Semisweet’s Sharlena Fong has been killing it as a pastry chef for years, with Bouchon Bakery, Per Se, and Nickel Diner under her toque. I’d been enjoying her incredible creations in Downtown LA since I moved here in 2011, without even knowing that she was the mastermind behind Nickel Diner’s miraculous Salt Peanut Cake that I’d discovered and looked forward to eating every week. I was totally oblivious to her contributions to my regular Downtown LA pastry/donut-bingeing, until Semisweet opened on my block.
Fong created the McFong, a breakfast sandwich that is as different from it’s McPredecessor as you can get: A buttery, flaky cheddar chive biscuit, cheddar cheese, bacon or sausage (or no meat), and an egg cooked to order – perfectly. There’s actually no comparison at all (the McFong is slightly closer to McDonald’s Sausage Biscuit with Egg, if you add sausage), but let’s match the McFong with the reigning breakfast champ, the Egg McMuffin, anyway.
On the left, the McFong ($3.95) is obviously about 30% larger than the McMuffin ($3.19). Looking at the aerial view of the eggs, the McFong has a certain “made-to-order” attractiveness going for it (when ordering, you are given the option of Over-Easy, Over-Medium, Over-Hard, or Scrambled) but the McMuffin looks more like a coaster, with American cheese. According to McDonald’s website: “Most of our U.S. restaurants crack the egg fresh on the grill in a circular ring to achieve the iconic round egg shape.” I bit into a freshly-cracked,
ironically iconically-round egg shell while eating this particular McMuffin, which is kind of reassuring (these MUST be real eggs) and also disgusting.
Lately, McDonald’s has been trying to reaffirm it’s spot as America’s Chosen Breakfast, offering free coffee for the past two weeks (you get what you pay for) and bombarding my Hulu-viewing with ridiculous commercials. The latest series, entitled “Morning Routine”, positions their protagonists as average McJoes (hey, just like ME!) waking up on one of the sunniest days in history. One commercial features a well-intentioned mom taking her son through the Mickey D’s drive-thru, but the version that really gets me is the twenty-something dude who is seen shaving in one shot but then is seen with 3-day stubble as he approaches the drive-thru window later (shades of Dexter’s stylish intro montage, he very deliberately lathers up and then shaves a quarter-inch patch of his neck). The surprising footage? McDonald’s staff don’t wear gloves when handling the apparently artisanal english muffins:
The price of a McFong is slightly higher than the McMuffin, but the flavor and quality of the McFong is outstanding in comparison. I imagine that every city’s downtown neighborhood has their own version of a McFong, people just need to seek them out. In Downtown LA, I’m lucky to have a spot like Semisweet, run by a true visionary. But even if you don’t live here, you should try to find your own McFong. When it comes to starting your day, don’t be a Scrooge McDuck.
Note: Semisweet will be closed April 11 thru 14 & April 18 thru 21 so that they can spread the Fong at Coachella. For those of you attending, you should definitely pay them a visit in the Rose Garden. Strawberry and chocolate Ding-a-lings, maple bacon sticky buns, strawberry pocket tarts, and mac and cheese empanadas will be on the menu!
Semisweet is located at 105 E 6th Street, Los Angeles CA, 90014