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Link - Article by Chris Mitchell of Travel Happy, and A. Abrams

McDonald's Around The World: Marvels Never Cease, Especially in Asia

If you think McDonald's sells the same burgers and fries everywhere in the world, think again – here in Asia they’ve had to make some concessions to local tastes and come up with some peculiar fast-food variations on Asian favourites.

It all started with the Samurai Pork Burger. I saw this advertised outside a McDonald's in Bangkok back in 2004 and was somewhat perplexed. Why is it a Japanese name when I’m in Thailand? And what do Samurai have to do with pork? Actually, why is it called Samurai at all? Sadly, I never actually found out any of the answers, but it made me start paying closer attention to McDonald's every time I went to another country in Asia.

(Samurai Pork Burger, Bangkok, Thailand (left) and Thai Spicy Fish McDippers (right) - photos via)

Perhaps more traditional for Thailand, the Thai Spicy Fish McDippers (image above right) are a piscine breadcrumb and chili overload. Incidentally, don’t actually expect to eat your fast food in Thailand fast – you will inevitably be handed your burger but have to wait five minutes for your fries, which will be dutifully brought to you – by which time, of course, you’ve eaten your burger…

In Singapore, the national obsession with rice extends to having rice cakes in your burger.

(Rice Burgers, Singapore)

I expected lots of interesting stuff in a Japanese McDonald's – McTentacles perhaps – but the menu was disappointingly ordinary.

Although there were these – Seaweed Flavoured Fries. Also, see below-right: the tasty tentacle snack from Japan. Yum.

In Hong Kong, I nearly got arrested for taking this photo of the Green Tea and Red Bean Ice Cream Sundae. Didn’t realise they guarded their secret bean recipe quite so zealously.

(Green Tea And Red Bean Sundae, Hong Kong)

In Indonesia, as the world’s largest Muslim country, chicken is far more popular than beefburgers (and, of course, the Samurai Pork Burger would be completely taboo). Hence you get combo sets of chicken, rice and Coke:

Chicken, Rice and Coke, Jakarta, Indonesia

Perhaps my biggest WTF moment (Weird and Troubling Food, naturally) in a McDonald's was in the Philippines, when I spotted the clotted mess that is McSpaghetti. (McDo indeed). My Filipino friends explained to me that it was incredibly popular and basically consisted of spaghetti soaked in sugar. Ewwww.

Let me repeat this: Spaghetti - Soaked In - Sugar!.

McSpaghetti, Philippines

I also seem to remember that when I first went to Australia in 2003, there was a Billabong Burger that had tinned beetroot between two patties. Sadly (or perhaps thankfully), I don’t have any photographic evidence, though it tasted as grim as it sounds. There was also a similar one called McOz with only one patty (plus the tinned beetroot that is ubiquitous in Australia – fresh beetroot isn’t nearly as popular).

Spam, Spam, Spam, Eggs, Bacon, and Spam

David Gardner shares his experience: "Did you know you can get Spam, eggs, and rice for a McDonald’s Breakfast in Honolulu? Yup. Right there on Kalakaua St facing Waikiki. Totally cool!"

See this classic Monty Python sketch to truly appreciate the irony.

(images via 1, 2)

In the middle of Moscow, on a busy Arbat street, you can get a take-out for your horse:

(image credit: Kotofei)

Big Macs are a Big Unknown in Chongqing, China

My most memorable experience of McDonald's in Asia, however, is stumbling onto a MaccyDs in Chongqing, China. I’d just completed an excruciating trip up the Three Gorges on an overloaded passenger boat that played earsplitting soap operas the entire journey, and I was in need of comfort food. Chongqing is a vast city with a mind-boggling 31,000,000 inhabitants – and that’s just the official figure. Arriving there just as dusk began to fall was somewhat intimidating to say the least. Things were not helped when I arrived at the front of the McDonald's queue dishevelled and hungry, and found, much to my horror, that the universally understood phrase of “Big Mac” was not understood here.

