Move over McDonalds, Lotteria is the biggest fast-food franchise in Vietnam.
It’s been a while since I wrote about the fast food cuisine of a nation, with my being about the general culinary abortion that is Dico’s in China, but needing a fast food fix, I ended up in Lotteria.
The Vietnamese fast food scene
Vietnam and Hanoi in particular don’t really do McDonalds or KFC; McDonalds have one store in Vietnam, and KFC have a few in department stores, but for burger and pizza jollies in Vietnam you’re most probably going to end up in a Lotteria.
To read about which countries do and don’t have a McDonalds click here.
Who are lotteria?
So, who are they then? It’s a fast food chain that originally started in 1972 in Japan. It was started by a Korean-Japanese family, a vestige of Japanese colonial rule in Japan. They currently have franchises in South Korea, Indonesia, Burma, Cambodia, and of course our very own Vietnam. Sadly there are not all that many branches in Cambodia, mostly restricted to malls, such as AEON in Phnom Penh.
How big a deal they are depends on the country, but in Japan, Korea (south) and Vietnam they are huge. Hence the main topic of this article!
Lotteria had the largest market share in Korea when it entered Vietnam in 2004. One wonders what the Vietnamese did for burgers before this date, but I digress.
When Lotteria entered Vietnam they adapted their menu, as they do in all other countries to suit the local palate, such as adding rice dishes. The menu in Vietnam can now pretty much be split into three parts: burgers, chicken and bad rice dishes.
McDonalds in Vietnam
McDonalds only entered Vietnam quite recently, opening a few stores in Saigon. Overall though it has not been that successful. KFC are already present in the country and Lotteria are pretty much an institution here. When they entered they heavily adapted to the local market and the Vietnamese love them.
Ironically had the US not held such a grudge about being beaten in the war, they could have got here first and would probably be more successful.
Where to eat fast food in Vietnam?
And where can you find a Lotteria? They are absolutely everywhere, including at train stations and airports. Realistically, if you need a fast food fix in Vietnam, you will end up at one.
I have been saved more than once whilst training around Vietnam by one of these bad boys.
To read about traveling through Vietnam by train click here.
How does it taste?
The first time I actually tried Lotteria was at Shenyang train station. There were 3 of us present. The Kiwi was really excited as he’d eaten it in Japan. the American wanted a McDonalds and me? I was sat firmly in the middle. I was genuinely pleasantly surprised at how good the burgers were.
So, to the all-too-important taste test! I had a crack at all 3 sections of the menu in Vietnam. The burgers were decent, but not exactly Burger King, and the chicken was very Asian its style and presentation, and alas it was no KFC. And then there was beef and rice. I really don’t understand why fast food joints even have rice dishes – surely if you wanted rice, you would go get rice! A thumbs down on the rice dish.
Overall Lotteria is extremely good on certain parts of their menu. The Lotteria Burger has a real unique taste, and if there was ever a McDonalds Burger vs Lotteria Burger type standoff it would be a tough call. Alas if it was KFC vs Lotteria there could only be one winner.
Overall a fast-food thumbs up for the Lotteria Burger and the restaurant chain in general.