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A better MacDonald in Asia?

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  • HLing Dec 5, 2006 10:00 AM
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Before I get taken off this board and sent to international...I just wanted to share my thoughts about the "Fan"tastic beef, or chicken sandwich in Hong Kong's MacDonalds. "Fan" in Chinese means rice...therefore the name.

This is probably not that new...I saw it back in March of this year in Hong Kong, but didn't get a chance to try it. Now, 8 months later, I find myself back in Hong Kong, unplanned. It was meant to be!

For those who don't know, this is a sandwich that looks like a hamburger, except instead of bread, two pieces of flattened rice balls are used. The flattened and seasoned rice ball are about 3/8 inch thick. They used asian salade dressing with the fried chicken fillet in the middle (i hear the beef is also good, but they were out when I ordered)...

It's hard to describe the food, except that it was very good to my asian stomach. If this is MacDonald I will go back again. Something about the rice that made the meal a lot more satisfying. Perhaps they have not had a chance to skimp on the rice as they have on the bread.

A month ago, while in Suzhou, China I tried the Brazilian Hamburger at the local MacDonald. The sauce was a bit much, and it wasn't nearly as good of a variation as this rice burger is. Though, their mung bean pie, (a la apple pie) was really good. As was the Hong Kong MacDonald's banana pie.

For that matter, in China, the KFC is just as awful as the ones in the States...BUT, in China you can get pretty good version of the portugese egg tarts at the KFCs...Why can't we have that in the US?

So, now I will think twice before shaking my heads at people who go overseas and go to MacDonalds...now I know that there may be some interesting things to be had, and that it's not really the same as back in the States...

Anyone else want to share other foreign local colors for US fast food chains?

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  1. I never actually saw a Mc Donald's in Italy, but the website lists some very interesting and healthy foods - various salads including shrimp, and tomato and basil salads.

    1 Reply
    1. re: fara

      When I was in Rome, I saw gelato at McDonalds. And wine, if I remember correctly.

    2. Now I am drawing a blank as to whether it was McD's or BK but in Wales they has chicken Tikka on the menu and also lamb. I also remember finding veggie burgers in Wales at both WAY before they started them in the US...then again, mad cow probably had something to do with that....

      I would never be adverse to trying fast food in another country---I think of it as part of "tasting" the local flavor....

      1. In the Philippines, McDonald's serves McSpaghetti, catering to the sweet tooth of Filipinos. The spaghetti sauce is sweet and they add hotdog bits. I know they also serve Fried Chicken and rice. I was there for a vacation a month ago and noticed that they have huge billboards announcing their newest product-McRice Burger with chicken or beef supreme. yikes. And for breakfast they serve corned beef with rice.

        2 Replies
        1. re: ml22

          Jollibee puts sugar in their burger meat to achieve ang lasang pilipino (filipino taste).

          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            ...and to me, the American, the first time I tried it, I couldn't eat it!

        2. Not so much foreign, but I seem to remember that McD's served saimin (noodles) at the one near the hotel I stayed at in Honolulu in the late 80's. Is that still the case, or is my memory hazy?

          1 Reply
          1. re: srr

            yes, that's still the case.

          2. Oh that Fanwich burger sounds oooooo good. My gf's parents live in HK. I gotta have them try it for me and give me the lowdown!

            1. We ate at a McDonalds in Reims, France (I know this is culinary heresy but we had a small child who was melting down and only McNuggets were going to fix the problem). They had decent wine thank God! Do any McDonalds in the States serve alcohol?

              2 Replies
              1. re: steveb

                unfortunately no mcdo wine here in the US and A (Thanks Borat!)

                1. re: steveb

                  The McD's at the corporate headquarters in Oakbrook, IL serves beer and wine, or at least they used to. Also had soup there before.

                2. The Canadian McDos (at least the ones I saw in Ottawa, and probably Quebec) have poutine.

                  1. i was in tokyo in may, and what they called "asian salad" in the US they just call "salad" there.

                    1. I once spoke to Japanese KFC exec who told me that the company understands and markets a distinct difference in chicken between Japan and the U.S. Japanese, he said, prefer their chicken juicy. Americans like their's crispy.

                      1. Pizza Hut in Taiwan regularly offers corn chowder as a side dish, and canned corn as a topping for pizza. People love it. My uncle took me to eat there and when we got home my aunt immediately asked "Did you bring me corn chowder?"

