How Overseas Fast Food Restaurants Cater to Local Tastes

From by Nevin Barich
How Overseas Fast Food Restaurants Cater to Local Tastes

I recently traveled to Israel for the first time. During my trip, I acquainted myself well with the local cuisine: Lamb, shawarma, falafel, fish. I even tried hummus, though I never liked it back in the States (I didn’t like it in Israel, either). Eventually, as is my wont, I was craving fast food, specifically pizza. At the airport in Tel Aviv waiting to board my flight, I saw a welcome sight: Pizza Hut.

I ran — literally ran — over there, with thoughts of a gooey cheese pan pizza with olives and mushrooms dancing around in my head. But when I looked at the menu, I was surprised that in addition to pizza, Israeli Pizza Huts serve quiche.

Curious, I asked the woman behind the counter about the quiche. I explained that I was from Los Angeles and I wanted to know how popular quiche was here, particularly in comparison with pizza. “Oh, it’s no contest,” she replied. “Quiche is our most popular item.”

Quiche is just one of several examples of major fast food chains offering menu items specific to the country they’re in (All Pizza Hut items in Israel are also kosher). The reasoning is simple: Different countries have different local tastes, so it’s important for these multi-national companies to cater to the regions they’re in. That’s why at KFC in Australia, you’ll see chicken pot pie, or if you go to a Burger King in Canada, you can order beef poutine, made with fries, cheese curds, and gravy.

More examples of localized fare at major fast food chains:

Paneer at KFC

The Paneer Zinger, a crunchy, double-layered paneer cheese patty filled with a spicy, creamy sauce and topped with lettuce on a sesame bun, available at KFCs in largely vegetarian India.

Tofu and fish at McDonald’s

Tofu-Fish McNuggets, available at McDonald’s in Japan, where the per capita consumption of fish is traditionally high (though this is changing rapidly).

Squid ink at Burger King

Also in Japan, the Kuro (or black) Burger — featuring black cheese made from bamboo charcoal and black squid ink sauce on a charred black bun — is available at Burger King.

Pork and seaweed at Dunkin’ Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts in China offers a dried pork and seaweed donut, a common flavoring for Chinese breads.

Refried beans at McDonald’s

In Mexico, McDonald’s offers a localized version of its Egg McMuffin called McMolletes. It’s served open-faced and topped with refried beans, cheese, and pico de gallo.

What localized fast food have you spotted around the world? Tell us in the comments!

"How Overseas Fast Food Restaurants Cater to Local Tastes" originally published on The Menuism Dining Blog.