A Great Chinese knock-off – Fine Dining at Dicos

Dicos is something you will not have heard of unless you’ve been to China. If you have been then you’ve certainly seen it, and who knows either walked in yourself, or been treated to “western food” by a Chinese friend. But, what exactly is the Dicos story? Lets take a plunge into the myriad world of fast food in China.

Table of Contents

The Dicos Story

Story time! Did you ever hear the story of Darth Plagueis? He could even cheat death… Wrong story. Did you hear the story about Oppo? Oppo is one of the biggest phone makers in the world. And popular in developing countries for their reliable smartphones.

They’re a perfect example of Chinese soft power, but what’s the background on Oppo? Oppo began as a knock off maker of the iPod. Often times being sold next to each other in shops. If you couldn’t afford an Apple, you’d get an Oppo. And the name? Apple directly translates to “pingguo” in Chinese, Oppo means nothing, but sounds a bit like apple (without the copyright being infringed. Classic bootlegging 101.

But you don’t stroll on this page to read about dead sith lords (turns out he couldn’t cheat death). Nor are you here for a lesson on how Oppo turned itself from an iPod rip-off into a global empire. You’re here for the Dicos story!

chicken at dicos

Who invented Fried Chicken in China?

Believe it or not, it is not the first fast-food restaurant to offer fried chicken from buckets. As well as chicken burgers and fountain cola in China, shock horror that goes to KFC. Deng Xiaoping initially opened the door in 1978. And by 1988 KFC were steaming through the country opening restaurant after restaurant. I’ve written extensively about why it was so popular here.

To read which countries do and don’t have a KFC click here

But to sum things up nice and easily, the Chinese already did Fried Chicken, but KFC revolutionized the fried chicken concept. They did this by doing such things as making staff wash their hands and providing a clean toilet to poop in. Not exactly reinventing the wheel, but in late 80,s China different to what they’d been used to.

Fast Foods Wars of China

McDonald’s joined the party a few years later, but KFC was like a steamroller. The age-old question of whether to innovate or imitate then came up. And in 1994, Tianjin Ding Qiao Food Service started the brand “Dicos”. It’s aim? To provide fried chicken and burgers in buckets. But! They would offer the franchises for much cheaper than KFC!

Thus they became and still are to an extent the first fast food restaurant of any size to hit places. Especially outside the big industrial areas. Even now Dicos are at a hell of a lot of train stations, airports, and cities that can’t afford an actual decent franchise. Using this method it has managed to get itself to being the 3rd biggest franchise in China, above even the global evil that is McDonalds.

So is it any different from KFC and dare we ask, is it any good? In the early days, it was definitely a KFC rip-off, but over time it has expanded into its own niches. Joys such as its rice bun chicken burger being particularly interesting. Its fried chicken is definitely palliated more towards the Chinese palate, being crispier and very much without ANY secret herbs and spices. .

Dicos Menu Review

So, what is the menu like?! For whatever reason this blog is one of my most read blogs, not to mention my article on the top 5 fast food restaurants in China, which you can read here. To summarize it was essentially invented as cheap knock-off of KFC, but much like the previoulsy mentioned Oppo is now its own thing.

’Ive therefore decided, and against my better judgment to break all known protocol, and walk past KFC in order to review said menu. Oh how I suffer!

Let’s rip apart the menu!

The picture of the menu is slightly poor, but I feel we can still get through this.

Dicos Menu

Dicos has an English menu

Half the battle is fixed right there! There’s a very thorough English menu here, detailing exactly what each thing is. Although at times I feel you’d actually rather not know. This means that even if the staff don’t speak English, which they likely won’t, you can still point at things. With things being meals and stuff like chicken burgers and fries, this makes it easier than a normal Chinese restaurant.

There’s lot of chicken here

It is essentially a (bad) KFC clone. As Deng might have put it, KFC with Chinese characteristics. Chicken burgers, buckets, and all variants of chicken rule the menu.

I need to talk about the Buckets! Yes you do get a lot of chicken, but it is Chinese style fried chicken. Be warned it is nothing even vaguely like a KFC. Breaded, bland not a nod to the Colonel!

The Chicken burgers at Dicos

Whilst there’s a lot of chicken burgers on the menu, they essentially fall into two categories, chicken breast/steak in a bun, or breaded chicken in a bun. The chicken breast comes with a pineapple, usually tastes a bit undercooked, but is a good choice. At over $7 for the meal though, it’s not budget cuisine. Fast food in China is not cheap food. Cheap food is street food.

And that is the Dicos Menu! Oh and they even have one at Dandong, frankly life giving after a week in North Korea.

Concluding the Dicos Story

So that’s the skinny on eating at the second best fried chicken jointin China! But, the 5 gazillion dollar question – should you eat here? Well, I’m reminded of the age old phrase. When talking about a lady of questionable looks. Namely “I wouldn’t crawl over her to get to you mate”. This sums up this place. You wouldn’t walk past a Burger King and certainly not a KFC to go there.

But that is not say she is not without her charms. If the fast big hitters are out of town, Dicos will happily keep you warm for an evening. And that is pretty much their story. There are other far far far more obvious Chinese rip-offs, but I truly admire how they went about things ere. Are they a bit of an institution? You bet your god damned rip-off ass that they are!

And who knows? If Oppo were anything to go by perhaps Chinese soft power will mean a Dicos on every street corner. Maybe not, but perhaps in Africa.

Next we may well take a look at “Best Food”, who can “best” be described as a Burger King Rip-off. You really do gotta love China!

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