Aloha! from Hawaii…sort of…
Another Auckland trip, so that can only mean one thing, sitting in shitty traffic always wary of a crowbar being pushed into your face by one of the nicer inhabitants of the city.
But it also means carb-loading, chaffing down sizeable portions of gristle, fat, oil, and synthetic flavors…of super-sized fizzy, and uncomfortable chairs seated behind tables too small to take a napkin.
Yep, I’m back home…
No sooner than I got off the plane I was at Carl’s Jnr’s new residence at the airport, and again I failed to order ala carté (if it can be called that) and ended up with yet another ‘limited edition’ offering; The Teriyaki Hawaiian Thick Combo. At nearly $14 it isn’t a cheap lunch, especially as a medium combo, compared to a more sedate (and sane) coffee and ham sandwich, but I have always maintained I don’t mind paying good money for good food, so would it hit the palate like it hit the wallet?
Again I was caught out by Carl’s point of difference in serving you at your table (if eating in obviously) and had to follow my ‘waitress’ around the restaurant for a couple of laps before we both clicked to the fact that me and that dinner tray she was carrying were destined for each other. Seated behind obese Customs officials might be an off-putting experience in a fast-food joint, but surprisingly it seems so normal that it’s the skinny people who stand out, and while I’m anything but, I can at least smile in the knowledge that my impact on the health service is pretty minimal compared to those I witnessed in both Carl’s and the newly opened KFC next door.
As the photo shows, the Hawaiian didn’t look remotely like its passport photo and while this riles me up something chronic it seems to dissipate once I start making my way through handfuls of fries and mouthfuls of processed meat…and this burger quickly made me forget all my ills.
In the next 2mins (or thereabouts) I chomped, swallowed, chewed, and burped my way through one of the most enjoyable delicacies I can remember in a burger joint, and that is no mean feat. Yes, it did seem odd that I was eating a ‘Hawaiian’ devoid of any ham or bacon, but the meat patty and sizable pineapple ring were as juicy as if they were picked, shot, and boned that morning. The buns were soft and fresh, the lettuce and accompanying veggies and sauce a subtle sideshow, as they should be. Pair that with the best damned fries on the market right now, washed down with an aromatic, full-bodied Coke and Raspberry, and Carl’s Jnr has nailed it, lock stock and two smoking barrels; there is a new king in town…now if only the TV people would pull their collective heads out of their arises and allow decent family viewing of hot chicks getting it on over a BBQ. It must be said however that no one in this joint closely resembled the chicks in the ad. Carl’s, either make the burgers look like the ads, or make the girls. Not too much to ask, is it?
Later that week, at departures I was greeted with another Hawaiian; McDonald’s Hot Hawaiian, a play on one of the undisputed kings of the heart-attack in a box, the Quarter Pounder. Add in another pineapple ring, some hot spicy sauce coupled with its iconic slab of fatty meat, this could well be a true pretender to the feast enjoyed 48hrs earlier. OK, the intent was to sample something off the board at Carl’s, but a business meeting that (of course) turned to the subject of burgers went well over the allotted time and in a rush to get the rental car back and checked in meant that this had to be waylaid in preference to something closer at hand. While my ability to eat something in quick time (picture a spy in WWII swallowing a secret code crossed with the Cookie Monster in full flight) is not in question, the restaurant’s timing in getting it into my paws in good time was the risk not worth taking.
McD’s is pricey, especially for what you get, but buying this burger in a large combo came in nearly $3 cheaper than Carl’s, so could this prove to be the best bang for your buck…relatively speaking?
Yes, and no. McDonald’s have a real good burger in this however the hot sauce might not be to everyone’s tastes – and as a bloke who likes a sweaty ring piece as the result of herbs and spices this was definitely their hottest offering to date (read previous reviews) – history might show it to be a silent achieved destined to be swiped aside for some other crazy concoction designed as a futile attempt at making them look like a progressive provider. Yes, the burger is nice, fresh, juicy, and most importantly, tasty, though one always has a craving to fill a little more of a gap after eating there, no burger quite getting to a size where this bloke can feel sated…sort of like previous girlfriends have felt after the best four minutes of my life. Their fries, as more often than not were good, as they were fresh, something obvious to those of us who have been served old dry fires many a time before, but they are streets behind of Carl’s potatoes.
Two chains, one well established, the other moving in on hallowed South Auckland ground. Two burgers, both good, very good in fact…and there can be only one winner. McDonald’s, you better seriously look at what you are giving us as Carl’s are going to king-hit you where it hurts you most. When I told people I had eaten at Carl’s, pretty much everyone gasped and said “Oh no, I wouldn’t eat there!”, yet in the same breath mentioned they had never actually eaten there…well, fellow diners, I suggest you make a break from your Big Macs, your Zinger burgers, and your sub-standard fries and visit what could well be a changing of the guard in the race to provide paid obesity…