Sunday, October 16, 2011
Fast food chains like McDonald's don't become global brands by cooking up the same old burgers and fries in every country.
Chains wishing to hang a shingle in a new country generally follow a strategy known as "localization," tailoring their menus to fit local tastes. In some cases it's subtle (in China, for instance, you can get chili garlic sauce with your McNuggets) while in other cases the menu is almost unrecognizable (in India, you won't find any beef or pork at burger chains).
That means that fast food fans in other countries get menu items that Americans can only dream of. Here are a few we wish we could have.
The Meat Monster (Burger King, Japan)
When most people want to put something on their burgers, they usually think of toppings like cheese, bacon, onions and tomatoes. The geniuses at Burger King put all of that on, then decided to throw on a chicken breast for good measure.
The result is the Meat Monster, a sandwich available at Burger King in Japan only. Perhaps the beast of a burger was meant to appeal to Japan's love of kaiju (monster) movies; in any case, we know it appeals to us. Bring this one stateside, Burger King.
McVeggie (McDonald's, India)
McDonald's has never been a preferred destination for vegetarians. While the fries no longer contain beef flavoring (the company discontinued the practice in 2001 in response to a lawsuit), meat-free customers still don't have too many choices beyond a few token salads.
Things are a bit different in India, though. Hinduism is the dominant religion there, which forbids consumption of beef and pork, and vegetarianism is widespread. The result is the rare spectacle of a McDonald's with no hamburgers. In addition to the standard Filet-O-Fish, you also get the Chicken Maharaja Mac and the McVeggie, the latter of which uses bread, potato, peas, carrots and Indian spices.
McZüri (McDonald's, Switzerland)
Starting this month, McDonald's Switzerland has starting rolling out experimental new items that cater to local tastes. While the McGrillschnägg — a sausage made from Swiss pork — certainly looks appetizing, the standout star for us is the McZüri, made from 100% Swiss veal. Yes, we said veal. The patty is accompanied by mushrooms and caramelized onions. Apparently McDonald's is a bit more upscale in Europe.
Paneer Tikka Sub (Subway, India)
Subway's menu isn't as beef-intensive as McDonald's meat-centric offerings, so its 223 Indian locations aren't as unrecognizable as McDonald's Indian restaurants. But there's definitely some local flavor there in addition to the usual lineup for sandwiches, including chicken tandoori and tikka subs. And there are plenty of options for vegetarian customers, including the paneer tikka, which the site describes as "cottage cheese slices marinated with barbeque seasoning and roasted to a light crispness."
Krushers (KFC, Germany)
In the U.S., KFC has focused on chicken products and generally stayed away from doing anything too creative in the dessert space, but in other countries it's a much different story. KFC locations in Australia, Germany, South Africa and other countries offer a line of dessert drinks known as Krushers, which come in such flavors as mango, strawberry, Kit Kat and Triple Choc Crunch. The drinks are mixed with large chunks of fruit or candy (including sliced-up strawberries and Oreo cookies). To slurp up the chunks, the drinks come with extra-wide straws.
Bubur Ayam McD (McDonald's, Malaysia)
Apparently bubur ayam — which translates to "chicken broth," according to Google — is a traditional Malaysian dish. And according to the English-language McDonald's Malaysia website, the Bubur Ayam McD consists of "juicy chicken strips in mouth-watering porridge, garnished with spring onions, sliced ginger, fried shallots and diced chilies ... just like mum's cooking!" We're guessing that this dish won't be coming to the U.S. anytime soon, but we'd still be curious to try it.
Trio Supremo (Burger King, Brazil)
Burger King is now owned by a Brazilian company, 3G Capital, so we expect the Brazilian locations to have top-notch cuisine. And Burger King Brazil has indeed come up big with the Trio Supremo, which comes with chicken nuggets, onion rings and French fries smothered in cheddar cheese and bacon bits. The whole thing amounts to 1,072 calories and 58 grams of fat. As far as we're concerned, America is up to the challenge of this one.