Managers were summoned despite (or perhaps because of) my increasingly strident pointing at the overhead menu, until a Chinese teenager behind me stepped up and got me exactly what I wanted in 20 seconds flat. He spoke a little English, and I could tell he wanted to practice so I invited my culinary rescuer to join me and we had a great, if slow conversation about his life in Chongqing. “Chongqing is great”, he said. “But I want to go to America”. “Why?” I asked. He broke into a beam of a smile and said “Because I want to meet Christina Aguilera!”

That conversation rescued what had otherwise been a grim day, and makes me smile every time I recall it. And it wouldn't have happened if I hadn’t gone to McDonald's.

Some Other Fast-Food Masterpieces From Around the World

Some are not McDonald's, technically, but very hard to omit when making an article like this. Here is -

Tuna Pie! Seen at Jollibee (Philippines).

(image via)

This is wonderful pizza jigsaw puzzle, where every piece is a tasty morsel:
(Winter Double King Pizza at Pizza Hut, Japan)

(image via)

Peas and potatoes make up the patty in the McAloo Tikki at McDonald's in India -

(image via)

Great travel site Trifter shows more international Mac food variations, among them guacamole (avocado paste) McPollo burger in Chile:

(image via)

Let us know about other interesting McDonald's offerings you found around the world.

When Looking for McDonald's, Beware of Imitations!

(original unknown)

If you’re wondering why I even frequent McDonald's when I’m travelling in the continent of tremendous cuisine, the reasons are threefold:

1) Sometimes you’re so tired or cultureshocked or plain lazy you just want something completely familiar to eat in an air-conditioned, relatively clean environment, however bad it may be for you;

2) McDonald's is actually a great place to peoplewatch because, funnily enough, all the locals go there, and;

3) It irks travel purists no end, so that’s always a winner. (There is a great explanation of why eating at McDonald's while traveling is not to be sneered at by Rolf Potts, with an equally interesting addendum by Pico Iyer, both of which save me having to rewrite it here).

McDonald's Creativity Zoo: Unlimited Imagination from Used Packaging

We wrote about "Bent Objects" sculptures from McDonalds materials before.

(art by Bent Objects)

But now they've got some creepy new sculptures made, right in time for Halloween:

(art by Bent Objects)

But you do not need to use any fast food materials to create monsters: here is how to make (cook and eat) your very own alien caterpillar:

Speaking about post-Halloween cooking, here is another idea:

(original unknown)


Other articles by Chris Mitchell Chris Mitchell of Travel Happy, for Dark Roasted Blend:
Komodo Dragons: They Eat Meat
Plain of Jars: Bombs and Mystery in Laos

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Avi you forgot:
-McKielbasa (polish of course!): http://www.flickr.com/photos/laws/558307499/in/set-72157600376166732/
-McLobster (served on the Canadian east coast)
-McWieś (polish, "McVillage"): nothing exotic except for the name. lots of local produce basically.

Love your blog!

Anonymous James said...

"I also seem to remember that when I first went to Australia in 2003, there was a Billabong Burger that had beetroot between two patties. Sadly (or perhaps thankfully), I don’t have any photographic evidence, though it tasted as grim as it sounds. There was also a similar one called McOz with only one patty (plus beetroot)."

There's also the Kiwiburger, which the McOz was based on, which has an iconic song and ad to go with it, well in New Zealand anyway.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm Australian, and it's quite common for people to eat beetroot on hamburgers. Whack a fried egg on there too and it's delish!

Blogger Rowan said...

I really think you need to give beetroot on a burger a go, it is fantastic. Not so sure about the sugar soaked spaghetti though.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Paris you can buy McMacarons. You can buy far better ones _everywhere_ else but that doesnt stop the McCafe from selling their own evil copy.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this blog. Always fun stuff.

Of course I'm just buttering you up to ask a question. How is it ironic that spam is available in Hawaiian McDonalds restaurants?

Funny? Yes, but ironic?

