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Chains you wished you had in the USA

  • d

Just got back from Hong Kong and have to admit I spent an inordinate amount of breakfasts and some lunches at the Cafe de Coral chain of Chinese fast food restaurants. Since returning, I so wished that we could have it here in the states to satisfy my cravings for those unique Chinese items on their large menu, and at their really low prices. What other non-US chains that you wish we had here?

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  1. I don't remember the name of the chain, but I really liked the donar kebab shops all over Germany and even Australia. Good food at a reasonable price.

    1. Now THAT"S a chain I'd frequent!

      1. Bet you guys would like our Sandwich Cubano chain. Filipinos in the US want Jolibee. Someone mentioned that there are now a few Pollo Camperos from Guatemala in the US.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          More than a few Pollo Camperos (http://www.campero.com/restaurants/li...). Unfortunately I'm 5t0 miles of bad traffic from the closest to me.

          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            there are quite a few Jollibees in California actually

            1. re: superheartthrob

              THANK YOU Al Gore...... for inventing the internet!!! Now get one of these interesting chains to open somewhere near me!

            2. re: Sam Fujisaka

              I live near a Pollo Campero and have only been there twice. I worked with a guy from Guatemala who said it wasn't as good, so he rarely went. Personally, I rarely eat fried chicken but if I do I go to a local Houston chain called Frenchy's where they do a creole chicken that I like much better.

              1. re: James Cristinian

                I've eaten there in Guatemala because: a) it was the only place to get a salad (with chicken that was not fried), and b) in Guatemala, each place has ladies who sell you fresh homemade tortillas right outside next to the doors (you can't get tortillas from the restaurant).

                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  The Pollo Campero here has tortillas, but I'm not sure if they're made on the premises. One of my anglo co-workers saw tortillas on the sign out front and it blew his mind. I, personally, will put anything on a tortilla, lobster, crawfish, etc.

              2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                There's now a Jollibee in New York. In Woodside, Queens. Is it worth a special trip?

                1. re: NYCkaren

                  We've got one here in Sacramento. I've tried it and wouldn't go out of my way to have it again. On the other hand, if you grew up on the stuff it might be a different story.

                2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  The Pollo Campero in Sunset Park, Brooklyn NY tanked. There was too much good food, much cheaper, near by. It was not a very good Pollo Campero, btw . . . the one in Queens was much better, at least when it first opened. Is that still there?

                  It's like the difference between a good Popeye's or Kentucky Fried...so many of the outlets of those in NYC are no good compared to other places.

                3. Sanborn's in Mexico would instantly be the best Mexican chain here, to the 5th power.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Veggo

                    El Pollo Loco (I know, their US operations got split off, but still...) is one of the better Mexican chains, and they can't hold a candle to Sanborn's.

                  2. I don't remember the name of the chain, but it was in Vienna and it offered all sorts of smoked and pickled fish. It was good and relatively cheap. I've never seen anything like it in the U.S.

                    1. I'd love to have a Brek or Autogrill in the US. I get spoiled by 90cent espressos and $4 pasta plates every time I go to Italy.

                        1. re: vvvindaloo

                          I LOVE Autogrill!!! That is always our first stop after getting off the plane in Rome and driving to Tuscany. Great paninis!!

                          1. re: vvvindaloo

                            I miss Autogrill - so good and just what fast food should be.

                          2. Definitely Brek. I could live off Brek forever and ever and ever. Salad + pasta + wine from the tap = love. I would also like to have a Maoz falafel place here, but it's the kind of place that I wouldn't actually GO to unless it was right outside my front door. Oh, but I am talking about Canada. I think there are a handful of Maozs in the States.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Jetgirly

                              There's one on Union Square in NYC - love their falafel. For me, I'd love a Naninni.

                            2. FEBO!!!!!! It's fun and the snacks are tasty.

                              1. I know I'll get flack for this but I really liked Wagamamas in the U.K.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: LA Buckeye Fan

                                  Is Wagamama the noodle shop? If so, there is one in Boston in the Prudential Center.

                                  1. re: ImprovGal

                                    Yes it is! I did not know that. Thank you. Yet another reason I'd love to go to Boston.

