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Published on Nov 5, 2013 in Asia, China, Featured Articles, News

Fast Food in Asia

A short time ago I published a blog titled Fast Food in Europe. As a result, a number of people have e-mailed me ( to see if I could write a blog on fast food in Asia. Since I tend to eat quite a bit of fast food while traveling throughout Asia, and especially while I was living in Korea for a year, I’m happy to give you an insight into Asia’s fast food choices.

Street vendor carts can be seen in most Asian cities. They serve locally prepared fast food items, such as dumplings, and sell them at various locations throughout the city. These fast food carts are typical in many Asian cities which have significant pedestrian traffic.

There’s a great many fast food franchisees in Asia. Depending on their country of origin, most have modified their menu to reflect local Asian tastes. Below is a listing of some of the more interesting fast food establishments I’ve found in Asia.


KFC and McDonalds are the dominant fast food franchisors in China. Both companies have gone to great lengths to adapt their foods to Asian tastes. So far, KFC has a 3:1 market share lead over McDonalds in China. McDonalds is trying to catch up and now offers the convenience of home delivery. KFC offers congee (like a porridge) for breakfast as well as a choice of room temperature or warm (coffee type warm) orange juice, along with your traditional chicken menu items. McDonald’s in Asia typically has far more chicken sandwich items on their menu than they do in the US, since Chinese prefer chicken to beef. I’ve found, however, that McDonald’s in China does put an extraordinary amount of mayo on their chicken sandwiches to satisfy local Chinese tastes. The rest of McDonald’s menu is basically what we see in the US, even down to offering a Big Mac.

At Dunkin’ Donuts in China you can find a shredded pork and seaweed donut, as well as your more traditional types. It’s not unusual in China to have meat and other items in a donut. The Chinese believe this makes the donut more flavorful.


Continuing with Dunkin’ Donuts, in Korea you can have a Kimchi croquette, filled with fermented cabbage and onions. A croquette is basically a stuffed donut.

McDonald’s offers a Shanghai Spicy Chicken Burger (the #1 selling burger for McDonalds in Korea) as well as the Bulgogi Burger. Bulgogi is a Korean dish that consists of grilled marinated beef.

Koreans also love kimbap, a “sushi” type roll that can have a variety of fillings, such as tuna and bulgogi. Kimbap fast food chains can be found throughout the country.


Winter Double King Pizza from Pizza Hut in Japan.

Asians, it seems, love cream puffs. Beard Papa’s is a chain of over 250 cream puff stores that started in Japan, but has since spread to other Asian countries, such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Thailand.

Mos Burger is Japan’s second largest fast food franchise, second only to McDonalds. Mos Burger can also be found in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia. When at Mos Burger you can try the Mos Rice Burger. This is made with a filing of fried burdock with carrot, grilled pork with ginger, or seafood fritter. The bun is made of rice, barley, and millet. This is definitely for the Asian palate.

McDonald’s in Japan offers a Bacon Potato Pie, which is visually a duplicate to their McDonalds Apple Pie. The Bacon Potato Pie is salty and contains mashed potatoes and bacon, which is deep fried in their familiar apple pie shell. McDonald’s also offers an Ebi-Filet-O shrimp burger. When it was introduced in 2005, 10 million were sold in the first 3 months alone. This shrimp burger resembles a typical McDonald’s fish sandwich and is topped with lettuce, a spicy sauce, and a sesame seed bun.

Starbucks in Japan offers a Coffee Jelly Frappuccino. The coffee jelly is at the bottom of the cup. This frozen coffee drink is then topped with whipped cream.

Pizza Hut in Japan offers their Winter Double King Pizza, which is a pizza topped with mayonnaise, king crab, shrimp, beef, broccoli, onion, corn, egg, and potato. It also has a removable crust filled with mayonnaise and shrimp.

Subway’s in Japan offers a special mascarpone cheese and prosciutto sandwich.


85 Degrees C Bakery Café is known as the “Starbucks of Taiwan.” It not only serves coffee and tea, but also freshly baked pastries for those who want to grab a quick bite. These pastries can have various toppings, such as shredded pork. The Taiwanese, like the Chinese, like flavorful foods.

Domino’s in Taiwan serves a double-decker pizza, a regular crusted pizza topped with another pizza whose crust is made of French pastry.


Street vendors are as popular and prevalent in Thailand as they are in China. They serve many different types of food, but rice-and-curry vendors are the most popular.

Pepper Lunch is a Japanese-owned chain that’s been successful in Thailand. It serves a hot plate containing meat, vegetables, and rice. Many different types of meat and vegetables are offered.

The Pizza Company is Thailand’s version of Pizza Hut, probably because it was started by a former Thailand Pizza Hut franchisee. The pizzas are Thai in flavor, such as the tom yun gung pizza. Since Thailand has a love affair with curry, you’ll find curry flavored everything in Thailand, and that includes the pizza.

Burger King is not very prevalent in Thailand, but KFC is popular with a menu of spicy foods such as Wing Zaab (very spicy chicken wings) and Hot’n’Spicy fried chicken. KFC also serves curry sauce over rice as part of their Thailand fare.

A&W’s menu includes their traditional root beer float, as well as specialties such as waffles and fried chicken with teriyaki sauce.

McDonalds has adjusted their Thai menu for regional tastes. If you eat at a McDonalds in Thailand you’re likely to find McJok, a rice congee that’s served for breakfast, and McNamtok, a spicy meat salad with rice that’s popular for lunch and dinner.


Balinese love porridge. Bubur ayam is a popular version of porridge which contains shredded chicken with fried onions on top. This dish is offered at McDonald’s in Bali.

A&W in Bali serves fried chicken and rice, and other easily prepared items for those on the go. Since Asians tend to love chicken dishes, A&W also offers Balinese a variety of chicken items on their menu.


It seems strange that a Chinese fast food chain would be a significant player in the Philippine fast food market, but it is. Chowking pioneered Asian fast food in the Philippines and serves such fast food items as dim sum, noodles, dumplings, and rice. In addition to the Philippines, Chowking has stores in the United States, the Middle East, and Indonesia.

Jollibee’s in the Philippines offers a tuna pie. This fried pie contains cooked tuna and vegetables. If this sounds irresistible to you, there’s Jollibee restaurants in five states in the US: California, New York, Nevada, Washington, and Hawaii.


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