Blogger Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

you should have posted more items from McDonald's in India.

they have items like "McMaharaja" which I find really funny!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The McDonalds branches in Albuquerque, New Mexico (and elsewhere in the state) serve up the local delicacy on their double cheeseburgers: green chile! They'll add it to pretty much all of their other sammiches on request too. In fact, if you DON'T want it on your doublecheeser, you have to order it plain. :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Finland McDonalds sells McRuis (McRye), basically normal hamburger but with rye bread.

Blogger Aaron said...

In Poland they had fried broccoli available as well as "salad cream" . . . which turned out to be regular ol' mayonnaise.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

in scotland last year, mc'd's was selling a cheesburger with salsa. it was called the little mexican.

Blogger Nic said...

I've been told that in Quebec, they have McPoutine, which is fries, with fresh cheese curds, smothered in gravy... Stent me now!

Anonymous Isabella said...

Wonderful Bulgogi burger at McDonald's in Seoul, S. Korea. A little on the sweet side but yummy.

Anonymous Heather in SF said...

The McDonalds in Istambul by the train station sells McKabobs. Hilarious because the real kabob vendors are everywhere and I am sure a million times better.

Blogger Tara said...

Mmmmmm I love the McLobster!

Blogger Chris said...

I went to McDonalds in Paris because we'd been there nine days, my friends were passed out and I was hungry... plus, I needed a bit of home.

My friends were very disappointed in me that I'd gone to such a place. However, over the next few days, every one of them managed to find their way over. As much as I love to embrace the foreign experience, sometimes I need a little bit of home.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where the hell did you get that -- spaghetti soaked in sugar?!? That's bull. That info is wrong dude. Mcspaghetti never tasted like sugar.

Anonymous seakout said...

It is amazing that you guys keep coming up with these great posts, it is hard to do so on a consostent basis.

There is always something new to learn

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also the Dutch Mcdonalds has got the McKroket >> http://mcdonalds.nl/wps/wcm/connect/mcd/mcdonalds/Home/Producten/Producten/Burgers+en+Nuggets/McKroket

It's a thick ragout thing with a crispy layer around it, and they serve it with mustard.
And all dutch people love it.
I didnt really like the taste... :S

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the McDonald's restaurant in Aqaba, Jordan, you can get hold of McArabia chicken burger in a pita bread.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Malaysia, there's something called Prosperity Burger. Basically a beef burger with thick black pepper sauce & onions. They are served only around Chinese New Year and are fantastically popular...

Blogger Doubting Thomas said...

I am from the Philippines and McSpaghetti is not soaked with sugar. I don;t know what your Filipino friends meant with that, but McSpaghetti taste just like any other spaghettis, no issue with that.

Blogger beggs said...

The Japanese tentacle snack is sold at Muji. Never seen it at MacDs anywhere, but you can buy it at all Muji stores -- Japan, England, Singapore, wherever.

Blogger pavle said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger pavle said...

Here is why travel journalism is interesting as it is. I had put my ass into one of the Mcdonalds temples exactly three times, and that many too many, but as long as there are people daring enough to enter the charming instutions, the rest of us can thus feel better, knowing we're not missing out on anything, except for the extremely bad taste in food...

Blogger jp said...

I'm from the Philippines, and yep the McSpaghetti is on the sweet side. However, this is how Pinoys like their spaghetti - sweet. In groceries you can buy either Italian style spaghetti sauce or Pinoy style which is both sweet and sour. Filipino spaghetti also has cut up hotdogs and ham.
Do you know also that the McDonald's hamburger is hardly sold here? Instead we have a sweeter version called a "Burger McDo" which has thousand island dressing. Weird yeah, but tasty and cheap.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should thank you can find english menus when you go to other countries. Making fun of other cultures makes you look like a fool. Wake up and go to learn a new language bcos learning other languages is learning other cultures, and you are definitively in need of that.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

mc kroket

Anonymous Laura said...

All American fast food is generally soaked in some sort of sodium flavoring solution and/or high fructose corn syrup. Even if it were true, I'm surprised that you're surprised about McSpaghetti being soaked in sugar.

This is an interesting post but it has a kind of irritating "everything unfamiliar is weird" subtext too it.

Blogger Bill said...