                                    1. re: LA Buckeye Fan

                                      There's a Wagamama coming to DC, so there's hope for U.S. expansion.


                                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                                        It's been under construction so long, I wonder.... Would have been better to keep Olsson's book store there until they got it together.

                                  2. re: LA Buckeye Fan

                                    I finally remember eating at the Wagamamas in London's East End about 7-8 years ago. Not bad food and certainly cheap enough for that area, and filling too. I guess bottom line is "it's okay" but nothing to write home about.

                                  3. Lina's cafe- Ate at several locations in Paris and loved their salads.

                                    !00% Natural - the Mexican chain.

                                    1. Mos Burger from Japan!!! So good...

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: junipersong

                                        Oh yeah! I had Mos Burger in Singapore- not only was the Unagi Burger fantastic but the fries at this place were astonishing.

                                        I'd kill to have them here (meaning Canada).

                                      2. Maoz falafel. I can't believe the best falafel I've ever had was from a chain. Their toppings bar is awesome. I'm afraid it would be abused or made disgusting if they had it in America, though.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: Humbucker

                                          There are several of them here in NYC. I've never tried them, though.

                                          1. re: vvvindaloo

                                            One is also opening up in DC, too.

                                            1. re: Jacey

                                              I wish they'd open one in the San Francisco bay area!

                                              1. re: Humbucker

                                                On their website they seem to have a dot in SF area, but l cannot bring up address, maybe planned.

                                            1. re: Humbucker

                                              There are 2 here in Philadelphia. I go often.

                                            2. Spain's Museo del Jamon. It would be great to get some real jamon iberico out there in middle America.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: BobB

                                                I know they are in NY and potentially in DC at this point but I'm a huge fan of Pret a manger. Bring em across the states!

                                                1. re: babaoriley7

                                                  I like Pret when I'm in London, but their sandwiches are a bit skimpy by American standards.

                                                2. re: BobB

                                                  Another Spanish one I like is Buenas Migas, which I think is just in Barcelona. THE perfect after-school snack! http://www.buenasmigas.com/buenasmiga...

                                                3. Nando's--DC actually has one but their menu and food is different than the ones in South Africa, as well as the UK. I wish we had their version (and their prices).

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Jacey

                                                    Jacey, I agree 100%. I had Nando's chicken in Johannesburg and I can't think of a restaurant-prepared chicken I've enjoyed more. Crispy skin, juicy meat, doused in fiery piri-piri sauce....

                                                  2. There is a small chain in the UK called Deli-France - they served pastries and baquette sandwiches. The sandwiches were honestly the best I have ever had in my life. Better in fact than the very delicious baguettes that you actually get in France!
                                                    From tuna-sweetcorn to chicken mayo with big chunks of bacon...Ahhh I dream about those sandwiches....bacon and brie....one was more delicious than the next.
                                                    Yes, I wish we had DeliFrance here - but I'd probably be 20 pounds heavier!
                                                    I have tried so many times to replicate them - but nothing comes close....the bread, the mayo and the bacon that they used were of an outstanding quality...

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: NellyNel

                                                      I just Googled DeliFrance - apparently they are a Dutch company and have franchises all over Europe.

                                                      1. re: NellyNel

                                                        Deli France makes the most amazing tandori chicken salad sandwich. Just about got kicked off a British Rail for eating it. I didn't know eating was a no-no on Brit trains.

                                                        Also their almond puff pastry turnover is to die for.

                                                      2. There was one that we frequented a lot when I was installing equipment in Germany called Nordsee. They are an upscale seafood counter with options from Salads, Soups, Baked and Fried fish.

                                                        1. St Hebert's Chicken In Canada, 1o times better than Boston Market!!!

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: brucekc

                                                            That's so funny you mention St. Hubert! I miss them here in Toronto. I have some very fond memories of my husband and I being stuck in a snowstorm in Montreal on New Year's Eve of all nights! It was a mess! The only place open for delivery was St. Hubert...so we ordered a feast, and ate in our hotel room. With, get this, $90 Laurent Perrier Rose! We've eaten in the best restaurants around the world, but somehow this food memory sticks with us as one of our all-time greats!

