Ah to live in China, something I am now approaching my 13th year doing. When I tell people that I live there, they almost immediately say how lucky I must be. And how much I must enjoy the food. But let’s deal with the elephant in the room right away. Chinese day to day food is a bit shit. That’s right! It can quite shit, bugs, chickens feet. And goat gonads are not what you need when you have hangover.
Luckily, China is not complete heathens because chinese have let in our favorite Clowns and Colonels. And they’ve also developed their own alternatives for late night drunk, or afternoon hangover food.
Here’s my guide to the top 5 most popular fast food chains in China that should find yourself hungry in the middle-kingdom.
No. 5 McDonalds
Number of outlets in 2012: 1,689
Number of outlets in 2013: 1,964
After watching “the founder”, you might assume that McDonalds are the biggest fast food firm everywhere.
But in China, they only make it paltry 5th. Chinese MaccieD’s is not all that bad because a big mac is still a big mac. But they lose multiple points for lack of milkshake and culinary breakfast abortions that include soya milk.
No. 4 Shanghai Shihao Catering Co Ltd – The Bruce Lee Restaurants
Number of outlets in 2012: 1,550
Number of outlets in 2013: 2,000
If you’re strolling around China and you see a fast-food restaurant with Bruce Lee on the sign, that is these guys , and they are pretty much everywhere. Cuisine is very much Chinese fast food, rice plates, noodles, vegetables, and almost zero flavor. Bruce Lee could and should be turning in his grave.
No. 3 Ting Hsin International Group (Dicos)
Number of outlets in 2012: 1,517
Number of outlets in 2013: 2,160
The original Chinese rip-off., Dicos copied KFC, got some stuff right and a hell of a lot wrong. The fried chicken is God-awful, but the chicken burgers do a job, and they even have a burger made with a rice bun. Hangover heaven. You will see Dicos in almost every airport, or train station, and they do a sterling job.
No. 2 Hua Lai Shi
Number of outlets in 2012: 3,000
Number of outlets in 2013: 4,000
Dicos is the KFC rip-off, and Hua Lai Shi are the overall rip-offs of rip-offs with menus that include pretty much everything. Burgers, fried chicken, pizzas, noodles, you name they do it, and they do it very badly! But it is western food, so it’s better than a chicken foot.
No. 1 Yum! Brands Inc (KFC)
Number of outlets in 2012: 5,275
Number of outlets in 2013: 5,854
I’m so old I remember when KFC was called Kentucky Fried Chicken. KFC were the first and most popular in China because Chinese already did friend chicken, but KFC offered not just chicken, but clean toilets to poop in. I have written extensively about the Colonel in China, which you can read here, but to summarize! KFC in China is God-awful. They almost always run out of original recipe, there are no milkshakes, and, and, and! NO GRAVY. I won’t even discuss their breakfast culinary war crimes, but it’s still KFC and thus greasy western food.
Gareth Johnson is the founder of Young Pioneer Tours, a published writer, and all round entrepreneur. He enjoys street food, and encourage others to get paid to travel the world.