What I loved about McDonalds in Japan is that they're the only ones I've ever been to where the food you see in the pictures matches the food you get at the table.
Plus it's cute when the counter girls say "Thank You" after every item you order.

Blogger phillip said...

While in Cairo, Eqypt a few years back we had a Pizza Hut stop and had to try the sliced hot dog pizza! different but not bad. I know this wasn't a McDees story but... the McDonalds was either not bad or i was longing for home so much that I didn't notice the strange. :-)

Anonymous Anakajaib said...

Singapore had a Kiasu Burger and also Kampung (Village) Burge, which is basically a mc chicken with tangy sauce with an added pineapple slice.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Much to my disappointment, you cannot get the Mc Oz here in Australia anymore :( Try throwing a slice of beetroot in your quarter pounder and I promise you'll love it!

Blogger John Naruwan said...

You should add KLG (as in KFC) to the copycat restaurant section. There are many branches around Taiwan. Here's a Flickr pic. http://www.flickr.com/photos/hey-gem/668512507/

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry for all of your poor Mc fast-crappy-food.

Here in Spain, "tapas" and "pinchos" are a really tasty and healthy alternative.

Going now for some of theses, with delicious red wine or beer.

Yum !

Blogger Heidi said...

Taro Pie in Guam! My friend spent a few summers there and told me about this.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry for all of your poor Mc fast-crappy-food.

Here in Spain, "tapas" and "pinchos" are a really tasty and healthy alternative.

Going now for some of theses, with delicious red wine or beer.

Yum !

yeah there are a lot of mcdonalds in spain. were not talking about tapas and cadaver-looking pig hindlegs hanging in bars while your having your tapas, yikes.

Yum !

Blogger Catherine said...

In Israel McD's sells the McShwarma: kabob meat in a pita with yogurt sauce. Of course it's a poor choice compared to the yummy shwarma sold from the hundreds of street vendors.

Blogger Nahim de Liébana said...

Hay algunas cosas que dan asco, como ese hamburguesa de arroz. Un saludo!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "guacamole" thing is not from Chile, the cost is totally irrational, here it could cost like $1200, also cents didn't exist here. Maybe is from Mexico.

Blogger rosie said...

In Costa Rica, they can serve pico de gallo with your burger (rice and beans). Also the have the Tica burger, which is a hamburger seasoned with Costa Rican spices.

Blogger Francisco Miranda said...

And in Portugal they sell a true expresso coffee for 0.50 euros.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i remember the McRib! mcLobster.....

oh! in india Mcdonalds "meat" is made of bread ;)

Blogger A.S.R.S. said...

Really Good stuffs, I wish the sell some of those here in the US

Anonymous Christian Rudolf said...

In austrailia they even have beetroots on the hamburgers ;-)

Blogger R. Duckie said...

Mc D's in the Philippines doesn't have Mc Breakfast (from what I saw) 9am and everyone is having hamburgers and fries and Mc Spaghetti. I love the avocado at Chilean Mc D's on their hamburgers.

Blogger R. Duckie said...

The commenter about the "Guacamole" in Chile was right, that picture does not seem to be from there - although they DO have it there on burgers it's referred to as "Palto"

Blogger naoyuki said...

oh "pita and lay bread" sound good! McD made a splash with the Chicken Tatsuta revival in japan. that successfully ended up with running out of chickens.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In Costa Rica, they can serve pico de gallo with your burger (rice and beans). Also the have the Tica burger, which is a hamburger seasoned with Costa Rican spices."

I think you mean gallo pinto. Pico de gallo is a chunky "salsa" with tomatoes and onions, maybe bell peppers. Gallo pinto is only served for breakfast though. Otherwise the McD menu is pretty much the same as in the U.S. Where did you see a Tica burger? Could be BK, they have some weird stuff here!

Blogger Zelzega said...

back in 1999 I saw Bratwurst on the menu at a McDonald's in Germany.

In 2005 I went to a McDonald's in Ireland only because I needed to use the bathroom, we ordered some sodas cause it was 'customers only' and the small was like 8 oz! I was shocked because I'm used to a small being 22 oz.