                        Similarly, people do indeed go to KFC for the Portuguese style egg tarts. For awhile, people were lining up around the block for them, and there were per person purchase limits. It's not that crazy anymore, but it's still not uncommon to stop in at KFC and not eat chicken.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Pei

                          When I was in Taiwan, I had corn soup (chowder) at a McD's. It wasn't bad at all. I agree with the comments above about why some of those "foreign" menu items are not served here, especially in those areas in California with (for example) a large Asian population--unfair.

                          1. re: Pei

                            Corn chowder is the same in Japan. You can actually buy it in heated cans from vending machines- besides fast food restaurants and pizza delivery places.

                          2. the burger topped with flattened rice "patties" sounds like something you can get at mosburger in japan.

                            when I lived in korea I had both the bulgogi burger at lotteria and mcdonalds. I don't know which was better, but when I was little I loved the stuff

                            I could really go for a lotteria bulgogi burger with their soggy gross fries ):

                            1. McD's may have stolen the rice-burger idea from the Fairwood chain, which had it at least 10 years ago.

                              I disagree on the KFC's chicken in China. I found the chicken at a Shanghai KFC much more flavorful than in the US, probably because they are not raised to yield as much white meat as possible. I agree on the KFC's Portugues Egg Custard Tarts, though. They are much more satisfying than the Cantonese dan tat version.

                              1. In Hungary, all McDonalds sandwiches come with sliced bell peppers! It's pretty interesting when you bite into a typical Mcwich and out bursts a mountain of mayonnaise and some yellow bell peppers (paprika).

                                Yeah, I don't really like McDonalds, but you gotta try it once overseas!

                                1. well, I just saw a Popeye's Fried Chicken at the Hong KOng Airport!!! That I had to try, even though i was not hungry, I bought two pieces of thigh (THAT in itself has always been difficult in Asia) and brought it with me on the plane to Taiwan. Ate it cold later...the meat is good...the spicing slightly altered. I didn't get a biscuit as i thought it would come with, as is always the case in the US. So, I will have to do a better report next time when i try everything on the spot.

                                  I agree with Gary Soup that the chicken is better in Asia regarding the KFC. It's just that the KFC I've had in China AND the time I had in NY just to confirm, both had really disgusting batter that was like uncooked flour paste on that layer immediately covering the meat. It tasted like gritty glue with lots of black peppers, basically, and made me feel like I"m eating dirt....that's all..that's why i don't like KFC.
                                  As for Silverjay's enlightening comment: "..I once spoke to Japanese KFC exec who told me that the company understands and markets a distinct difference in chicken between Japan and the U.S. Japanese, he said, prefer their chicken juicy. Americans like their's crispy..."

                                  I have to say, there lies the problem with KFC for me..I think I can safely say for most of us regardless of the nationality, the we like the meat juicy, but the crust to be crispy, and that "Fried Chicken" means there's the Fried, and there's the Chicken, and we don't want just either crispy or juicy, but we want both in their appropriate place.

                                  Popeyes I will eat anyday. Just didn't think it'd make it to Asia.

                                  As for Mosburger, I had it for the first time last week in Taiwan, but only one seafood rice burger that someone brought me. I need to do a better tasting before any conclusion. Not sure now if it's a Japanese chain or a Taiwanese then?

                                  Ah..Good food makes the World Go Around!

                                  1. fwiw, mosburger is all over japan. i wish we had one here!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: babar ganesh

                                      Mosburger tested the US market in Hawaii and apparently gave up on it. I think they should try a more burger-friendly but sophisticated market on the mainland, like SF. Closet burger-loving Chowhounds could get a little face with their burger.

                                    2. MOS is Japanese, but has joint ventures in Taiwan and Singapore. See: http://www.mos.co.jp/english/history/

                                      I shaped my opinion on KFC's chicken in China at their first outlet in Shanghai (People's Park) in 1992. They were then mimicking the US format exactly, and the sides were mashed potatoes, cole slaw, corn bread, etc. They probably used the same US cooking methods as in the US then, too.

                                      One thing I learned just a couple of weeks ago is to stick with basic chicken on the bone items at KFC in China. I ordered a chicken pattie sandwich in Shanghai and it came as a shaped patty that hand carrots, peas and corn embedded in it! I do like KFC's Portuguese egg custard tarts, though, far more than any "dan tat" I have ever had.

