Tous Les Jours Ham and Cheese Panini A Disappointment


So this is the Ham and Cheese Panini I purchased from the Korean bakery Tous Les Jours that opened fairly recently on the corner of Yuyuan Road 愚园路 and Jiaozhou Road 胶州路 behind Jing’an Temple, the one with Professor Do Min-joon plastered all over itself situated right next to the also Korean MANGOSIX.

It was 22 RMB, which would be 1 RMB more than a McDonald’s Double Cheeseburger value meal. I had scrutinized their other sandwich offerings before choosing this one. The others looked were pretty but looked light on the ingredients and while I should’ve known better, I chose this offering on account of its size and despite it being completely wrapped in paper giving me no idea how many ingredients were within.

Suffice to say, after unwrapping it, I’m not particularly impressed.


Granted, I’m sure the meat and cheese are of a higher quality than what you’d find in a packaged ham and cheese sandwich (~6.5 RMB) one might purchase from a convenience store like Family Mart or 7-11, which is also thick with bread and thin on the costlier ingredients. Sure, the bread is their own and probably fresh baked. And finally, it wasn’t necessarily untasty either. But…

…it just doesn’t feel like a terribly good value.

For further comparison, I could get a more substantive 6-inch subway for 15 RMB from, well, Subway that wouldn’t necessarily have terribly lower quality ingredients.

To be mean, this isn’t even a panini, which refers to a sandwich that doesn’t use sliced bread.

I’m unsatisfied.

McDonald’s New “Half” Cheeseburger Only 8 RMB

New Cheeseburger at McDonald's in China comes with only half a slice of cheese.

What you see above is the new “Cheeseburger” offering at McDonald’s in China.

Or at least at this specific location in Shanghai.

The reason I’m posting this should be obvious: the “cheese” in this cheeseburger is half the normal slice I recall McDonald’s cheeseburgers historically using.

What the hell is this?

McDonald’s menu in China has undergone some notable changes in the past couple of months:

First, they increased prices across the board, with their “value meals” generally increasing about 2-3 RMB each. At the same time, they launched a special deal where you can get a Double Cheeseburger, Double McChicken, or a Double McFish with a Medium Drink (no fries) for 15 RMB. Given the timing, I saw this as their effort to soften the blow of (or distract from) the price hike.

Second, they changed the format of the menu, and this must’ve happened very recently (within this month). Now, instead of a price for a combo (ex. 23 RMB for a medium-sized Big Mac value meal), you are presented with the “main dish” (burger, sandwich, etc.) and its a la carte price, and then given four different options to make it a “combo meal”:

  1. +7 RMB for Medium Fries and Medium Drink;
  2. +9 RMB for 5pc McNuggets and Medium Drink;
  3. +10 RMB for Chicken Pieces and Medium Drink;
  4. +7 RMB Cup of Corn and Medium Drink.

My Cheeseburger was 8 RMB, so by making it a combo with fries and a drink, my total bill was 15 RMB. A Double Cheeseburger is 14 RMB, so with fries and a drink, it would come out to 21 RMB, the same as it was before. Likewise, a Big Mac a la carte is 16 RMB, so adding fries and a drink would make it 23 RMB, again equaling the value meal price McDonald’s previosuly promoted on their overhead display menus.


It’s easy to speculate that this allows McDonald’s to display “lower” prices to their customers, or partially mask the recent price increase.

This format change follows in Burger King’s footsteps (at least in China). The “Home of the Whopper” switched to this format quite awhile ago but has less emphasis on “side dish” options (Fries or Onion Rings) on their in-store display menus. I remember being confused by Burger King’s switch to this format, because the a la carte prices for their burgers and sandwiches looked like their old combo meal prices except now they wanted something like an extra 14 RMB (I forgot) for fries and a drink. If I didn’t remember their old prices incorrectly, this seemed like a huge price increase to me. Even now, the a la carte prices at Burger King are in the same range as full value meal prices at McDonald’s, and some of their burgers are easily pricier by themselves than even McDonald’s most expensive value meals.

I’m not terribly sold on “flame-broiled” commanding such a premium.

Prices at McDonald’s have increased over the years in China as well, which is an unsurprising consquence of general inflation. What’s interesting is how McDonald’s has changed and experimented with its pricing strategies. For some time, it tried offering a cheaper price for its value meals for a few hours around lunch (later expanded to a few hours also around dinner) that was offset by significantly higher prices at all other times. Eventually, they abandoned this strategy and went back to a single price at all hours. The above limited-time 15 RMB fries-less specials and this new “pick your burger and then your side” menu format are likewise interesting as a reflection of how McDonald’s has introduced price increases and how it manages price-consciousness of their customers (again, at least in China).