                                                          2. New Zealand Natural Ice Cream & Yogurt shops. i got hooked when i was in Australia...their dairy just tastes better/cleaner.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                              Man are you ever right on that. When I was in the military and our ship pulled into Wellington,NZ, the guy's that had been there before hit the ice cream parlors before they hit the bars, it is that good!

                                                              1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                                                                it ruined me - nothing has tasted as good since! i even did some preliminary research about franchising in the States, but it was too complicated at the time. of course now that i no longer live in SoCal, there are 3 locations there, with more on the way!!! i *really* need to move back ;)

                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                  another reason i am thankful to live in carlton melbourne, New Zealand Natural Ice Cream and Yoghurt shops mmmmmmm ;-)

                                                            2. Speaking of Hong Kong - Hui Lau Shan. I think there may be stores in California and/or Hawaii but that doesn't help me much as I'm dying from withdrawal symptoms over here on the east coast. :)

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: sukekiyo

                                                                oh oh oh oh oh oh yes yes yes yes. I loved their mango drinks so much!

                                                                But then...unless it's in a warm place then it wouldn't work so well. I think there is one in Toronto but it pales in comparison. We only have mangoes like in the summer so rest of the time they have to use canned mangoes...and they taste like peaches...

                                                                1. re: AngelSanctuary

                                                                  I've been to the one in Toronto, and I think it's an imitator using the same name. They have a much narrower range of mango desserts that aren't very good.

                                                              2. theres a wonderful fast food chain in hobart that my pescatarian brother who moved to amercia really misses, i can;t remeber its name but it has amazing free range chicken nuggets and free range chicken bugers plus fresh fish and chips grilled or fried or baked, plus fresh salads (think tabouli greek etc) and also wonderful fresh tartar sauce with real ingriedients. there isn't any meat on the menu so the vegetarian burgers are a speciality and are AWESOME they have a mix of cashews and lentils and chickpeas and some other stuff (killer spices taboot)

                                                                another place is a fast food restaurant'chain king seafood in ballarat near melbourne that has fresh grillled fish free range rosted chickens (really nice tender ones) fresh oysters and take away home made cannaloni and pastas plus home made nothing added straight pumkin soup with dill (almost as good as my own) and to top that off i lived on their curried bean salad for about a year when i lived there yummmmy (fresh pungent but sweet and with just a hint of coconut milk!)

                                                                  1. How about Wienerwald found on the highways in Germany and Austria? I remember some great chicken and very fresh salads. And some well-grilled spatzle with fried onions and cheese.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: shoo bee doo

                                                                      We had Wienerwald in NYC back in the 60s-70s. Like many chains, they grew too far, too fast...and had a retrenchment, and the USA stores closed. Sure do miss it.

                                                                    2. I wish we had a Go-Go Curry in LA. I know they just opened one up in NY. I had it in Japan and it was some of the best curry at a great price.

                                                                      1. a fantastic burger place called grille'd has started to franchise in melbounre, lovely lean fresh burgers all obviously "grilled", chicken avacado and salad is lovely is lovely and a gourmet greek burger with lean lamb and babaganush eggplant and tabouli is fabulous,
                                                                        a lean kangaroo burgwr with bush chutney fresh tomato and salad or perhaps an aussie with fresh beetroot, sharp chedder lean beef, salad and a "grilled" egg yummy ;-)
                                                                        ooh and my fav a beautiful fresh salmon burger made with high quality salmon and ground chickpeas with avacado and tartar sauce plus a wedge of lemon to serve mmmmm

                                                                        1. We lived in Paris for two years, upon Ieaving i was asked what would I miss. The first thing was the great cooking schools I had attended and wanted to continue to attend and how I wished there was a chance that Picard's Surgeles (High end Frozen products) would open in Houston. This place is awesome for quality frozen food products. From a Fruit de Mer bisque to Foe Gras, fruit purees, and vegetables of the highest of quality. Such a great concept, a whole store. No freezer burn or ice crystals.

                                                                          1. Ca Das Sandes in Lisbon. Interesting sandwiches on a choice of baguettes, and cheap beer!