                                      1. McDonalds in India offers the Majaraja Mac, which is a Big Mac made with lamb instead of beef. All the burgers there are either chicken, lamb, or fish -- no beef. Pizza Hut offers Chicken Tikka Pizza, with sliced onions and Chicken Tikka on the pizza. Domino there makes a great Paneer and Baby Corn Pizza.

                                        In Singapore and Malaysia, McDonalds offers chili sauce instead of ketchup (siracha style). Same with KFC. Burger King and McDonalds also offer different burger variations than what we have here to cater to local taste. Pizza Hut and Domino's offer local favorites on pizzas -- no pork products in Malaysia, so they don't offer sausage, but they do have shrimp, and even shrimp sambal pizza.

                                        I prefer the fast food restaurants in Singapore over the ones here. I like the type of offerings they have. Whenever I go there, I always make a couple stops at McDonalds and/or Burger King for some "Asian" fast food.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: boogiebaby

                                          The first time I had McD's was in Singapore. I remember shopping with mom downtown, and we would stop for a quick lunch. The image of McD's was wholesome, good, fun. Perhaps it was an overseas image? I remember the word "franchise" being discussed positively in the news.

                                          Mom always had a fish-o-fillet and an apple pie. I usually had a cheeseburger and a strawberry sundae. I only have good memories of that place.

                                        2. I think the MickyD's in Beijing is gross. The sauce they put on it is totally disgusting. They also serve fried chicken but I didn't try it. The chicken nuggets tasted like a knock off. and I was pretty buzzed so the food should have been great, but I could taste the yuck through the buzz.

                                          The KFC, on the other hand is great! it comes with a weird sweet corn side dish. Other than a few modifications, the chicken actually tastes just like in the US, but maybe a little better (more chocked full with msg?)

                                          1. In Tokyo, I found McD's pretty good. The Big Macs look exactly like their pictures and were great; they tasted like they did 20 years ago as opposed to the flattened mess of a burger you get here in Canada.

                                            1. I have had fried apple pies at McDonalds in both England and Germany. It isn't something I should be eating but it is nice to be able to get them once every five years or so.

                                              1. McD in Europe is also much better than that in States. Both Germany and Czech Rep. serve beer, Spain has gaspacho and France has local sandwiches ( aka burger/chicken with provencal herbs, different cheeses, etc). Both Spain and France serve wine.

                                                Not healthy either, but at least doesn't make you sick and provides for an interesting experience.

                                                1. McDonalds in Italy - A) the only place that doesn't charge you extra to *sit down* B) always has air conditioning C) only place to get a really large coke. All these are welcome to tired angry tourists - which I'm not usually... But my favorite reason to go is that they have espresso in special mcdonald's espresso cups and I have occasionally been known to convince the server to let me have one, with saucer. :)

                                                  (Edit: the one by the spanish steps in rome is decorated like a villa, plus the one in assisi has a giant mural of nuns/girls tossing cheeseburgers from their baskets during a street fair. no joke.)

                                                  My dad said that the McDonalds in Israel have kosher cheeseburgers - fake processed "non-cheese" so everyone can enjoy!

                                                  McDonalds in St. Petersburg, Russia provides welcome hangover food when one has overdone the vodka. But it costs comparable to the US prices, so it's more like a mid-range restaurant there - a treat for my host sister's 12th birthday.

                                                  1. As a poor student in Paris, I sadly had to eat at McDonalds out of budget necessity, but it was surprisingly not that bad. The chicken there is much better, and they had pear and chocolate sundaes.

                                                    DO NOT eat at Mcdonalds in Eastern Europe. The food is horrible and it is kind of expensive.

                                                    As for other chains, I still remember the time I went to a fried chicken chain in Taiwan, and ordered fries. I got the most exquisite sweet potato thick cut fries, crisp, hot, and dusted with salt and white pepper. Mmmm.

                                                    1. McDonalds in Israel has kosher restaurants with a seperate part for meat and a "McCafe" for dairy, and they have a "McKebab" which I never tried, and fruit nectar (yummy!)... best of all they put a small sticker with nutrition facts on the wrapper of the hamburger (I hear they are starting this in the US?)