that this doesn't actually taste much like a McDonalds burger. You know that taste? How the onions and patties and whatever else taste the same across the entire range (and the entire planet), so there's a sense of familiarity there no matter what burger you're eating? Yeah, this doesn't have that.
And that's what I liked most about it! It tasted fancy, with the crunch and the new sauces getting together to trick me into thinking I'd paid $9 for something from a hipster burger cafe, not ordered something from McDonalds.
If you live in Japan, or are travelling through while the promo is running, definitely grab one. Just don't look down while you eat it, because while it's delicious, the colour scheme is pretty gross when you look down.