All this interest in fast food business strategies and practices aside, I’m just wondering if the slices of cheese in McDonald’s Double Cheeseburger have been halved as well, because that would really piss me off. If they haven’t and they remain two full quare slices as they’ve been in the past (I haven’t had a Double Cheeseburger since this menu format change that I only discovered today), then either the Cheese Burger needs to be renamed to the Half Cheeseburger or the Double Cheeseburger needs to be renamed to the Quadruple Cheeseburger for naming accuracy (presuming the “double” refers to slices of cheese and not just beef patties).

To be fair, this is my first time ordering a plain Cheeseburger at a McDonald’s in China. For all I know, their Cheeseburgers here have always only had a half slice of cheese, further distancing themselves from the images they use in their marketing. To be extra fair, maybe they normally use a full slice of cheese but whoever made my Cheeseburger today just happened to give me a stunted slice and I’m just unlucky.

I suppose I’ll have to dine at McDonald’s again (see update below), to confirm that Cheeseburgers only come with half a slice of cheese and determine if the Double Cheeseburgers still comes with two full slices.

Hey, this stuff is important.

UPDATE: (January 21)

I’ve updated the above post with more detailed current pricing information, and I may owe McDonald’s an apology. I ordered another Cheeseburger today and it came with a full slice of cheese. Granted, it was at another McDonald’s location, but I’m now inclined to think my first experience described above was just a fluke. Thank god.

UPDATE: (February 28)

It appears the new mix-and-match menu format has been reverted back to the old value meal format, so you can no longer opt to have pair your “main” with a choice of “sides” (fries, nuggets, wings, or cup of corn) at slightly different prices. McDonald’s China’s online ordering website still seems to allow users to choose between medium fries, large fries, small cup of corn, or large cup of corn with each value meal.

However, McDonald’s delivery service is substantially more expensive than dining in or ordering to-go. Not only is there a flat 8 RMB (currently) delivery fee on all orders, I believe every menu item is priced higher than in-store. For example, a Double-Cheeseburger value meal (with Medium Fries and Drink) is 30 RMB + 8 RMB delivery fee, for a 15 RMB (or ~65%) premium over its in-store menu price.

Transcendence: Better Than Expected, Poetic Ending

transcendence-movie-posterWhen I first saw a trailer for the movie Transcendence (IMDB/Wikipedia), I thought to myself that the premise was somewhat interesting but the actual plot looked mundane. In other words, I suspected it would be like The Purge (IMDB/Wikipedia). The premise of whether or not a man’s consciousness should be digitized onto a computers and then expanded onto the internet is the sort of sci-fi philosophical conundrum that would pique my curiosity. Unfortunately, the trailer looked like a creepy Johnny Depp just menacing his former wife and then the rest of humanity. Instead of being a movie that would make think, it’d just be a disappointing techno-thriller.

Continue reading Transcendence: Better Than Expected, Poetic Ending

AE Kitchen has a new Yu Yuan Road location!

A.E. Kitchen apparently has a new, second location on Yu Yuan Road in addition to its original Jiao Zhou Road location in Shanghai. Gotta check it out sometime. Looks like the Mr. Pancake House competitor is expanding as well.

I always liked the better deal of A.E. Kitchen including coffee in its meals unlike Mr. Pancake House. Plus, they allow refills up until 5pm in the afternoon.

4/29 UPDATE: I’m in the Yu Yuan Road location right now because the Jiao Zhou Road location was closed when I went earlier. Apparently, this location isn’t new at all and has been around for quite some time (though less than a year). I guess I just never noticed and the address of location is just more prominent in their recently redesigned menus! This location is roomier.

Apparently they’re also enforcing a new “only one refill policy” for coffee now. That sucks.

Kim Bauer is annoying as hell

Kim Bauer is annoying as hell.

I’ve been watching the first season of Kiefer Sutherland’s 24 (Wikipedia) over the past week and am four episodes into the second season. Jack Bauer’s daughter has so far repeatedly and consistently done the stupidest things causing grief for both her parents and any sane viewer.

This little post was finally instigated by her reacting indignantly to a doctor confronting her about signs of abuse on the little girl she just started taking care of as a nanny in Season 2 (PPS). Why the hell would she react this way when she has already realized that the girl’s father is an abusive prick (oh hey, he’s on Revolution)? Why would she not immediately tell the doctor that the previous injuries must’ve been caused by her abusive father? Why would she interpret the doctor as accusing her at all? It makes no sense whatsoever.