Blogger Jason@brandscaping.ca said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Jason@brandscaping.ca said...

The reason i will go to a McD's while traveling - i know they will have a clean restaurant, and usually a clean bathroom.
Of course - the former is more important than the latter!

i did a blog about how McDonalds made me McAwesome - love your feedback on it.

- Jason

Blogger Pablo said...

Chongqing (city) has roughly 5m inhabitants, Chongqing (state) has 31m. The biggest cities in China are Shangai (20m) and Beijing (18m).

Anonymous Tom said...

Crikey! I had no idea McDonald's had so many speciality foods in different countries. Does that mean they do Spitting Cobra McMuffins in China?

Anonymous christmas gifts said...

They different menus all over the world. Things you will get in China may be not available in other countries. But by far they serve the best around the world.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Morocco they offer the McArabia. Don't remember exactly, but I think it was beef or chicken & falalfel.
I was disappointed by the lack of Pigeon McNuggets.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

McSpaghetti is not sweet. Jollibee spaghetti, now that's sweet eeew

Anonymous Onyok said...

I'm from the Philippines and most Filipinos (especially children) love their Spaghetti sweet. It's a matter of business strategy. Sometimes you should adjust to the taste of the of people you want to sell your products..Else your products wont be sold. FYI - it's not as sweet as what you are thinking. But sweeter than the American style of cooking spaghetti.

Anonymous Beatriz said...

I don't know if I missed it or not (because there are a lot of comments on here) but in Spain, they sell beer as well as soda. In my homeland, Brazil, we have Cheddar McMelt, which is basically a beef burger with cheddar cheese, grilled onions and soy sauce. There's always the tasty and make-you-wanna-drool, McNífico Bacon; a burger with bacon but the bacon looks almost like Canadian bacon. Speaking of Canada, McLobster Roll...but let me stop because I am getting really hungry and I am thinking about taking a trip back home just for a McNífico lol.

Hope this gave you (and others) some kind of insight.

Anonymous Isabelle said...

I'm from the Philippines, and we definitely like our spaghetti sweeter than what others would prefer. But the spaghetti in McDonald's aren't that sweet. The spaghetti in Jollibee is definitely sweeter, but I would say neither are soaked in sugar.

and tuna pie is awesome!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

just because it's different doesnt mean it's weird. america is not the only country in the world so don't base your standards from your country. give it a few more years and usa will no longer be the superpower you think it is. wake up.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is one, that i've found in Hangzhou, China in december 2008:


I don't know what it is, cause i didn't dare to give it a try. Please translate it.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I visited Athens, Greece in the summer of '02. The McDonald's there were serving the Greek Mac, it was two patties in a pita pocket. I didn't try it, but I think it may have been made with tzatziki, also. And there was a salad with octopus

Anonymous SleeplessInKL said...

McDonald's in Malaysia sells 'bubur ayam McD' (McDonald's rice porridge with chicken) for RM4.20 ($1.20).

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Billabong Burger was awesome. They stopped doing it here in Australia which is really sad, but most burger places all have beetroot on their burgers. It tastes really good.

Anonymous cabinets michigan said...

I wanna get them robots!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Give me back that Fillet-o-Fish, give me that fish..."

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Korea, the KIMCHI BURGER isnt all that bad...i ate that at a McDonalds in Seoul, South Korea...But They dont have the Quarter Pounder there:(

Anonymous Mendoza said...

In Germany they sold the "Nuernburger" (Nuremburger) at McD in the late summer of 2010, maybe because of the start of the Oktoberfest in Munich. There are 3 or 4 Nuremberger Sausages (small as a finger) on it, with mustard. And some years ago they sold the McRib without barbecue sauce but with a regional sort of mustard (Bautzner Senf).

Blogger patio said...

Seaweed Flavoured Fries is not from Japan. They are from either China or Taiwan.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

the burger with guacamole is from mexico, they used to sell it a lot here. They also had a burger with guacamole and Doritos....never tried it out =_=...


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