McDonalds in China

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I really needed a burger the other day in a deep way. The only place near my office that I know of to get a burger is the McDonalds around the corner so I headed out.

The store would be instantly recognizable to any American, but their menu is a blend of familiar with new/modified items. Fortunately for me, in China, they have these plastic menu placemats with English so I can point to what I want. In addition to the Big Mac, Double Cheeseburger, Chicken McNuggets, and Filet-o-Fish sandwich we see in the US, you can get a "Mala Grilled Chicken Sandwich" or a "Mala Crispy Pork Sandwich" (Mala means something like "spicy" in Chinese.) They also have fried chicken wings on the menu, and apparently corn is a popular side instead of fries. For dessert, instead of an apple pie, you can have a pineapple or taro pie. Their breakfast menu has the familiar (and delectable) McMuffin sandwiches; they also offer a "Egg & Ham McPuff".

(One side of the menu card - click to see the bigger version - semi-bad shot from my phone...)
McDonalds China menu card

The extra value desserts (< US$1):
McDonalds China extra value desserts

There are some definitely advantages to the Chinese McDonalds. First, prices are pretty low compared to the US (about US$3 for a Big Mac meal -burger, fries, and Coke). Second, they deliver and are often open 24 hours a day. Finally, their spicy stuff is actually spicy. (And fried chicken is a great side for every meal.)

Delivery dude on his electric moped -- he's wearing a huge, hard, plastic backpack with the food in it. When he gets off the bike, he can carry the food right up. We've done this for lunch meetings before.McDonalds China delivery bike   

I ordered a "Big N' Beefy" sandwich. It was not big and only vaguely beefy. It's basically a Quarter Pounder with cucumber slices, lettuce, and spicy Thousand Island Dressing. (I think it was called a "McCucumber" when I first arrived in China.) It's actually not too bad, for a McDonalds burger. I also had some chicken wings (because who can pass up fried chicken?) They're a little spicy and not bad either (although not as good as KFC in China).

McDonalds China Big N' Beefy box McDonalds China Big N' Beefy sandwich, opened up

McDonalds is simultaneously the same everywhere in the world and intelligently local. Their success may be due to this mix of global brand and consistency with local product. I think we all (including Microsoft) could learn something from this (albeit at a higher quality.)

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Optimista Reply

So interesting! I wonder if their sundae has real ice cream in you know?

Tony Reply

Only one way to find out...

Marcia Reply

It looks like the meat in the burger is the same as in the USA. I was curious, as years ago I ordered a "beefburger" at a Jakarta McD's and it was chopped, not ground, beef. Definitely an interesting textural experience.

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