As for Season 1 (PPS), there is just no escaping the thought that if Kim Bauer simply did not sneak out of the house, she would’ve saved her parents Jack and Teri Bauer at least 24 hours of grief. True, there’s a bit of victim-blaming in that, especially since there is no reasonable correlation between sneaking out of the house and getting yourself kidnapped, but still, as far as the plot goes, that one decision to sneak out of the house precipitated an entire subplot that led to mother getting raped, among other things.

Like, what the hell? If my decisions and actions led to that, the guilt would kill me.

OKAY, fine, as far as the plot goes, we’re forced to conclude that Kim was actually lured out of the house as part of a sophisticated plot to use her as leverage to control Jack. Therefore, it wasn’t really Kim’s decision that precipitated all the grief the Bauer family eventually goes through.

Still, if she had told her friend Janet York, “nah, I’m not gonna sneak out to meet some random boys I don’t know”, that would’ve put a wrench into said sophisticated plot. So, her decision to be a dumbass teen still contributed to the entire 24 hour tragedy.

Oh wow, Jack just shotgunned a dog. Animal rights groups must’ve had a field day with that one back in 2002.

S02E05: Oh great, after her father explicitly tells her not to tell anyone about the nuclear bomb threat to Los Angeles to avoid a panic, she goes on to tell her boyfriend. Of all the antagonists in 24, Kim Bauer is the worst.

Domino’s: 88 RMB Chinese New Year Pan Pizza Combo

I’m chowing down on a “Classic Deluxe” pan pizza delivered by Domino’s Pizza here in Shanghai. It’s part of an 88 RMB combo being promoted for Chinese New Year called “马到成功”, which roughly means “instant success”.

2014 Chinese New Year combo 88 RMB

Continue reading Domino’s: 88 RMB Chinese New Year Pan Pizza Combo

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Fine for Kids But Lacking Depth for Adults

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Wikipedia) television show ties into the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, starting after the events of The Avengers (Wikipedia/IMDB).

I’ve watched up to episode 11 on Youku (神盾局特工 第一季), and I’m not sure I can continue giving the show any more of my attention.

Continue reading Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Fine for Kids But Lacking Depth for Adults

New York Style Pizza: Good Pizza, Poor Dine-In Service

New York Style Pizza in Shanghai, Jing'an location.
Source Dianping

This is a review of the original Jing’an district location by the Jing’an Temple Line 2 stop in Shanghai.

New York Style Pizza (SmartShanghai/City Weekend/Dianping) has been around for a long time and for the longest time, it has been a go-to for pizza that many would consider better than what you could get through the larger American franchises like Pizza Hut, Papa John’s, and more recently Domino’s, as well as the Japanese casual Italian restaurant chain Saizeriya. Without making this a comparison and ignoring the many other one-off Italian restaurants in Shanghai where a pizza can be ordered, let’s just say NYSP has bigger, thinner, and cheesier pies. Chicago-style deep-dish pan pizza loyalists can stop reading now.

Continue reading New York Style Pizza: Good Pizza, Poor Dine-In Service

Pasta Lab: Clean But Cold Decor, Nice Owner, Uneven Food

Hm, I may have to redefine the scope of this blog. I can see myself occasionally writing about dining experiences.

Pasta Lab is a new Italian restaurant that recently opened on Wuding Lu (武定路) near the intersection with Yanping Lu (延平路) in Shanghai’s Jing’an district. As far as I can tell, there is no official website or online listing yet except for this Foursquare page. Neither were there business cards or delivery menus visible.

As you can imagine from its name, it involves customizing your own pasta meal, mixing and matching either various types of pasta or ravioli with a choice of either tomato (red) or cream (white) sauce, as you would “experiment” in a “lab”. Ho ho. I believe the past ingredients are fresh but I’m not sure. I do remember an advertised intent to provide vegetarian (or was it vegan) options to its target customers. It is therefore targeting a yuppie, white-collar class demographic.

Continue reading Pasta Lab: Clean But Cold Decor, Nice Owner, Uneven Food

Sherlock S03E02: Storytelling of Mysteries Convoluted by Marriage Arc

Watched episode 2, “The Sign of Three” (Wikipedia) last night, again on Youku (神探夏洛克 第三季:第2集), embedded below with Chinese subtitles for viewers in mainland China:

Continue reading Sherlock S03E02: Storytelling of Mysteries Convoluted by Marriage Arc